The popularity of Jatra, a centuries-old travelling theatre tradition in India’s West Bengal state, is in decline. Soumya Sankar Bose photographs former Jatra artists who have been struggling to make ends meet.
This theatre style usually consists of four-hour-long, high-energy plays featuring loud music, harsh lighting and extravagant props played out on giant stages under open skies.
But there has been a steady decline in the number of people who like to watch Jatra, leaving many artists without work.
Mr Bose “was born in an extended family of Jatra actors” and “closely witnessed the private lives of the artists as the industry crumbled”. In the past 18 months, he has photographed former Jatra artists who still don’t mind wearing their costumes and showcasing their skills.
Mr Bose said his photographs address “the issue of the dwindling practice of Jatra and highlight former artists’ inability to sustain themselves”.
Jatra scripts have drawn heavily from Indian mythology.
Mr Bose said his project was aimed at blurring the difference between “the real and the staged” world. “We found creatively engaging ways to photograph the artists and also document their past,” he said.
Jatra groups have struggled in recent years because of the easily available entertainment on television and mobile phones.