Saddam on stage - Jatra against Bush policy

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  • Published 21.11.06

After Dhananjoy Chattopadhyay, it is Saddam Hussein’s turn to mount the jatra stage. What binds the two is the death penalty. But since the Dhananjoy show was stopped because of its controversial content, the organisers of the Saddam pala are playing it safe by toeing the politically correct (read Left Front) line.

Uttam Opera’s Phansir Manche Saddam hails the Iraqi leader as a martyr fighting for his country and nails George Bush as the villain stifling the voice of justice.

“We are against the death penalty, so there’s no reason why the police should stop us. We are glorifying Saddam and denouncing Bush,” said Haradhan Roy, manager of Uttam Opera.

“We haven’t got any instruction from the government to probe this play or take any action,” said Pradip Chatterjee, deputy commissioner (headquarters).

Saddam returns to the stage two years after Digvijayi Opera put up Americar Haate Bondi Saddam. Though a little late in the day (the jatra season was kicked off during Rathyatra), Uttam Opera is hurriedly putting up Phansir... to cash in on the issue.

“We were planning this pala for the past six months for next year, thinking that Saddam would get life imprisonment. But we couldn’t wait any more once the death penalty was announced,” said Roy.

Constructed from newspaper reports, the play will trace the growth of Saddam as a leader through flashbacks. But the main storyline will span the day he was arrested to when the sentence was delivered. The cast comprises the women in Saddam’s life — his wife and two daughters — apart from his sons Uday and Qusay, his aide and lawyer, George Bush and Tony Blair.

“We are against capitalism and we will show how Iraqi soldiers have been tortured and the Iraq-Kuwait war in flashback,” added Roy. The play is scripted and directed by Biswajit Purakayastha.

Rehearsals are on in full swing as Uttam Opera plans to travel into the interiors of Bengal, Assam and Tripura with Phansir Manche Saddam from December 1.