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Saddam's 'hanging' sold out in Kolkata

The former Iraqi despot may have an outside chance of escaping the gallows, but for Indian folk theatre, he's dead.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2006 15:07 IST

Saddam Hussein might have an outside chance of escaping the hangman's noose through an appeal process in Baghdad, but for followers of Indian folk theatre, the toppled Iraqi leader is already a dead man.

Saddam at the Gallows opens on December 2 in Kolkata and the first 50 shows have already sold out.

"We are expecting huge profits and have requests pouring in from many states of India to stage shows," said director Haradhan Roy.

The play opens in a high-security prison where Saddam is being held, with a debate about whether hanging him is the right thing to do. The curtain falls with Saddam being led away to the gallows.

"We are deliberating whether to enact Saddam's hanging live on stage because many people may not like it," Roy said.

A US-backed Iraqi court sentenced Saddam on Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity. Legal experts and officials say the appeals process could take months.

Indian folk-theatre plays, known as jatras, are shown on giant outdoor stages and feature loud music, plenty of songs performed with gusto but often without microphones, harsh lighting and dramatic props.

Theatre troupes travel around rural towns and cities and a single show often fetches 50,000 to 70,000 rupees ($1,000-1,200).

With cable television and Bollywood films threatening the art form, troupes are tackling contemporary issues such as the 2004 Asian tsunami or the September 11 attacks on the United States to woo the crowds back.

Saddam at the Gallows is the sequel to "Saddam the Prisoner" which also played to packed houses in the city.

Operation Flush is another popular drama on the US-occupation of Iraq and torture at the Abu Ghraib prison.

First Published: Nov 10, 2006 15:07 IST