If you might have seen the film Prepare to Pakistan, chances are high you bear in mind Davinder Daman, who has carried out on this and a number of other Hindi, Punjabi, and English movies. However performing shouldn’t be his solely id. As an alternative, he’s higher identified in India as a scriptwriter, a stage actor and a theatre director.

Throughout his extraordinary profession spanning over half a century, Daman has penned nearly 50 performs which were carried out in Pakistan, India, the US, Canada and Thailand. These increase social consciousness on gender bias, inequalities, and marginalization in agrarian societies. He additionally runs the Norah Richards Rangmanch theatre group in his hometown of Mohali close to Chandigarh.

He has lately printed a set of his performs. The Punjabi Academy in New Delhi has included an English translation of his play Qatra Qatra Zindagi in an anthology of performs it has printed.

Within the following interview, Daman talks about all kinds of points together with avenue and widespread theatre, freedom of expression, and theatre’s contribution in elevating social consciousness.

The Information on Sunday: You had been raised in rural Punjab, the place stage drama and literature aren’t part of life. How did you develop an curiosity in theatre?

Davinder Daman: As a toddler, I used to be thrilled to look at nautankis carried out in my village. In these days, bhands and comedians used to carry out at weddings, and it was nice enjoyable to look at them. Then I began performing as a toddler artist on the street theatre produced by some progressive teams that visited my village. These actions grew to become a major supply of coaching that ready me to take part in class performs, the place the visiting Parsi theatre corporations additionally impressed me to be a part of the wonderful world of theatre.

TNS: How would you differentiate between avenue theatre and widespread theatre?

DD: For my part, the target of stage drama is leisure, whereas the road theatre primarily goals at elevating social consciousness among the many plenty. Don’t get me mistaken, it doesn’t imply that stage theatre can not promote social points, however more often than not, leisure is their enterprise. Additionally, the road theatre involves carry out for its viewers and the stage viewers goes to the venue. I might say the road theatre primarily addresses social and cultural points, and that pop theatre has a special goal altogether.

TNS: Avenue theatre has had a crucial function in India traditionally. How did the progressive motion make the most of this medium to provoke a dialogue with the plenty on poverty, employees, farmers, and sophistication points?

DD: Sure, the road theatre in India started analyzing political and social points in 1941. Independence and other people’s rights had been its main themes. As avenue theatre participated within the freedom motion towards the colonial authorities of these days, British rulers suppressed these performances in a number of areas, primarily for its nationalistic content material. A play spearheaded by Bhagat Singh was banned on the Lahore Nationwide Faculty of Arts. Avenue theatre was additionally a big pressure behind the 1946 rural rebellion in 4,000 villages of Hyderabad, the place feudal lords had been faraway from their land. The farmers additionally refused to pay taxes within the Punjab in 1957-58 with help from avenue theatre. Quite a few individuals misplaced their lives or had been arrested through the battle.

TNS: We hear quite a bit about curbs on freedom of expressionin the subcontinent as of late. Do you assume it has reached the world of theatre but?

DD: Governments wouldn’t have to curb the media as of late as media homes are managed by company lobbies that don’t enable any criticism of the federal government as a part of media discourse. This helps hold alive an phantasm of democracy. Traditionally, nonetheless, the theatre has at all times been a first-rate goal of presidency restrictions in India earlier than and after independence. My play Suraj ka Qatl (Killing the Solar) was banned within the 1975-76 emergency in India regardless that it was primarily based on the lifetime of Guru Taigh Bahadur as a historic determine. One other play, Tapish (The Warmth), was banned because it uncovered the state intelligence companies. My play on Bhagat Singh additionally got here beneath assault through the resistance motion within the Indian Punjab when a college in Haryana cancelled it and known as the police. The viewers, nonetheless, stored watching the play at the hours of darkness utilizing their cell telephones as a supply of sunshine after the college minimize off electrical energy provide on the campus. 4 completely different teams have carried out the play in Pakistan. One of many performances was at Shadman Chowk in Lahore, the place the place Bhagat Singh was hanged.

TNS: You’ve got been a stage performer and a playwright for a very long time. Do you assume TV has adversely affected the theatre in India?

DD: Theatre has been part of the Indian custom for a very long time. It survived the movie trade first, then TV and now social media. I don’t assume different media retailers can change theatre. The truth is, theatre has now develop into a culturally built-in establishment. Festivals at the moment are being organized, and conferences being held on numerous points of stagecraft and theatre. I might say individuals the brand new media can mesmerize the individuals, however its overarching affect is non permanent.

TNS: In what sense is Punjabi theatre completely different from the Hindi theatre? How do you see the way forward for theatre in India?

DD: The Punjabi theatre is certainly a latest phenomenon as in comparison with the Hindi theatre in India, which has been lively since 1914 when an Irishwoman, Norah Richards, produced the play Suhag written by Ishwar Chander Nanda. Because the Punjab has been a goal of international invasions, theatrical custom took a very long time to take root right here. In its absence, the custom was stored alive by the favored folks comedians referred to as bhands. Let me say, nonetheless, that the standard of Punjabi theatre isn’t any worse than the Hindi theatre. The way forward for avenue and pop theatre appears to be very vibrant in India. On the identical time, the plight of the inventive lot related to the stagecraft continues to be deplorable.


The writer is a tutorial scholar, media strategist, and freelance journalist primarily based in the US

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