Fragrance of Punjab brought alive on stage

REGIONAL THEATRE

The stage illuminated with saffron colour and the auditorium filled with anxious audience who were present to witness the Punjabi play Khadd.

The play was staged as part of the ‘Punjabi Theatre Festival’ that kicked off in the City recently at Sri Ram Centre for Art and Culture.

Directed by eminent dramatist Pali Bhupinder Singh, Khadd portrays the inner character of a man whose social character is extremely prominent in the society.

The play focussed on men determined to live an unmarried (brahmchari) life. These men confine themselves in a crypt (bhora), to avoid any interaction with women. It is through the lives of these  men that the play shows a conflict between bhog and jog.

The theatrical performance convinced all about the herd mentality and limited awareness of the followers in the deras spread across Punjab by staging what happens inside these religious hubs.

Pali said, “The bhora (crypt) tradition is still prevalent in the deras spread across Punjab and that is what formed the crux of this play.” When asked about his inspiration, he added, “While researching about the traditions of dera, I once happened to sit with a sant in a dera and was amazed to hear him talk mainly about women during our 45-minute long chat. This made me analyse that though stree (woman) is not allowed inside the dera, she is present inside the mind of a man.”

The protagonist of the play, Sachin Kohli, who enacted the character of Sant Pooran Dass, mesmerised everyone with his performance. Sachin revealed, “This role was a tough one for me and I was scolded by the director so many times, but I am happy that the best role in the play landed in my kitty.”

Another favourite character in the play was that of manager Bachan Lal that added the much required comic element. This role was played by Gaurav Vij, who is an assistant professor at DAV College, Abohar, Punjab. Gaurav said, “Initially Punjabi theatre was dull with plays based on partition and village culture but now modern Punjabi theatre is exploring contemporary issues too.”

Twinkle Kaur, who had come to watch the play said, “The play is aptly set in the dera and shows the true scenario behind the walls of these hubs. It is extremely important to make the audience aware of the reality and the play succeeded in doing so.”

The festival organised by Punjabi Academy in association with Department of Art, Culture, and Languages, Government of Delhi will showcase plays namely Drishti Daan by Kewal Dhaliwal, Panch nad Da Pani by Atamji, Mangoo Te Bikkar by Ravi Taneja and A Wife’s letter by Neelam Mansingh Chaudhary in the following days.

Talking about the relevance of Punjabi theatre in Delhi, Rawail Singh, secretary, Punjabi Academy, said, “Punjabi theatre has a huge audience in Delhi and it is to cater to their interests that we organise around 25 plays every year. A houseful audience for Punjabi theatre is in itself evident of its fan following.”  

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