Correspondent (Jammu) Five days 2nd Theatre Festival was inaugurated by Sh. Kavinder Gupta, Hon,ble Speaker Legislative Assembly, at Abhinav Theatre Jammu today. The festival was organized by Sangam Theatre Group Reasi and supported by Ministry of Culture (Govt. of India). MLC Ajay Bharti and Dr. Aziz Hajani Secretary, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages were the guest of Honours on the occasion. M. Akram Khan Director Sangam Theatre Group Reasi welcomed the distinguished guests, artists and audience on the occasion.
Five-days long 2nd theatre Festival opened with Rakesh Roshan Bhat , Hindi play ‘Ek Aur Birbal’ performed by Vomedh Rang manch and directed by Rohit Bhat. The play revolves around Pandit Birbal Dhar, Pandit ji finds a passing mention in the history of Kashmir. But when one deeply analyzes what Birbal Dhar managed to achieve with his sheer wisdom, character and fortitude his contribution assumes gigantic proportions in the light of current geo-political structure of Indian subcontinent. He was a catalyst in integration of Jammu and Kashmir region into India through Sikhs in 1819 AD.
Afghani Durrani clan had already been ruling Kashmir for about 6 decades when due to some turn of events Pandit Birbal Dhar decided to beseech Maharaja Ranjit Singh to come to the rescue of Kashmiri Pandits. It was not an easy decision to make. It required great vision, great will, great wisdom and great sacrifice. He had to have belief that he would be able to convince Maharaja to help him since Maharaja’s earlier attempt to enter Kashmir had been foiled by Azim Khan in 1812 AD. Azim Khan was the Afghani governer of Kashmir at that time and Birbalwas one of his tax collectors. Birbal also knew that his family and near ones would be slaughtered by ruthless Azim Khan once he would come to know of his exploits. He also left his son Raja Kak in Maharaja’s durbar as guarantee. Birbal Dhar was fortitude personified. Kashmir has always held a great importance in this part of the world map because of its strategic trade routes, captivating natural beauty, rich flora and fauna and natural resources. Once the outside world got a whiff of this, invaders from North and North- West borders starting entering Kashmir. Mohd Ghaznavi failed in his attempt in 11th century but Mongolian invader Dalucha devastated Kashmir in 14th Century. Around 60,000 Kashmiri Pandits got killed then. It was around the same time that the Muslim rule started in Kashmir. Then for about five centuries the unabated persecution of Kashmiri Pandits continued in the valley. They were given 3 choices; to convert, to die or to flee. ButBirbal Dhar did not succumb to any of those choices. He turned the tables on Afghani’s instead and chose to fight with his wisdom and foresight. The successful capture of Kashmir by Sikhs under the guidance of Birbal Dhar ensured the inclusion of Kashmir region into Indian Territory.
The artist performed in the play included Sunny Mujoo as Birbal, Vinay Pandita as Mirza kak, Rahul Pandita as Raj kak, Rajni Bhatti as Birbal Wife, Puneet Bali as Azim Khan, Himagini as Rajkak wife, King C Bharti as Basaram, Ashish Bhat as Sukh Ram, Jatin as Anwar Khan, Anil Bhat as Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Ramesh Pandita as Phool Singh. Assisted by Daisy Bajaj, Art Vir ji Sumbli, Lights- Pankaj Sharm Sound- Lokesh ,Makeup- Shammi Dhamir,the use of typical Pandit costumes by Bharti Koul, JK Bali, Shoki Lidhoo.
While speaking on the occasion, Chief Guest Hon. Kavinder Gupta complimented the organizers for organizing 2nd theatre festival at Abhinav Theatre and hoped that this will continue as a regular feature in J&K. He further said that this type of festivals nurture the upcoming talents and artists get the knowledge of new trends and techniques used in the modern theatre. Hon MLC Shri Ajay Bharti appreciated the efforts made by Sangam There Group and thanked Ministry of Culture GOI for supporting the group to organize such a wonderful event. Dr. Aziz Hajini said that this is one of the great contribution of this group to promote the theatre culture in J&K State.Tomorrow, a Dogri Play “Danger” will be staged by Dogri Sahitya Mandal Ramnagar, under the direction of Jagdeep Dubey.