By Sirshendu Panth
Kolkata, Oct 4:
With deft brush strokes she drew the eye of the goddess, authored a new book and did the cover of a festival publication, while a musical album based on her poems was a big hit – multiple shades of Mamata Banerjee were on display this Durga puja.
West Bengal’s maverick and impulsive chief minister, known for her passion to delve into various genres of art and culture far divorced from her principal career as a politician, seemed to have chosen the state’s biggest carnival to yet again showcase her versatility at a time her government was under increasing attack from the opposition.
The snowballing Saradha chit fund scam, student agitation at Jadavpur University and a series of setbacks in the courtroom has made the going tough for the Trinamool Congress government in recent weeks, notwithstanding two assembly by-poll victories.
But for the time being, Banerjee’s focus was only the Durga Puja.
Now well known for her paintings, which have fetched her both buyers as also some controversy over reports that one of the pieces was picked up by Saradha Group head Sudipta Sen for a whopping amount, the chief minister sprang a surprise on Mahalaya – that heralds the advent of the mother goddess on earth.
Onlookers at the Chetla Agrani Club marquee in South Kolkata were witness to Banerjee painting the trinayan (third eye) of the goddess on the forehead of the idol.
The idol maker, famed visual artist Sanatan Dinda, was ecstatic.
“I had requested her to draw the third eye, as she is adept at painting. Initially she was a trifle tense. But she did a great job. Later, I only touched it up. I can tell you, that many an established artist would have panicked at the very thought of doing it first time,” Dinda told IANS.
Smoothly switching from the painting to the pen, Banerjee came out with her 46th book – “Kutsapakkha” (Of Canards). The Bengali volume showcased her reply to what she called canards and disinformation campaign against her and the Trinamool Congress. The book, party workers said, flew off the shelves at the stalls set up by the party near the community pandals.
A local music band joined in by setting 15 of Banerjee’s poems to tunes and compiling them in an album released ahead of the festival which concluded Oct 3.
The album titled “Mukta Akash” is a collage of recitations, songs and Sanskrit shlokas.
“The chief minister herself chose the poems. She also intently hard the songs and suggested changes. Some of the poems have been made into songs. Some others are recitations with background music. We have used Sanskrit shlokas to heighten the effect,” Palash, member of the Mahul Abrittir band, told IANS.
The poems include “Maati”, “Nobo Projonmo”, “Dhonyo”, “Shanti”, “Tornedo”, and “Mrityu”.
“The poems are quite unique. Even if she had taken to writing poems only, she would have gone places. The poems are simple, and detail her feelings on what she saw around her. Nature forms an important part,” said Palash.
“We have got very good response from the public. We hope to do more such albums next year,” he said.
Besides, Banerjee did the cover for the festival number of the party’s Bengali mouthpiece Jago Bangla. She also wrote a poem and wrote an article coming down heavily against her political opponents and a section of the media for trying to defame her, the Trinamool and the government.
(Sirshendu Panth can be contacted at [email protected])