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'Drama king has fair chance'

Ratan Lakhar wants to script a comedy for himself as he woos voters in the state, writes Rahul Karmakar.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 14:11 IST

He brought the Titanic to Assam theatres, carrying the prow of a sinking ship and the tale of two doomed lovers across the state.

Now, Ratan Lakhar wants to script a comedy for himself as he woos voters in Patacharkuchi constituency.

He will reel out a dialogue while drummers in his troupe pitch the beats high. It is high drama here, true to its heritage.

This laidback town in Nalbari district is the mecca of Assam's mobile theatre, which scores over TV and movies as the most popular form of entertainment. And here, like Leonardo DiCaprio says in Titanic, Lakhar is the king of the world.

However, "Lakharda" kept a low profile until March 23 when at a public meeting, about 500 fans asked him to contest. "I kept telling them I was not cut out for politics, that I might be a disaster as their representative," says Lakhar. "They would not leave me until I said yes."

Of the 1.25 lakh voters, there are many Lakhar fans. "Lakharda has a fair chance as people in this constituency seldom vote for a major party. They usually go by the individual," says Krishna Ray of Nagarik Oikya Mancha, a Lakhar fan club. "Besides, he is an honest man."

Ray has a point. In the 2001 elections, Pabindra Deka of little-known Purbanchaliya Loka Parishad won, defeating Congress' Moloya Barman. This time, both Deka and Barman are in the fray along with Phani Pathak of the AGP, Manoranjan Das of BJP and four others.

When he is not giving speeches, Lakhar works among the props and people at his Kohinoor Theatre, the oldest and arguably the most popular among 40 mobile theatre groups in the state.

The groups shot to global fame after staging Diana and following it up with Titanic and Anaconda. They employ over 25,000 people and clock an annual turnover of Rs 30 crore.