Gautam Ghosh to make documentary film on West Bengal

Mamata Banerjee swears in West Bengal Chief MinisterKolkata, May 21 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Mamata Banerjee‘s rise from an undermined ‘street fighter’ to a venerated mass leader and communist rule slayer has been extraordinary. Now the journey will be captured on celluloid by India’s one of most critically acclaimed filmmakers, Gautam Ghosh.
Filmmaker Gautam Ghosh, who made a highly acclaimed documentary on late communist patriarch Jyoti Basu, will start shooting on his documentary on the ‘Agnikanya of Bengal’ (Daughter of Fire) as she is popularly referred to in recognition of her indomitable spirit.
Armed with the slogan of ‘Maa, Mati Manush’ and with tea shop wisdom in her kitty Mamata Banerjee could finally carve a niche in the corridors of power in West Bengal, wearing the title of the first woman chief minister of the state.

”The idea of making a documentary film on Ms Banerjee was born following a request by a popular television news channel recently,” Ghosh told IBNS in a telephonic interview.

”My documentary on Mamata Banerjee will be from a very neutral point of view. It would be a story of an ordinary woman whose keen interest in politics helped her climb the social ladder and change a deep-rooted political system,” he added.

”The film will be from a human point of view and bereft of any political bias,” he added.

Singing all praise for the fiesty Trinamool Congress supremo, he said, ”Mamata has been fighting the battle for a long time and it was not an easy task to change the system.

”She has miles to go now before achieving her dream of giving Bengal a makeover,” the veteran director said.

The National award veteran said that Mamata’s win reminds him of poet Subhas Mukhopadhayay who had predicted that she would go a long way, almost 15 years back.

”Her win reminds me of the day almost fifteen years ago when poet Subhas Mukhopadhayay had told me that Mamata’s down-to-earth ways will take her a long way,” Ghosh said.

The filmmaker is yet to decide on the storyline and plans to have a discussion with Ms Banerjee once she is done with her political engagements and finds time for other things.

The acclaimed director had made documentaries on Jyoti Basu, filmmaker Satyajit Ray, musician Bismillah Khan, Rabindra Sangeet exponent Kanika Bandopadhyay and theatre personality Utpal Dutt.

Ghosh was also eloquent about the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led  Left Front’s rise and fall in politics.

”It was the land reform measures like Bargadari system that helped the LF consolidate its position in Bengal and unfortunately it was the same land acquisition that perhaps led to its downfall,” Ghosh opined.

“Nevertheless, it deserves to be patted for being the longest-serving democratically elected communist government,” he added.

”I still remember Jyoti Basu (late CPI-M patriarch) saying in front of camera it’s not right for a single party to rule for so many years. But the Opposition is not yet in shape to usher in a change in Bengal politics,” the award-winning filmmaker said while sharing snippets of his tryst with political leaders over the years.

”Though late, the change has finally arrived and I am happy for it,” he smiled.

Mamata Banerjee began her political career with Congress as a student leader and became the general secretary of the Congress state women wing. She earned fame- or rather some infamy- for her protest before the car (she allegedly danced on the bonnet) of socialist leader Jayprakash Narayan.

A milestone in her political career came in 1984 when she became a giant killer and pitch-forked herself in the rough-and- tumble of national politics that is intrinsically linked to the state from where she hails.

But 2006 became a definite turning point for Mamata Banerjee with the outbreak of the Singur movement.

The communists seized about 1000 acres of land in the fertile region of Singur, barely 40 km from Kolkata, against the wishes of the farmers to hand over the plot to Tata Motors for building a plant for the ultra cheap Nano car.

Mamata Banerjee began a hunger strike for the farmers of Singur at Esplanade East in downtown Kolkata and her fast continued for 25 days in December that year, earning her an iconic status as a peaceful protester. Singur was followed by the CPI-M atrocities in Nandigram. Now Banerjee found a support group in the people of Bengal and the intelligentsia.

The killings, rape and recapture of Nandigram by the armed cadres of Left, where the communists wanted to set up a chemical complex and a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was the ultimate nail in the coffin of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government.

Banerjee`s political ambitions met a match in the clamour for change by Bengal intellectuals, especially those who are not just disgruntled defectors of the red camp but those who owed their success to talent and hard work and not favours distributed by the Marxists.

In June 2010, Trinamool Congress fought municipal election alone and swept the state.

A jittery Congress had not other choice but to form alliance with Mamata for the assembly polls and accept the number of seats she offered.

With a landslide victory in 2011, Mamata Banerjee thus scripted a story of an extraordinary politician whose single minded opposition led to the rout of the deep-rooted Left Front in Bengal.

Debayani Bose

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