The Bold Voice of J&K

Role of Dogri Theatre

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Mohd. Yaseen
In recent times, Dogri Theatre has witnessed tremendous growth and development with its contemporary experiments. It emerged on the national scene on its own strength. There are ample theatre groups working for promotion of theatre and the theatre in Jammu has created a niche in its field in which we have seen distinct work being created and produced in this part of the world. There are groups one can find in almost all the cities of India which practice theatre just for the heck of theatre and do productions mostly inspired and copied from the mainstream theatre. Jammu theatre, which has made its identity outside Jammu also, is primarily done in Dogri- a language which has the honour of having included in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution. As for now the general comment for Jammu theatre is that it has established its own identity both in its content and performance. People admit that it is modern as well as rooted in the cultural soil of Jammu. What are the underlined salient features of this distinct work could be known only by peeping deep into each and every aspect of its dramaturgy.
The hills of Jammu not only attract the tourist for its intrinsic beauty but it attracts audience from across the states to watch the plays of Jammu. Since it had its unique theatrical element present in most of the plays, it is much appreciated by the audience. New directors have tried to experiment with all the traditional forms and have presented it to the world with its freshness and zeal intact. They have tried to explore all forms of narrative and storytelling. Be it musicals, dramas, mega performances, Dogri theatre has offered everything to its audience.
Natrang Jammu has been a special contributor to Dogri Theatre; plays Bawa Jitto and Ghumayee have created a new identity in the Indian theatre world over the years. Dogri play Bawa Jitto is the longest living theatre production of India has been staged at every nook and corner of the country with over 50 national Theatre Festivals. The play has been done over 140 times. The play ‘Ghumayee’ is yet another masterpiece by Balwant Thakur which have been showcased over 80 times within and outside Jammu. The play is having the honour of being presented in Frankfurt International Theatre Festival Russia, 8th Theatre Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
It is also pertinent to mention here that the Dogri play ‘Suno Eh Kahani’ written and directed by Balwant Thakur has been staged over 300 times and also presented in National Open Air Theatre Festival in Kolkatta. Dogri Theatre did not face any criticism but on the contrary surprised many for the fact that despite the absence of the theatre traditions it emerged as a distinct identity of Indian theatre which has its own flavour, grammar and above all its own idiom deeply rooted in its soil language and culture.
The role of theatre for the promotion of dogri language can’t be denied as lots of stalwarts have done immensely for it. Art lovers have started working hard for the upliftment of Dogri language. Adaptation of plays in dogri language is one such development for which many theatres are doing adapted dogri scripts. Young artist like Abhishek Bharti, Ravinder Sharma etc. have taken their plays viz. Blood and Beauty, Bawa Jitmal, Dak Ghar and many more outside Jammu and promoted its language. The stalwarts like Balwant Thakur, Mohan Singh, Sudhir Mahajan, Mushtaq Kak, Deepak Kumar etc have given a new definition to the Dogri Theatre.
Dogri theatre stood tall with Indian theatre which brought encouragement for the language. In the coming days, the way theatre practitioners are doing work, the day will definitely come when a Jammuites visits outside, they will be known by Dogra instead of Jammu. The work done by the doyens will be remembered in years to come.
(The writer is a freelance writer and a National Scholarship & Fellowship Holder from Ministry of Culture, Government of India)

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