In the city of Kolkata itself there are more than twenty Jatra troupes, ten permanently professional and eleven Thekawali (temporarily engaged actors on contract). Each group offers around three plays a year. The season starts in September and performance continues till the monsoon next year. After the performance season gets over, all troupes are disbanded and actors are given the free hand to join any company. The only permanent staffs of the group is the manager, who spends the rest of the time clearing dues of actors or looking for good potential actors for the coming season. Each new actor has to sign a legal agreement for nine month span and advance payment is done as per calibre. As for the audience, they are completely aware that the standard of art for a particular group changes with change of actors. In the 1962, the Navaranjan Opera was one of the favourite, the following year Janta Opera popularized its name. The main attraction of 1964 was Natta Bharati mainly due to Chhota Phani and the comedian, Hiralal Bannerjee. The one jatra group that was able to maintain the standard year after year was the Natta Company, headed by Surya Dutta. Some of the actors even spend thirty years with this group, so the fan base was also huge.
The Jatrais vastly organized which is controlled with private people. The troups work through middle men known as dalals. This actually helps to free the group from taking the worry of where to perform next. It does not have to bother about the sale of tickets as well- the middleman takes care of these affairs. There is always a presence of throbbing audience. In Jatra, no amplifiers or microphones are used, and it is here that Jatra stands out of Tamasha or Nautanki, which use famous for rampant use of microphones. The jatra troupes from Bengal visit various Indian states like Assam, Orissa, Biharand to various districts of West Bengal and of other eastern states as well. These troups performs in far off areas as well like Varanasi and Delhi, which has a large presence of Bengali population.
In some of the districts of Bengal like Nadia, Hoogly and Burdwan, the competition of Jatra are held during the festival of Durga Puja.
Most of the districts have their own Jatra companies, but these actually do not command popularity beyond own locality. Currently, a performance in Jatra, like in professional theatre in cities, starts on time. Often a touring jatra troupe maintains a tight schedule. Therefore there is a lot of discipline that have come in to the jatra culture and as a result it now has a lot of takers.
The style of writing jatra is unique and one of the famous authors of jatra was Brojindra Kumar Dey, a headmaster in a small town school. He had an uncanny knack of holding together the attention of the audience. Political colours have always been a part of jatra. Political consciousness of Bengalis has never failed to express itself. The introduction of female actors in jatra was one of the turning points in jatra companies.
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