Lalit Gupta profiles the eventful year of 2016 that will be long remembered for more than five-month long Kashmir unrest, skirmishes on J&K border and mass displacement, ecstasies and agonies of demonetization at the same time the resolve of Mehbooba Mufti-led PDD and BJP ruling alliance to give fillip to the sphere of culture by way of envisaging building infrastructure for cultural spaces and practices at the district level.Till the state government’s ambitious plans are implemented on the ground, it is the time to duly record
contributions and achievements of creative individuals whose contributions kept alive and ticking Jammu’s cultural scene in 2016.
Before mentioning achievers of this year let us pay homage to those who bid goodbye to this mortal world. These include Kavi Rattan, pioneer of modern theatre in J&K, Prof Sat Pal Srivatsya, scholar, writer of Sanskrit, Hindi, Dogri, English, and Vachaspati Sharma, renowned sitar player and former principal of Institutes of Music & Fine arts, Jammu & Srinagar.
Awards: Sahitya Akademi Awards: Chhatrapal, eminent Dogri, Hindi writer was bestowed with 2016 national award for literature for his Dogri short story collection Cheta and Aziz Hazni, for Kashmiri for his book Aan e Khane.
Padma Sachdev was awarded for her autobiography in Dogri ‘Chitt-Chete’.
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award: Mushtaq Kak, for his contributions in theatre direction. Sahitya Akademi’s Bal Sahitya Puraskar: Om Goswami for his novelette Jangal Ch Mangal. Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar: Brham Dutt Magotra for his poetry book Kule Bhav.
National Sahitya Akademi translation award: Chhatrapal, for his Dogri translation of Kameleshwar’s Hindi novel ‘Kitne Pakistan’ and Dr. Ratan Lal Shant, for Kashmiri translation Ved Rahi’s Dogri novel ‘Lal Ded’.
Kendriya Hindi Nideshayala Puruskar: Sharda Sahni for her book Sang Tarash, Savita Bakshi for Sangeet Sarita, Sunita Bhadwal for Mian Dido and to veteran Dogri, Hindi writer Desh Bandhu Nutan Dogra. Hans Katha Samman: to Yogita Yadav, Hindi writer and journalist (Dainik Jagran), for her short story Rajdhani Ke Bhitar Bahar.
Prof Ram Nath Shastri Smriti Puruskar: Deepamala, for her first book of Dogri short stories ‘Sukkhan’. Ist Kunwar Viyogi Sahitya Puruskar: Pankaj Kumar, young Dogri writer for his book Keengre Da Rukkh. State award for journalism to Sanjeev pargal.
Young Achievers: Piyush Bhagat, the dancing sensation was 2nd Runner up in a dance show on Star plus. He is doing a movie ABCD 3, directed by Remo d Souza.
Sonali Dogra: won the prestigious title of ‘Voice of Punjab’ organized by PTC’s Singing Talent Hunt Show in Amritsar. Other young talents who made their impact included Shreya Gandral, singer.
Balwant Thakur took his presentations to London, Oxford, Brighton, Stratford, Birmingham, Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Xining, Wuzhong, Yinchuan, and Mianyang. He led Indian Government Cultural delegation to China in 10th China International Folk art festival at Xining and was honored by China Federation of Arts, Deputy Mayor of London, Ministry of Human Resource Development, and Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi.
Films: Hailing from Vijay Pur, Amit Dutta’s short film ‘Scenes from a Sketchbook’ was nominated for the Grand Prize at Oberhausen Germany and Gran Prix prize at the Zagreb. Another film ‘Even Red Can be Sad’ on writer and painter Ram Kumar (with the son of the soil and international performance artist Nikhil Chopra as its cast) was screened at Mumbai International Film, and Festival at Stuttgart, Germany. His first Hindi novel ‘Kaljeyi Kambakhat’ published this year got good reviews and won the prestigious Krishna Baldev Award.
With a lull in new films in local languages, the precast teaser of Rahul Sharma’s (of Geetiyan fame) new forthcoming film Neel Taskar, released in Wave Cinemas, and You Tube, is already being liked. Falguni Katoch’s (PIX) short film Grey, on Dogri poet Padam Dev Singh Nirdosh, screened at Jammu won accolades. Short films Amit Sharma are also being liked on YouTube.
Satellite Channels: Kashmiri Pandit actor Mohit Raina, hogged the limelight in Color’s serial Samrat Chandra Gupta as Chander Gupta. Neelam Pathania, Monika Singh, Subha Rajput figured in many TV serials.
National Doordarshan: Jammu’s based Dharminder Kohli’s production house D. K. Films, made a place in Prime Time Programming of national hook-up of Doordarshan with the telecast of serial Rashivilla which got the extension due to high TRP.
Doordarshan Kendra Jammu: Anjali Sharma, Head of Programs, singlehandedly surmounted challenge of running transmission of DDJ with negligible funds, the paucity of staff, and succeeded in keeping the flavor of Dogra and regional sub-cultures in Kendra’s programs.
Kendra’s archives was enriched with recordings of Cchajja, Gitru, Jagrana, Hirna, Phoomniyan and the special interactions held with Dr. Karan Singh, Padma Sachdev, Ved Rahi, C.D. Magotra, Sagar Sarhadi, K.K. Raina, Prof. Lalit Magotra, Dr. Champa Sharma, Kailash Mehra and Abhay Rustam Sopoori. Produced ‘Mera Jammu”, a special song program depicting beauty and significance of Jammu Region. The software created using multi-camera recordings included folk festivals and melas at different and remote areas of Jammu and contemporary events.
FM 92.7: Jammu’s Big FM Radio, broadcasted Big Charcha and Badi Khabar hosted by RJ Juhie to take up negligence of Dogra heritage sites, monuments, other development issues. ‘Big Power Girls’ on lines of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ added to the women empowerment campaign. “Big Street’- a concept from Metro Cities was brought to Jammu by Big FM. It also initiated ‘Big Duggar Awards’ to Dogra achievers in different fields through people’s votes. A weekly show “Big Mehmaan’ is also focused on local talent in the field of art and literature, sports etc.
Radio Kashmir Jammu launched its website and morning Gojari news bulletin. In collaboration with JKAACL, it organized Jharokha series to honor eminent personalities like Didar Singh, Krishna Gupta, SS Anand Lehar, Ved Rahi, Dr. Om Goswami, Anita Sharma, Jatinder Udhampuri, Prakash Premi, Prof. B.S.Bali, Pt. Narayan Parshad and Ravinder Jamwal. RKJ organized Utishthit Jagrat on National Youth Day, seminar on Swatch Bharat Mission at Birpur, Republic Day Celebrations with Sham-E.Ghazal, presented by Basharat Ali, Delhi, Roshan Bharti, Jaipur and Aksa, Jammu, Sanskrit Kavi Sammelan, Birth Anniversary of Bheem Rao Ambedkar, Kavi Goshthi at Bhaguna, Gojri poetic symposium & folk music concert at Kalali Murrah Surankote.
Theatre: Renovated Abhinav Theatre remained abuzz with regular theatre performances. Theatre festivals held this included Bharat Rang Mahotsav, Natya Samagama, Haryana Kala Parishad, Chandigarh, theatre fest, annual drama fest. Which gave new vision and ideas to local amateur artistes.
Natrang made history by presenting ‘Celebrating Diversity’ at House of Commons and Lords of British Parliament, at Trafalgar Square, London before 50,000 world audiences.
Natrang organized 113 plays/programs, including its masterpieces like ‘Aap Humare Hai Kaun, Ghumayee, Kauva Chala Hans Ki Chaal, at different national festivals. Plays staged under direction of Aarushi Thakur, Rahul Singh, Neeraj Kant, Balwant Thakur, were Bobby, Pehli Saans Se Pehle, Chor, Hawa Hawai, Topian, Do Kalakaar, Topian, Poorav Aur Pashchim, Gulzar’s Kharashein, Ghumayee and Henry and Anne, Bhisham Sahni’s Madhavi, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (six shows) and shows of Bawa Jitto. Natrang presented shows of Suno Eh Kahani, Choona Hai Aasmaan, and Soch in remote Indo-Pak border villages. Group’s Sunday Theatre continued non-stop for the successive 13th year.
Amateur Theatre Group under direction of Mushtaq Kak, & Ifra Kak, held Abhinav Gupt Natya Utsav, and Natya Utsav by young directors trained in NSD’s Jammu technical theater workshop, shows of Mohan Singh’s Kala Suraj, Suma Kumar’s Bunnu Miyan..Bye Bye. Ishq Malangi, on Khalid Hussain’s short stories, dramatized by Pritam Katoch, premiered at National Theatre festival featuring Akademi’s award winners, and also performed at J& K Utsav, Bharat Bhawan Bhopal, is slated to participate in National Urdu Drama Festival, Kolkata, and Rangana National Theater Festival, Mysore. Little Thespian National Theatre Repertory, Kolkata, invited Mushtaq Kak to direct Balkan Ki Auratien, which later was performed in many national theater festivals. Ifra Kak directed productions of Mahesh Elkunchwar’s Pratibimbh, which got State Akademi Award. Mushtaq Kak featured in Bollywood films Dishoom and M.S Dhoni.
Samooh Theatre led by Dr Sudhir Mahajan, and Ravindra Sharma as director, staged Dr. Gian Singh’s Hamlet and Kaliveer in Dogri, Chitta Singh, Sudhir Mahajan’s solo performance on Abhinav Gupta, Rajneesh Gupta’s adaptation of Kirayedaar, shows of play Sankalp on Swach Bharat, Natya Path of Jatinder Sharma’s play. It held playwright and theatre workshops, music programs, and book release functions.
Natraj Natya Kunj Directed by Abhishek Bharti, staged plays like The Last Colony, Gagan Damama Bajyo, The Government Inspector-all at Jammu, Blood & Beauty at Srinagar, theater workshop supported by JKAACL, and Lighting Workshop, at Dept. of Indian Theatre, Panjab University Chandigarh. Its Dogri play Blood & Beauty has been selected for Bharat Rang Mahotsav-2017.
The theatre groups with sporadic performances include Nav Durga Kala Manch, Pancham, and others. Vijay Malla’s Ek Saath Rang Mandal, under its Monday series staged short plays in educational institutions. Manoranjan Kaka Kendra under direction of Tejinder Singh Premee staged Punjabi plays: Sach Kee Bela, Ay Kasoor Kisda Hai and Pagal Lok.
Playwrights: Baljit Singh Raina got State award for best play script. Playwright Rajneesh Gupta, adapted for stage radio plays, short stories by eminent writers like Kirayedar based on Rajinder Singh Bedi’s radio play, Boodhi Kaki based on Munshi Prem Chand’s story, Budham Sharnam Gachhami and Kabuliwalah.
Visuals Art arts scene after fifty years of upward movement witnessed a setback in J&K thanks to the inaction of state government to start post-graduate courses in Institutes of Music & Fine Arts even after six years of their takeover by Universities of Jammu & Kashmir. Adding insult to injury, the local visual artists have been let down by mindless cultural policies of the State, which has turned the Kala Kendra, Jammu, from a happening centre of creative arts with well-equipped art galleries and studios for young artists, into a commercial venue, and at times the site for parking govt. vehicles. Notwithstanding, the general apathy, the individual artists continue to create, exhibit their expression and win accolades albeit outside the state.
Though unsung, Nikhil Chopra’s Live Performance was a landmark event held at Natrang studio.
Veteran sculptor Rajinder Tikku concluded assignment of Gottlieb Foundation Grant-2015 with works in Mumbai, Srinagar, and Chandigarh. He participated in International Metal Sculpture Camp at Jaipur, International Sculpture Symposium Mumbai, and India Art Fair. His works were acquired by Kiran Nadar Museum, New Delhi. He traveled to Bhutan on a cultural exchange.
Sunanda Khajuria, the Delhi based painter from Painthal, held solo shows; Moving Landscapes at Art Heritage Gallery, New Delhi & The Gallery @ InKo Centre, and Emerging Canvas-Edition IV at Saarang, The Festival of India in Korea, Indian Art Museum in Seoul and LAB Biennale at Malaysia.
Sculptor Chander Prakash attended First China Wenzhou International Horice, Czech Republic, International wood sculpture symposium Bad Salzungen Germany, National Sculptor Camp, Lucknow, International sculpture exhibition Fuzhou China.
Reecha Gupta, the freelance painter, participated in group shows at New Delhi, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, and Jammu. She received Great Women Achiever Award 2016 by ‘The Performers’. Well-known painter, Suman Gupta participated in many international and national exhibitions, artist camps and nominated to the jury for Kalanand Art Contest. Ravinder Jamwal’s along with his creative sculptures, executed statues of prominent personalities on public demand. Painter K.K. Gandhi held solo shows and participated in group shows, national level art camps. Jang Singh Verman, a graphic artist, attended camp at International Centre of Reorichs, Naggar (Kullu) and All India Painters Camps. He participated in exhibitions of Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, (LKA)Indian Academy of Fine Arts, Amritsar. The artists/teachers of IMFA; Rohit Verma, Harsh Vardhan, Milan, Sonu Agarwal, and Bishamber Mehta, exhibited their works in national exhibitions besides attending artist camps. Artists who held solo-shows were Vikas Sharma (sculptures), LKA, Sat Pal Deol and Rakesh Kumar (paintings) at Jahangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. Viraj Kala Kendra organized clay modelling competition, folk art camp, art exhibition. Spring Art Group organized Sand Sculptures Camp at Uttarvehini, Rutt Raare competition, and Rang Fest- Rangoli Competition at Kala Kendra. Amit Slathia, presently active at Delhi, participated in National Artists’ Camp and National Exhibition organized by LKA. T.S. Batra and many artists from State participated in Srijan, a group show by LKA. Renu Bala, sculpture, Ankit Sudan and Subhash Anand, painting, got State awards for Visual Arts,
Photography: Ch. Sundar, Dr. Ashok, Al Nasir, Vijay Gupta and others organized creative photograph exhibitions in Jammu. Dr. Ashok’s three works were selected in digital photography exhibition by Photographic Society of America. JKAACL announced Best Photography Awards to Anand Sharma, 1st, Adnan Ali Zahidani, 2nd, Arshed Hussain, 3rd. Consolation prizes to Syed Hamza, Choudhary Sunder, Surjeet Singh and Tumul Magotra. For 6th Photography Exhibition 2014-15 to Satish Chalotra,1st, Amrit Kaur,2nd, and M Akram Khan,3rd, and consolation prizes to OP Sharma, Pankaj Kumar, and Parveen Kumar.
Cartoonists: Chander Shekhar artist/cartoonist participated in the 100th year of Charlie Chaplin and Maya Kamath cartoon exhibition, organized 3 Day international exhibition on birth anniversary of R.K. Laxman and national exhibition on demonetisation in Jammu. Senior cartoonist Manoj Chopra got 3rd prize in National Cartoon Contest organized by Cartoon Watch and Chhattisgarh State Renewable Energy Development Agency. He got selected as only Indian Cartoonist at VII International Exhibition of Graphic Humor, at Lima, Peru.
Kathak: Priya Dutta, the Kathak guru, recipient of Big Duggar Award, gave solo dance recitals at Zorawar Singh Auditorium, in Cultural Academy’s program at Abhinav Theatre, in Abhivaykti organized by DSW, Jammu University, at Jain Sabha, and at IMFA annual day function.
V. K Sambyal after superannuation as Director, AIR Jammu has galvanized teaching and practice of classical Hindustani music in the winter capital. Music programs organized by him and his students have already raised the bar in terms of composing of Dogri poetry in classical ragas with notations.
Along with recitals by Seema Anil Sehgal, Dogri melodies by Dharmesh Nargotra, Brij Mohan’s compositions, Jammu music scene was kept alive by India Cultural Forum, which led by Sham Sajan organized series of musical programs of songs and ghazals based on the poetry of poets like Sita Ram Sapolia, Deepak Aarsi, N. D. Jamwal, Sunil Sharma. It held literary, a musical festival at Surinsar, Khiraj-e-Ghazal in memory of Vijay Malla and musical evenings at the request of Pritpal Singh Betab, Deepak Aarsi, Vijaya Thakur, Randhir Singh Raipuria.
ICCR Jammu organized programmes like Folk Dances of Sri Lanka, Percussions of Belgium, International Exhibition ‘Maitri’-Collections from India-China Artists Residency, Santoor recital by ‘Bee Seavers of Germany, Celebrating India’s Republic, Narrative Traditions of Dogras, Voice of Punjab by Sonali Dogra, International Dance Day, Jeevan Sharma Live, J&K Cultural show for pilgrims, Meet the Theatre Director’s of Natya Samgama, Dances of Kashmir and Bhaakh Singing by Asha Kesar.
J&K Cultural Academy: Under the stewardship of Secretary Aziz Hazani, the JKAACL, held its General Council meeting after a gap of 35 years. Along with envisaging ambitious plans to revamp J&K cultural scene through regional centres, the Academy in order to encourage state artists/artistes got approval for 50 per cent increase in fee structure across all categories and 100 per cent raise in drama segment, and the production cost too been increased from Rs 15000 to Rs 30000. Academy’s Jammu Divisional office under Additional Secretary Sardar Arvinder Singh Amn successfully met the challenge to timely publish its regular publications in different languages and also organized district drama festival, language conferences, seminars, folk music and dance programs, kahani ghoshtis, poetic symposia, children summer workshops. Along with Jharokha, it also started new series like Sahde Prauhne, Paungar, Smritiaan, and Gharana.
Dogri: 2016, could be rightly called as the year of prose as record number of new prose books, and translation in English from Dogri and works from other languages enriched modern Dogri literature. These include quality translations in English by Suman Sharma: Dogri Short Stories Today’ (Ajjey Di Dogri Kahani), Champa Sharma’s poetry anthology ‘Cheten di Rhol’ as ‘In the Shadow of Memories’. Lalit Magotra’s collection of essays ‘Cheten Diyan Galiyan’ under the title ‘Reflections’ is likely to be out by end of year. Garhi: Mohan Singh’s Dogri Free Verses, was also translated in Hindi by Yash Pal Nirmal.
Sahitya Akademi: With Prof Lalit Magotra, as Convener, Dogri Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, organized Manipuri-Dogri Translation Workshop on Short Stories, at Imphal (Manipur), in which six Translators: Prakash Premi, Jagdeep Dubey, Surjit Hosh, Chanchal Bhasin, Promila Manhas and Ptratyush Guleri and Prof. Lalit Mangotra participated. It held Dogri poets’ meet in collaboration with Kunwar Viyogi Trust, Jammu, the workshop on story writing with JKAACL, a seminar on Dogri Folk Literature, in collaboration with Dogri PG Dept., JU. Translations undertaken by Sahitya Akademi are Dehra Ch Ajj bi Ugde N Sadhe Buhte: Ruskin Bond’s English Story-Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, translated by Nirmal Vinod, Bhaayu Ch Daskhat: Kailash Bajpeyi’s poetry collection translated by Padma Sachdev, Ik Chhitt Channan Di: Kartar Singh Duggal’s Punjabi Story Collection, translated by Shashi Pathania, Banbhat di Aatamkatth: Hazari Prasad Dwivedi’s Hindi novel, translated by Om Goswami, Kohre Ch Qaid Rang: Govind Mishr’s Hindi Novel, translated by Usha Vyas, Krshan Samailpuri Rachna Sanchayan Ed. N. D. Jamwal, Romal Singh Bhadwal (Dogri Vinibhand) by Archana Kesar.
Dogri Sanstha released books like Cheta-Chhtrapal’s short story collection, Shakunt Deepmala’s Sukhan, Rajeshwar Sing Raju’s Addh-Majhaatay, Raj Rahi’s Bounsari Di Taan, Santosh Sangra’s Antakarn Di Qaid, Narindra Bhasin’s Aasen Da Chann, Ritu Kumar Sharma’s Je Tus Buraa nei Mangay, Novels, Dr Bhavneet Kaur’s (PIX) English novel Spirit of Cheron (first English fiction released by Sanstha in recent years), Shiv Mehta’s (PIX) historical novel Peediyen Di Peed, and poetry Books of Gianeshwar’s Aaya Geeten Da Banjara, Sushil Beganna’s Maun Lakeeran, Col Raaz Manawari’s Pryaas, and Lalit Magotra’s literary essays Meri Choch Mere Shabd.
Duggar Manch: Under the leadership of Mohan Singh, Dogri poet, playwright, actor, and activist, Duggar Manch organized seminars, literary meets, book release functions and felicitations programs to honor of poets, writers and classical and folk singers.
Nami Dogri Sanstha: released books: Shambu Ram’s Chetayen Di Bushkadi, Rakesh SharmaTript’s Meri Ghalaan Mere Geet, organized meets of poets, short story writers, folk music concerts, seminars, and held programs in memory of writers and artistes. Rajinder Kumar Ranjha’s Dogri book, Tere Hirkhe Ch, was released Dogri Bhasha Academy.
Urdu: Anand Lehar, got State Best Book Award for his novel Naamdev. Prof Shohab Mallik and Post-Graduate Department of Urdu, JU, organized seminars and literary meets with national level and local Urdu writers, poets, and scholars. Balraj Bakshi’s book Eik Boond Zindagi awarded by U.P. and Bihar Urdu Academies, has been nominated for Sahitya Academy Award 2016. Writers Forum released Pritpal Singh Betab’s Falak Aasaar, a collection of 80 gazals and 130 nazms and
Hindi: New Hindi poetry books published are Maharaj Krishan Santoshi’s Atama Ki Nigrani, Krishan Gupta’s Shradha Ke Phool, and Sunil Magotra’s Kuchkra, novel, Baat Bole Gi, stories, Baljit Singh Raina’s Halla Gaadi (short stories) and Panchnaat (plays). J&K Rashtriya Bhasha Prachar Simiti: released books: Kiran Kanchan’s Sucche Moti, Shashi Padha’s Shourya Gatha, Savita Bakshi’s Adi Granth Mein Sangeet Savita, Bhushan Gupta’s Tulsi Meri Mohmeyi Mamta, and Krishna Gupta’s Shradha Ke Phool. Yuva Hindi Lekhak Sangh remained active in promotion of contemporary Hindi literature. It released Kunwar Shakti Singh’s poetry book Shehar Jab So Jata Hai. Sarthi Kala Kendra released Dr. Varun Suthra’s book Purane Rishte Naye Ehsas.
Punjabi: Khalid Hussain, Punjab Sahitya Shiromani Award recipient, released his book Soolaan Da Salan. JKAACL’s Punjabi Sheeraja special number on his life and works was released. He attended International Conference, Lahore, Progressive Writers Conference, Goa. Baljit Singh Raina participated in conferences of Bhartiya Sahitya Akademi, Delhi, Abhivyakti, Imphal, Manipur. Punjabi Lekhak Sabha, held literary meet with Dr Atamjit Singh, ghoshtis and released books by Dr. Monojit, Surinder Kaur Neer, Hardeep Singh Deep, Hardeep Kaur Deepak, Pritpal Kaur Chal, Resham Kaur and Devinder Vishavnagrik.
Pahari: Poets Gursharan Singh (Swami Antar Neerav), Gulshan, Qari Ashraf Buddhal, Sheikh Zahoor, Parvez Malik, penned down excellent poetry. Pahari language was enriched by publications of Pahari section of Cultural Academy, holding of seminars, literary, cultural program, mushaira, afsana readings, music programs, drama show in Rajouri and Poonch. Kumar Saurav launched Pahari website Changair and Delhi University undertook doctorate research on modern Pahari literature.
Gojri: Cultural Academy’s Gojri section published a number of Gojari books, journals, and translations in Gojri. It held Gojari conference, mushairas, story sessions and folk music programs. Tribal Research Foundation led by Javed Rahi enriched the cultural sphere of Gojari by holding of three -day National level painting camp on ‘Tribal Life and Culture of J&K and staging of Gojari play Kafillo.
INTACH Jammu Chapter: With Srishti Sawhney, its convenor, organized Clean Monument Campaign Camps at Samba Fort, Mubarak Mandi, Bahu fort, Bambochak temple, Chamblayal, teachers training workshop on setting up of heritage clubs, Heritage Walks for students, listing of Jammu’s built heritage, water bodies, manuscripts & coins exhibition, rural heritage workshop, conservation of Panjbakhtar Temple wall paintings.
Natural Heritage O. P. Sharma Vidyarathi’s crusade to raise public awareness about natural heritage especially flora and fauna through unique Tree Talk Campaign completed 6 years long journey in Dec 2016 with 470th Tree Talk.