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Bengali Actors Echo Dissent in a Music Video Ahead of Legislative Assembly Polls in West Bengal

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Photo Credit: (Left to right) Riddhi Sen- Wikipedia Kaushik Sen - IMDb Parambrata - indianewengland.com - CC 4.0 AS Anirban - Wikipedia

Days the Legislative Assembly poll commences in West Bengal, several leading Bengali actors and musicians released a music video on Wednesday voicing their dissent against totalitarian forces.

Translated to Our Opinion, Our Song, the song echoes dissent against hate and divisive ideology of the government without either explicitly naming them, or disclosing their own political inclination.

Nijeder Mote Nijeder Gaan, directed by National Award-winning actor Riddhi Sen and his Open Tee Bioscope co-star Rwitobroto Mukherjee, draws inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore’s work, Raktakarabi or Red Oleanders. Published in 1926; the play, written after a flower by the same name, follows the fictional story of a king’s rule. The symbolical drama is a subtle lashing out against degraded and devalued citizenry at the hands of totalitarian rulers.

Tagore’s text, a symbol of revolution in Bengal, makes several appearances in the video.

The video features an ensemble cast of music composer, lyricist and singer Anupam Roy, actors Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Anirban Bhattacharya, Santilal Mukherjee, and Surangana Bandyopadhyay, Piya Chakraborty, and filmmaker and actor Kaushik Sen. The video features places in Kolkata that are considered to encourage intellectual stimulation and pluralism.

While no political parties are named, the activities of right wing parties find recurring references throughout the video. Calling them as “infectious as the pandemic”, the video lists the orders from the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register for Citizens used to clamp down on the Muslim population by challenging their citizenship status, to the alleged chats exchanged between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and BARC India’s former chief executive officer Partho Dasgupta, pre-empting the Balakot strike as a political move.

Written by Dracula Sir actor Anirban Bhattacharya, the lyrics call out on the government, suggesting its reflection in Goebbels’ mirror, Adolf Hitler’s right-hand in command. Comparing the government’s rule to that of Hitler’s rule in Nazi Germany, where Jews were reduced to serial numbers stamped on their arms, the anti-hate video documents events that have led to the changing nature of India’s democracy.

The video has garnered more than 2,80,000 views on YouTube.

The video comes against the backdrop of several popular Bengali film and television actors picking up party flags of the Trinamool Congress and the BJP. Both parties have fielded several actors as candidates for this year’s Legislative Assembly polls.

For the first time, Legislative Assembly polls are being held in West Bengal in eight phases across 294 seats. While the first phase of polls will be held on Saturday, the last phase will go to polls on April 29. Results will be announced on May 2.

While Assam will have a three-phase poll, elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry will be held in a single phase.

According to the Election Commission of India, polls in West Bengal have been spaced out keeping in mind religious festivals, to facilitate movement of special forces, and to have an increased number of polling stations in keeping with Covid-19 protocols.

While the BJP has welcomed the poll panel’s decision and claimed that this would enable free and fair elections in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose party Trinamool Congress is facing a tough challenge from the BJP in the state, alleged that such a long poll schedule was suited to the saffron party.

Left parties have also alleged that the poll panel has not come up with a credible justification for conducting such a long election schedule.

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