Jatra-pala or village operas are an integral part of our Bengali tradition. In the old times, these operas were the only source of entertainment for villagers and city dwellers. The stories sometimes contain historical as well as social injustices and other moral issues which help to create mass awareness. Till the 1990s, jatra was vastly popular in Bangladesh but of late, it has lost its appeal due to various reasons.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) has taken up several initiatives to bring back the glory days of jatra. New policies have been formulated with the title of ‘Jatra Shilper Nabojatra’ and till date, 106 jatra troupes have been registered under it.
Last year in November an event was organised with the view to registering these troupes. BSA has already created an opera titled ‘Isha Kha’ and has displayed a stage adaptation of Munir Chowdhury’s ‘Roktattyo Prantor’. Currently five jatra-palas are being worked on and with the same view, 64 jatras are going to be created in 64 districts.
Already BSA has selected and sent 64 traditional stories to all the districts which will soon be completed and ready for the audience. BSA Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky has expressed hope that BSA’s initiatives along with everyone’s earnest co-operation will help to revive the long lost tradition of jatra.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy has been playing a vital role in conserving, fostering and monitoring the development of cultures and traditions of Bangladesh, especially in the media sector. The Academy’s Dramatics and Film Department has already implemented some of the projects related to theatres, puppets, films and jatras. There was a time when jatra-pala was something that was prepared and advertised in villages for days. Villagers would eagerly look forward to the shows which would take place overnight and finish at dawn. BSA is working tirelessly so that the modern audience of Bangladesh can grow the same enthusiasm towards jatra.