Theatre goes silent at Srinagar’s ‘forgotten’ Drama Division
‘Staff Enjoying Siesta Outside JK ’
Srinagar, Aug 2: Established with an objective to “create awareness among the general public on social, economic and democratic ideals” with the active co-operation of the J&K Government by organizing drama festivals, the Srinagar’s Song and Drama Division’s sub-center is non-functional for the past many years now.
The Song & Drama Division, which operates under the aegis of Central Ministry of Information and Broadcasting—has nine sub-centers located at Bhubneshwar, Hyderabad, Patna, Imphal, Jodhpur, Darbhanga, Nainital, Shimla and Srinagar.
While all other centres are functional, the Srinagar’s sub-centre has turned defunct for over two decades now, thus hitting theater performances badly. Pertinently, the Valley has a rich tradition of theatre-performances. However, it is widely believed that due to official apathy, the genre couldn’t get due attention and promotion.
The office of Srinagar sub-center was located at Nowgam. However, presently even its telephone is defunct—something which goes against the Song and Drama Division’s mandate.
According to observers, the main function of sub centers is to create awareness and emotional receptivity among the general public regarding social, economic and democratic ideals which are conducive to the progress of the society. However, sources said, not a single performance was carried out by the sub-center over the past two decades.
The Division also directs its sub centers to “reach out to people in border areas and give them a sense of defence preparedness and cultural integrity.” “People should be informed through live entertainment which includes both urban theatre forms and folk forms covering all the regions,” the Division recommends. “All the sub centers would be organizing drama festivals with the active cooperation of the concerned State Governments and they have to make ensure to reach out to isolated places.”
Each sub-centre is headed by an assistant director or a manager and comprises of one UDC and LDC, peon and chowkidar. However, according to the sources, the sub center is without any official at present. “Some of its key officials stay at Chandigarh and don’t visit the centre for months together,” they said.
The artist fraternity of the Valley holds a different view about the Song and Drama Division. “It has been defunct for long and was introduced here only for state propaganda in the early ‘90s,” said Arshad Mushtaq, a Kashmiri theater artist and filmmaker. “There is no fun of its existence if it does not make programmes and inform people about things which fall under its mandate. That the Division is defunct for many years is enough to prove that the Ministry doesn’t want to perform the task anymore.”
He said after the retirement of many artists who were working for the Sub Center, it was entirely closed down. “I have not heard about a single programme being undertaken by the Centre. It is non-existent,” he said.
A script writer, who was working for the Sub-Center in ‘90s, told Greater Kashmir that Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had its own reasons to “silently kill” the branch in Valley. “They felt unnerved. They had staff which was not prepared to work here. And they finally started to evacuate,” he said.
Pertinently the Song and Drama Division was set up in 1954 as a unit of All India Radio and was given the status of an independent media unit in 1960 as a Subordinate office of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Despite repeated attempts, no official from the Division was available for comments.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 2 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 2 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 3 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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