Rajeshwar Singh ‘Raju’
M. L. Dogra, the founder of Bhartiya Lok Sangeet Kala Sansthan Jammu, an Institute of Indian Classical and Traditional Music is a multitalented Theatre artiste. He belongs to a family of artists as his father Lt. Amar Nath and uncle used to sing Bhakhs, a very popular form of Dogri folk music. Hailing from a Yogis or Gattar family, a word used for folk singers, he was interested in music right from his childhood and sought advanced training in music at Punjab University, Chandigarh where from he completed his B. Music as well. Here he got an opportunity to learn different forms of dance from the experts of the field like Kathak from Ranjit Singh and Manipuri dance from H.L Kundoo.
It is pertinent to add here that on professional front, he had started his carrier as Field Assistant in Directorate of Field Publicity, Government. of India that just helped him immensely to fulfil his desire of working in art field in the state. In the same process, he started training students for Cultural Functions in various Schools in coordination with the Distt. Youth Welfare officers. In 2018, although he retired as Regional Director, but after superannuation he started devoting all his time for a noble cause of making masses aware of our rich cultural traditions and eradicating the social evils prominently through art, a very potent form of expression that casts an everlasting spell on the spectators.
Amazingly, he is not only a very good actor, dancer and director that has been proved with numerous of his Musical Plays being performed all over the state and even outside state, but he is a very talented writer as well. His writing skills are witnessed in his written plays and other literary works. He writes in Hindi and Dogri language and a couple of books like “Preet Lari_ Doli” & “Sheran Wali”, based upon musical plays are also to his credit. Maximum of his works are based upon social evils that have been widely appreciated for their contents and electrifying presentations.
He has the credit of writing, producing and directing 1st Folk Theatre based Dance Drama ‘MAA SHERAN WALI’, that depicts story of Holy Cave ‘Mata Vaishno Devi ‘ . The presentation was a blend of various regional Folk Theatre forms including Jaarian ,Dhole, Thali, Lotta, King, Narsingha, Flute, Sarangi, Dogra Dhol, Nagara Tasha ,Shankh, Sawarmanadal , Jarian, Karkan, Bhakhan, Geetru, Bhajans etc. His other outstanding Dance Dramas include Doli, Kathoti Main Ganga, Rang Dari Deo, Nai Chetna , Beti Bachao Beti Padao,Tum Chandan Main Pani etc. He has also written many lyrics on various themes in Dogri, Punjabi and Hindi languages that have been widely used in different performances.
Dogra has been honoured on many occasions by the Government as well as other organizations for his contribution to Indian Folk Music and Dance. To mention a few, that include, All India Cultural Bonanza Award -95, Best Award for Dance Drama “Doli” ,Best Cultural Award of Folk Dances of India by J&K Government at BSF Festival Jammu – 1995, Best Rally and Cultural organizer Award by the Youth and Sports-1981, Best musical belle award for ” Maa Sheran Wali ” at Katra by Navratra Festival Committee in 1997, Best Production ‘Rang Dari Deo’ award by Mela Committees Nainital in 2003 and Almora in 2004, Harmukh Ganga Award -2010 by AMPCC, Delhi, Indraprstha Kashyap Award -2010 by Indraprastha Ki Baat Channel, Awarded best Folk Theatre performance award by Sanskar Bharti 2011, Best Production award by printer association J&K in 2011 and numerous others that speak a lot about his dedication and devotion for promoting regional cultural traditions through Folk music and Dance.
While interacting , Dogra made a valid point that time has changed and people aspire for a short-cut to accomplish anything in life.
Such an approach is more pragmatic in art arena. Everybody opting for earning name and fame in media is ready to go to any extent without caring for repercussions. People are not ready to agree with the hard core realities of sufferings that mark the ladder towards success in this particular medium of expressions. One cannot become artist over night by merely technical knowledge. Though the artists polish their talent with proper teachings/trainings but the spark for the same has to be there.
While concluding I would like to add that M.L.Dogra’s plus point is that despite being a talented writer, actor and director, he still likes to learn and experiment so as to polish his creative and innovative input. The younger generation of artists should learn from him.
Rajeshwar Singh ‘Raju’