If political ideology faces crisis, blame people too besides politicians: Playwright Bratya Basu

NewsDrum Desk
24 Jan 2023

Kolkata, Jan 24 (PTI) Actor-playwright turned West Bengal minister Bratya Basu has said that if political ideology faces a crisis during a time of social degradation, the responsibility of it does not only rest on political personalities but also on the common people.

History does not shed much light on how Bengali revolutionaries such as Barin Ghosh and Ullaskar Dutta spent their lives in Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Island, but another revolutionary VD Savarkar, who was also incarcerated there, is being remembered “for certain reasons”, he said.

Basu, the author of the Sahitya Akademi Award-winning book, ‘Mir Jafar O Onanyo Natak’ (Mir Jafar and other plays), was talking about how plays are influenced by history and contemporary reality at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet on Monday.

He said, "One journalist friend asked me the other day if political ideology is still alive. I asked him if it is not, if it faces any crisis, should the responsibility be entirely borne by political figures. Doesn't the common man appropriate the blame as well?" Mir Jafar is considered a traitor and opportunist, but his character also reflects the conflict between ideology and ambition, between love for country and lust for power, he said adding that Mir Jafars are there among the people.

Mir Jafar was a commander of the army of Nawab of Bengal Siraj- ud-Daulah, who betrayed his master during the Battle of Plassey, thus paving way for the British rule in India.

Basu, the state’s education minister, also commented that there had been efforts during different phases of history to this day to impose one's ideology on society.

“A man of letter cannot offer a solution to any situation, because he is neither a religious shrine to issue sermons nor a political school which will issue a pamphlet. He can only dispassionately watch the passing time," he said.

He penned his plays to bring forth “a slice of reality", said Basu whose other plays on historical characters include ‘Boma’ on the Alipur Bomb case of 1908 involving revolutionaries of Bengal.

History did not shed much light on how revolutionaries of Bengal, like Barin Ghosh and Ullaskar Dutta, spent their days in Cellular Jail in inhuman conditions but did not surrender, the ace playwright said.

“Another revolutionary, Veer Savarkar, had sacrificed his career and fought for the country's independence. However, he who gave written undertakings to the British rulers during incarceration and was freed unconditionally (in 1937) is being remembered for certain reasons," Basu said.

Bengal and Punjab had produced the highest number of revolutionaries in British-ruled India but remain less mentioned, he said adding that these two states bore the brunt of problems during partition, Basu said.

In another context, he said, written plays have never been much feted by the general public, including the theatre-going audience, as people want to see them live as a form of entertainment. PTI SUS NN NN

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