Monday, November 19, 2007

For Soumitra, Maoists get reel

Anjan Chakraborty
KOLKATA, Nov. 19: They are known to target CPI-M leaders and police ~ be it in words or action. But for the first time, Maoists have chosen an apolitical person, Satyajit Ray's favourite actor, Soumitra Chatterjee, to correspond with and question his stand on the Nandigram issue. Though the letter does not "call for his head", as Maoist mails often do, or warn him to stay away from the CPI-M, it has made police sit up and take notice.

The letter, written by the state secretary of CPI (Maoists), to Soumitra Chatterjee, questions the Tollywood actor's stand on the recapture of Nandigram by CPI-M cadres. "You played the character of Pandit Mashai in the film Hirak Rajar Deshe (Kingdom of Diamonds) where there was a division between 'we' and 'them'. You had portrayed a rebel character in the film and in the end the rebels were victorious."

"But that was 1980 (the year the Satyajit Ray film was released), now this is 2007 and you have switched allegiance. In the fight that is going on, there is a division between 'we' and 'them' as well, but you have now taken the side of Hirak Raja (Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee). In this fight, the general public have retreated temporarily, but what will happen in the end? What does history tell you?," the letter cautioned the Tollywood actor.

The letter, dated 14 November, also questioned why Soumitra Chatterjee has taken up the side of the "oppressor". "Why are you scared? For what reason? In exchange of what have you sold your protesting self to Buddhadeb? We do not know whether there is any reservation or secret reason that compelled you to align with Buddhadeb. You have got everything in life ~ money and recognition ~ then what more do you want that you have to pawn your thinking to the fascist rulers? Think ....," wrote the state secretary of CPI (Maoist). The letter ends with a note of caution: "There is still time to stand by the 'oppressed' people and tell them that you are one of them and had somehow lost your way. We do not wish that the love and affection that you earned by portraying the character of Pandit Mashai in Hirak Rajar Deshe is transformed into public hatred."

When The Statesman tried to contact Soumitra Chatterjee, his cell phone was found switched off and on calling up his residence a family member said he was unwell and would not like to discuss Nand-igram. The South 24 Parganas SP, Mr Praveen Kumar, first denied having any knowledge of any CPI (Maoist) letter to Chatterjee, but later said 'after checking with the local police station' that "they had sent some policemen to the actor's residence to find out if he had received the letter or not".

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