Hara Gupta and his Leto Gaan, a performing art of lower class

Posted by Kaahon Desk On October 9, 2016

Leto Gaan has been a significant aspect of the folk culture in the Burdwan-Birbhum region of West Bengal. It can be described as performing art form, which combines elements of drama, song, dance and music. In most of the cases, male actors perform the part of women. Leto performances often address various facets of the rural social life along with popular myths and legends. Hara Kumar Gupta of Sri Durga Leto Asar fondly recalls his early days with a Leto Gaan troupe. It was the colour and excitement which pulled him towards the art as a child and it has been an intense love affair ever since. While it has always been looked down by the upper strata of society, Leto Gaan has given him unconditional love from his audience, if not wealth and acclaim. It also gave him a chance to be acquainted with eminent personalities and play his own humble role in a lineage of a legend like Kazi Nazrul Islam. However, he laments the declining popularity of the art form in the wake of Television and extreme commercialisation. Everything, including native art forms are mutating into something more superficial and flashy while the original is declining and being forgotten. In the Leto Gaan performance titled ‘Lyalar Biye’ or Lyala’s wedding, the issue of gender discrimination in the society which become more apparent during the marriage customs, is being addressed within a light comic framework.

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