Monday, November 07, 2011

Cruelty will come like culture, warns the artist

Sunday,  July 24, 2005

AN actor must not be confined to drama alone. Acting is not synonymous with performance; poetry is acting; conversation is acting.

On Saturday evening, theatre personality Ram Gopal Bajaj demonstrated what acting means when liberated from the confines of an auditorium. Sitting atop a table, and not behind it, Bajaj read poems and spoke to a spellbound audience.

In a meet-the-artiste evening organised by the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademy, Bajaj drew the attention of the audience to the fact that in the last fifty years the "mood" of the society has become more aggressive, pernicious and violent. This he ascribed to a complete overlooking of foundational matters of culture and education. Identifying with each other is exactly what is missing from our degenerating culture, Bajaj said.

Theatre, he said, has not become part of our primary education system like other arts namely, painting, musicand dance.

When someone from the audience asked him about the future of theatre, he said without mincing words, "I am horrified when I see the symptoms of decay."

With the maddening increase in the city's population how many cultural centres, had come up, especially for children, he asked. Interspersing his talk and audiences' questions with poems of eminent Hindi writers like Kumar Ambuj, Kunwar Narayan and Ajneya, Bajaj lauded poetry for engaging with culture in a critical manner, a point that theatre misses out.

He said while the theatre doyen Alkazi had shaped his dramatic skills, it was Ajneya who shaped his sanskaras and his ethical notions.

By the time the evening ended with Ajneya's poem "Ghar", the soft spoken thespian had made one thing strikingly clear - In a shrinking cultural space, acting is the only way to survive.


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