Theater & Kashmir

March 28, 2017 0 Comments EDITORIAL 192 Views
Theater & Kashmir

On World Theatre Day, Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a charged atmosphere of parliamentary poll preparations in south and central Kashmir with every major mainstream political party pushing their political actors on stage. However nothing changes for the masses- especially for hundreds of destitute artists, who have been serving in the volatile State, preserving various forms of arts. Kashmir itself has turned into a real-life, blood-soaked play. One couldn’t help thinking about the electric atmosphere in Srinagar’s Tagore Hall, where you could simply walk up to and chat with the actors and directors. The sparkling performances, the ‘comedy evenings’, and the cathartic nature of the theatre festivals are seldom organised on mass scales. But with actors from that era now being forced to pick up petty jobs, does it mean the death of theatre in Kashmir? The thought makes me shudder. The older generation of Kashmiris might have fond memories of nights spent at Neelam and Broadway Cinema. However, a generation that was born amid the chant of slogans for azaadi hardly has any idea of theatre. Instead, it has seen Kashmir itself turn into a blood-soaked play. A play with the Orwellian Big Brother as its director, where the actors are real, and bullets kill and pellets maim. Political alienation is the main theme of this real-life play and the characters are in search of peace in uncertain times. And Kashmir has also become a political laboratory where people are the victims of murky machinations. The state is lost amid skilfully-crafted political rhetoric. As for theatre itself, the occasionally organised Bhand Pather (Kashmiri folk plays) and theatre festivals should not delude us into thinking that a vibrant theatre culture still thrives in the Valley. Political Troubles Killed has been a result to kill the creativity in the region. But the decline of theatre is not just about the unemployment of once-loved actors. Instead, it is more about political mismanagement and the troubled present-day state of Kashmir. For liberal arts and free thinking to take centre stage, peace is vital. But unfortunately, Kashmir is devoid of it. Perhaps the current attitude towards comedies speaks volumes about the mental state of the people. Tragic stories are now more popular in Kashmir than comic ones. Tragedy echoes the tough times the people of the Valley are themselves confronted with. One wonders whether it will again be possible and viable to hold shows like the Kashmiri comedy nights, where people are free from all forms of violence and sorrow – both real and in art.

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