Writing and direction: Bratya Basu
What makes Bratya Basu’s play Boma (Bomb) stand out from others depicting the Alipore Bomb Blast trials of 1908 is that it blows the lid off the veneer of saintliness that history has bestowed on those involved. This is rare in Bengal, for discussing flaws of freedom fighters has been taboo. But Basu rips off masks, revealing petty jealousies, greed for power, even incontinence. A group of revolutionaries plots the assassination of British district magistrate Kingsford. When one of them dies in an accidental blast, his wife is inducted into the team. Amidst secret missions, love and lust unfold, as do ego clashes. By the time young Khudiram Bose is sent on the final mission—he ends up hurling the bomb that kills two innocent British women—the band is a scattered lot. Basu’s stagecraft is magnificent as we are taken on a journey—from underground bomb factories to inside the Kingsford’s living room and the cells of Cellular Jail. But one of the most refreshing scenes is a simulated rain sequence, with water pouring down on the stage, with the actors opening up their umbrellas. It’s then that news arrives that Khudiram will be hanged. What did he die for? Boma is a poignant allegory of the current political scenario, especially in Bengal. Basu, a Leftist and later a merciless satirist of the same regime, was invited by Mamata to serve ‘Poriborton’. He did. This is an expression of the resultant disenchantment.