Friday, Jul 01, 2022


Post Nandigram firing, the Communists are shooting at another movement: the theatre

Exeunt... Pronab Basu

Curtains Down

  • Theatre groups, directors who flayed the Nandigram killings are facing boycott
  • Leading cultural personalities allege the government, CPI(M) are behind it
  • Call shows now a trickle for many, last-minute cancellations are common
  • Faced with financial ruin, many directors say they may give up theatre, and turn to other creative pursuits


If you can't silence them, starve them of work. That seems to be the credo of the CPI(M) in West Bengal. Its target: theatre personalities who were vocal in their opposition to the CPI(M)'s depredations in Nandigram. Over the past year, dissenting directors and artistes have seen 'call shows' (invitations for staging plays) decline to a trickle and have found it impossible to hire government-owned auditoriums. Plays by directors like Kaushik Sen and Arpita Ghosh, who have been in the forefront of Nandigram-related protests, have witnessed last-minute cancellations. Faced with imminent financial ruin, many directors are openly contemplating switching to other creative pursuits.

Successful director Bratya Basu is one of the CPI(M)'s targets. He told Outlook: "All my earlier plays received a surfeit of call shows. But over the past one year, such invites have dipped to some two per cent of what I used to receive—that's soon after I started speaking out against what happened at Nandigram. I've been advised to stop criticising the government and concentrate only on my theatre."