Narendra Singh, an alleged criminal from Rohtak in Haryana and younger brother of an official of Tihar Jail, has been lodged as an undertrial prisoner at Kolkata’s Presidency Jail on charges of extortion for the past six years and six months.
But on February 7, Singh will transform into an artist for the first time by performing the role of Jesus Christ in a dance drama organised by the International Book Fair authorities, publishers and booksellers guild. The dance drama, which comprises ballet and Tagore’s songs, is based on the life and times of Christ, and will be staged on the occasion of the Kolkata Literary Festival. The first show of the dance drama in which 49 inmates of Presidency Jail took part, was staged last month for a select gathering at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata.
Conceptualised by noted danseuse Alakananda Ray, the 55-minute ballet is part of the West Bengal government’s endeavour to reform the inmates and improve the condition of life in jails. Ray’s earlier production was Balmiki Pratibha, a dance drama of Tagore in which too prisoners took part. “I had a dream of showing the life and times of Jesus Christ and by God’s grace, I have been able to do that. The jail authorities too helped me to fulfil our project,’’ Ray said.
She said Narendra, a young man, had overcome personal tragedies to do the role of Jesus. “His father is a cancer patient and Narendra is quite upset about it. But still he has given all the attention to his role and doing it with such elan that I am surprised,’’ Ray added.
Chandrima Bhattacharya, state minister for law and health was all praise for Ray’s efforts. “I have seen her Balmiki Pratibha and it was amazing. I will definitely see her Jesus Christ whenever I find time,’’ Bhattacharya told The Indian Express.