Jammu Cultural Calender-2013

Lalit Gupta
In a welcome scenario of continuing peace in Jammu and Kashmir-barring the ugly incident of Kishtawar carnage, a blot on age-old old tradition of the communal harmony and brotherhood in our State-the year 2013 was quite eventful in terms of activities in myriad fields that have come to define the burgeoning sphere of culture today.
While novel artistic and cultural expressions seemingly articulating the emerging psycho-social make-up and aesthetic yearning of new generation caught up in consumerist grind of our times, the traditional cultural forms like folk music, poetry, dances as marker of ethnic identity remained the highlights of this year’s cultural profile. In the backdrop of official tokenism of pre-determined and hackneyed events, Zubin Mehta’s concert at Srinagar-held despite protests by hardliners-was certainly a mega international event that drew world’s attention to J&K.
But overall it were again the creative endeavors of writers, poets, painters, sculptors, film makers, actors, dancers, musicians et al, especially the young brigade who made mark in areas of films, television, reality shows, visual, performing and literary arts.
Before talking about achievers of this year let us remember all those who due to their creative contributions will always shine as stars of our modern time. One such legendary artiste is Malika Pukhraj, whose birth centenary falls this year. Her songs in Dogri continue to regale for their earthly melody. As a symbol of shared legacy of the sub-continent, she would remain an icon in Jammu and missed in Lahore. Hemant Rao Sathe,  Dogri activist who passed away will be remembered for his catalytic role Dogri recognition movement. The demise of O P Gupta, noted Hindi writer has also left a void in Jammu’s literary scene.
AWARDS/HONOURS: The year brought laurels to Jammu with announcement of Padmashree awards to well known sculptor Rajendra Tiku and  Balwant Thakur, an eminent  theater personality. In field of literature many Jammuites also shared national honours. These include Yogita Yadav, young writer who became first women from State to bag prestigious Yuva Gyanpeeth Award. Sat Pal Sapolia got national recognition when his book of Dogri poetry was selected for Sahitya Akademi award while Dheeraj Kesar, young Dogri poet got Sahitya Akademi’s Yuva Lekhak Puruskaar. Krishan Sharma, Dogri writer was honoured with Bal Lekhan Puruskar.
Central Hindi Directorate, Ministry of Human Resource Development, conferred awards on three Jammu writers for their contribution to Hindi. These include Aruna Sharma, Prof Sat pal Srivatsya and Pritpal Singh Betab. J&K Cultural Academy’s best book awards were bagged by N D Jamwal for Dogri book Trifala, in Hindi to Shiv Nirmohi for Kishtwar -Sanskriti aur Parampara, in Punjabi to Jammu Kashmir De Punjabi Geetan Vich Samkaleen Samaj Di Jhalak by Dr Sushil Sharma, in Kashmiri to Makhan Lal Kanwal, and in Urdu to Mohammad Amin Lala.
Film maker Amit Dutta and noted sculptor Ravinder Jamwal were honored with Duggar Rattan awards. Dr Liaqat Jafari, Urdu poet from Poonch, got Bolywood recognition as lyricist in Ram Gopal Varma’s critically acclaimed film ‘The Attacks of 26/11.
TALENT HUNT SHOWS: YOUNG ACHIEVERS FROM JAMMU : Many young persons from Jammu have also made their name in dance and music shows being hosted on TV channels. Anmol Jaswal, was runner up in Indian Idol Junior contest. Other exceptionally gifted young persons are Shubdeep Singh, youngest music director, Sonali Dogra, runner up Voice of Punjab music contest, Satinder Shanu, a participant in Chota Ustad-Do Deshon Ki Eik Kahani, music contest, Rabjot Singh, declared as runner and winner in the senior male category.in Choona Hain Aasman while Jagan Jot Singh, was winner in junior category of Choona Hai Aasman and  Anjusha Sharma and runner up in Awaz Punjab Di,
TELEVISION:  Quite a few actors from Jammu are regularly finding acting assignments in number of films and TV serials. Anjali Abrol, who acted in Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat TV series has featured as character actor in movie ‘Singh Saab The Great’. Shaheer Sheikh, currently seen in Star Plus serial Mahabharat as Arjuna, hails from Bhadawah. Priya Raina who earned fame by making her mark in TV reality shows, is now appearing in many popular TV serials.
FILMS: The emerging trend which saw three Dogri films being released in consecutive years, has witnessed a hiatus. Release of much talked about Dogri film ‘Geetiyaan’ has been pushed to January 2014. Directed by Rahul Sharma, the film boasts of many well known Bolywood actors like Yashpal Sharma of Lagaan’, fame and others who had come to Jammu to shoot for their roles.
Another film maker Rahat Kazami, native of Surankot, presently based in Mumbai, was in Jammu to shoot his latest film ‘Sarkari Joota’ that features actors like Raghuvir Yadav, Varinder Saxsena, Dolly Aluwalia, Manini Dey etc.
THEATRE: Theatre festivals organized by NZZC and J&K Cultural Academy provided much needed platform for outside and local drama groups to exhibit their standards of drama practice and socio-cultural concerns in selection of scripts.
Natrang, which under leadership of Balwant Thakur, has become synonymous with theatre scene of Jammu, continued to hog the limelight for regular and broad spectrum of activities. Other than staging Dogri play Baba Jitto, Natrang held hundreds of performances in different parts of the state and country and participated in all major theatre festivals. Samooh Theatre, with Dr Sudhir Mahajan as creative director along with young director Ravinder Sharma, staged Dogri translation of well known plays like Abhigayan Shakuntalam and Rajneesh Gupta’s Chitta Singh dramatic presentation of poems written by poets of J&K,  Khol Do at Mumbai and Ek Dhoop Safed Si at Delhi. Focusing on contemporary issues Shivani Cultural Society with Vikram Sharma as its creative director and actors including Neha, Himanshu Darshan, Aditya Bhanu, staged plays like ‘Main Damini Bol Raih Hoon’ based on Delhi gang rape and Sarbjeet Calling on life of Sarbjeet Singh. Another local active theatre group which through its productions showcased Jammu theatre scene to other part of the country, ‘Amateur Theatre Group’, once again got national recognition with staging of Mushtaq Kak directed ‘Democracy in Heaven in Winter Theatre Festival organized by Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts.  Under the banner of ‘Rangyug’ the NSD alumani Rakesh Singh staged Tagore’s play Muktadhara, based on Deepak Kumar’s Dogri translation of the play. Other theatre groups Nav Durga Kala  Manch and Natraj Natya Kunj  kept their calendar ticking by sporadic productions, Pancham group staged a docu-drama, Hirkh-Saiful Malook. Ek Saath Rangmanch under Vijay Malla’s direction went on a spree of more than 62 nukkad show for various schools. Lucky Gupta, the maverick Jammu actor, performed more than hundred solo shows of ‘Maa Mujhe Tagore Bana De’ in different parts of the state and outside. There also has been an emerging trend of staging Kashmir plays in Jammu including Moti Lal  Kemmu’ Nagar Udas -A play from Kashmir History.
VISUAL ARTS:  Although Jammu boasts of two senior most artists in residence; Triloke Kaul and Gokul Dembi, the visual art scenario here has turned rather dismal due to the languishing state of affairs at Institutes of Music and Fine Arts.
On personal front many Jammu artists participated in various national and international camps, workshops and received honours and awards. Rajendra Tiku was invited as visiting professor by Musashino Art University, Tokyo, Japan. Sonu Aagrwal and Chander Prakash, the sculptor couple participated in National Stone Sculpture Camp, Rohtak  and International stone sculpture camp in Odisha. Chander Prakash also attended International sculpture symposia in Germany and France. Ravinder Jamwal, apart from his five creative installations at different spots in Jammu also executed bronze statues of Dhanvantri at Trikuta Nagar park, Shushil Khajuria at Supwal, Maharaja Hari Singh near Veer Bhumi at Samba. Bishembar Mehta’s recently opened Raku Studio in Gandhi Nagar has emerged as an address for Studio Pottery in the winter capital. Rohit Verma participated in UGC sponsored National Art Workshop at Batala. Vikas Khajuria, freelance sculptor, organized a terracotta camp and later curated the exhibition of works at Kala Kendra. The camp was held by Vihaan Art Foundation which also organized ‘Small Sculpture Camp at Jammu and a camp at Sansasar. Vikas Sharma, along with Arvind Gupta, Sukhjeet Kukkal, Bishembar Mehta, Kumud, Jyotsna Singh, Vikas Dogra, Naresh, Jasleen, Singh, Anish Tikku, participated in Terracotta Camp held at Srinagar. The artists in All India Painters Camp held at Kargil included Milan Sharma, Gokul Dembi, Jang Varman, Suman Gupta, M. A. Mehboob, M K Bhat and Nasreen. Freelance women painter Reecha Gupta held solo painting show. Suman Gupta after his show titled ‘Stones, Bullets and Lilies at Amar Mahal Museum and Library also exhibited the exclusive series during month long show at Gallery Nvya in New Delhi. Dr Raj Kumar also held solo show of his paintings. Five-day Basohli Miniature Painting Camp at Mubarak Mandi was held to encourage practitioner of this traditional art form. ‘New perceptions, New images’, a show by young artists was held at Kala Kendra. R P Singh held solo show of creative paintings. Cultural Academy held Young Women Artist Workshop conducted by freelance painter Sunanda Khajuria,Delhi while Aditi Gupta, JNU scholar gave a talk on Feminism in Contemporary Indian Art. Ten young women participants of workshop were Shakti Kumari, Anuradha, Sarish, Renu Bala, Jatinder Kaur. Massarat Mehboob, Shahana Parveen, Nusrat Zahoor Shah. K K Gandhi, a self taught painter, organized artist camps, group shows on behalf of different organizations.
CULTURAL SPACES/INSTITUTIONS: Designated spaces with proper infrastructure certainly act as catalysts for the continuing practice of different cultural expressions in a given society. Unfortunately even after 60 years of independence, state’s major cities and towns woefully lack such facilities. What adds insult to injury is that the two prestigious auditoria like Abhinav Theatre and Tagore Hall are closed since years due to the sluggish speed of renovations and non-professional approach by executing agencies. The case of Abhinav Theatre where the expert committee rejected the chairs installed by PWD engineers-the self acclaimed experts who never bothered to consult a theatre expert like JKPCC for Tagore hall in Srinagar-speaks lot about the executing agency’s sincerity in providing a quality cultural space to Jammuites.
KALA KENDRA, is a live example of criminal neglect of a prime space caused by government dragging its feet for years in formalizing formation of autonomous Kala Kendra Society to run this exclusive centre dedicated to promotion of contemporary arts in the state.
MUBARAK MANDI: notwithstanding the state’s lackluster attitude towards its conservation, this symbol of State’s collective heritage came to limelight as one of the venues of the five-day Jammu festival held from Dec 25 to Dec 30th, 2013. The cultural bonanza comprising of performances of  local celebrities like Anmol Jaswal, Tania Gupta, and Lakhvinder Wadali etc along with tastefully illuminated royal palaces offered a unique attraction for the visitors. This Jammu festival was made possible due to the efforts of Saujnya Kumar, Director Tourism.
INSTITUTE OF MUSIC AND FINE ARTS (IMFA): the premier academic institute after its takeover by Jammu University has fallen on hard times. Dislocated form its 30 years old premises Poonch House on the plea of the renovation of historic building, IMFA, is presently made to operate from pitiable accommodations of B. Ed hostels. The lackluster approach of Jammu University to give due place to visual arts in higher education despite University Council’s decision to make IMFA as integral part of proposed School of Visual and Performing Arts, Design and Architecture, speaks a lot about the arbitrary working of University authorities.
DOORDARSHAN KENDRA JAMMU (DDJ):  With Anajli Sharma, the daughter of soil, joining as incharge of DDJ, it is expected that like her previous place of posting at AIR, Jammu where she initiated historic step of all announcements to be made in Dogri, DDJ would also turn more regional centric in its future programs. In 2013, DDJ organized interactive programs like ‘Mehfil’ with poets like Khalid Bashir, Vidya Rattan Aasi, Padma Sachdev, Mohan Singh, Tilak Chand Tilak, Seema Anil,Sehgal and Sakhawat Khan, Under its ‘Adbi Safar Series’, a program on Yash Sharma was held while works of Bandhu Sharma came under focus in ‘Sari Adbi Virasat’. It attracted young talent by organizing 28 episodes of talent hunt show ‘Aao Pehchan Banayein’. Its novel program, Jammu at 7.30, featuring a senior journalist has earned lot of appreciation from viewers.
CULTURAL ACADEMY: J&K Cultural Academy, under the stewardship of Khalid Bashir, has witnessed streamlining of its activities. Activation of hitherto defunct advisory sub-committees after a long gap has ensured vigorous participation of writers, artists and performers of the State in Academy’s programs and policies. Academy’s activity calendar for 2013 included some novel initiatives such as approval of Artists & Writers’ Welfare Fund under which  Government agreed to provide Rs. 50 lakh as corpus fund, instituting of Best Translation Awards; completion of Digitization of manuscripts, paintings, miniatures, calligraphy specimen, photographs, concept of heritage exhibitions launched, holding of first ever J&K Women Artist Workshop in Jammu. Other highlights include the publication of Safaqat, 12-page multi-colour newsletter exclusively dedicated to cultural and literary activities, organizing Language Conferences in Dogri, Panjabi, Pahari, Gojri and Hindi,  All India Urdu Mushaira at Jammu, State Level Urdu Mushaira at Kishtwar and All Jammu Urdu Mushaira at Udhampur. In sphere of art and culture, Academy held programmes at Jammu like 3-day Jammu Music Festival, Dances of Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh, 2nd Film Competition & Film Festival, Best Book Award, Seminar on 100 years of Hindi Cinema, Basohli Miniature Painting Camp, State Photography Exhibition, State Art Exhibition and giving away of State Art and Best Photography Awards. Besides the above, literary and cultural programmes were also held across the State at different venues in far flung areas of Jammu division. Other than regular numbers of literary magazine ‘Sheeraja’, in nine languages, Academy’s publication program included special numbers in all these languages.
DOGRI SANSTHA: This year’s activities of Dogri Sanstha reflected the forward looking policies of its president Prof Lalit Magotra and his team of office bearers including Prof Veena Gupta and Prof Shashi Pathania. Sanstha actively took up the case of creating desirable infrastructure to conduct  Dogri language classes in schools. It also collaborated with Sahitya Akedami, New Delhi, CIIL, Mysore. With help of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, (SMVDB) Sanstha is working to create a Dogri website. The collaborative venture with SMVDB has also resulted in publication of children comics books in Dogri on format of Amar Chitra Katha Publications and also a high quality English translations of Dogri short stories by Suman Sharma.
Dogri books released on platform of Sanstha include Pitamber Nath Sharma’s novel ‘Bhagali’, collection of poems ‘Choori’ by Khajur Singh Thakur, Rattan Doshi’s ‘Kasai Bara’, is a collection of plays, Balwan Singh Jamohria’s ‘Soach Apni Apni, and Pradyuman Singh Jindrahia’s Kal Sarha, Tara Daanpuri’s short stories, ‘Bhav Sagar’ short story book ‘Banna’ by Shiv Mehta and  ‘Char Dishan Char Dham’ a travelogue by Narinder Bhasin.
Sanstha also held Dogri Kavi Sammelans, at Sunderrbani, Paloura, in collaboration with Duggar Kala Manch, Sunderbani and ‘SATHI’ and organized ‘gazal snadhyas’ where lyrics of poets like Vijaya Thakur, Deepak Aarsi, Shesheel Baigana, Khajur Singh, composed by music directors like Sham Sajan and Brij Mohan were sung by Kumari Krishna, Sargam Pant, Apoorva Jamwal, Vivek Mohan, Manju Bala Neelam Langeh, Subhash Langeh, Nirbhay Slathia and Rakesh Slathia and young talented singers Sonali Dogra, Bharat Kumar and Rakesh Deol and Sham Saajan.
SAHITYA  AKADEMI:  released of 22 of its new Dogri publications which included Om Goswami’s ‘Azadi Praint Di Dogri Kavita’, Prakash Premi’s translation of N Gopi’s poetry, ‘Samey Gi Nain Soun Daing’, Dogri Geet and Dogri Ekanki by Inder Jeet Kesar, Usha Vyas’s translation of Bhisham Sahni’s anthology of Hindi short stories, Vijya Thakur’s translation of Arun Kamal’s Hindi poetry, Gyan Singh’s anthology of 36 Dogri women short story writers and Cchatrpal’s ‘Kinne Pakistan’, translation of Kamelshwar’s acclaimed novel ‘Kitne Pakistan’.
National Akedami under its programme ‘Mulakat’ provided opportunity to young Dogri writers and poets to share their works with invited audience. The writers were Rajeshwar ‘Raju’, Sunita Bhadwal and poets Deepak Arsi, Joginder Kumar and Kewal Kumar ‘Kewal’. Prof Desh Bandhu Nutan Dogra shared his life experiences in ‘Meet-the-Author’, while in ‘Naari Chetana ‘ Prof. Veena Gupta presented a paper on ‘Women Writing in Dogri’ and the participating poets included Santosh Khajuria, Shashi Pathania, Vijaya Thakur, Usha Kiran and  Shakuntla Beerpuri. While in ‘Kavi-Sandhi’ renowned and Sahitya Akademi Awardee poet Gianeshwar read his poetry and shared his ideas with the audience. Akademi also organized a program on Urdu poetry under its ‘Sheri Nashisht’ series, a special Children Literature Programme and a workshop on Translation of Bengali short stories into Dogri. The Dogri translators were Chhatrapal, Pritam Katoch, Narender Bhasin, Darshan Darshi, Krishna Prem Chanchal Bhasin. Suneela Sharma  Raj Rahi  Yogesh Sharma, Sudhir Jamwal,  Shiv Dev Susheel, Surjit Hosh, Vijaya Thakur, Nirmal Vikram and Vijay Verma.
While literary and cultural NGOs in different district head quarters and towns continue to work on low key, Jammu based NGOs like Nami Dogri Sanstha held number of activities including felicitation functions for writers, release of new publications etc. Writer’s Forum also organized quality programs that included short story reading sessions and mushairas. The literary scene in languages like Punjabi was marked by release of Punjabi writer Khalid Hussain’s autobiography titled ‘Matti Uddam Krendi Yaar’. Written both in Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi scripts, it was also recently released at an international Punjabi seminar  in Lahore. While Gojari got enriched by Cultural Academy’s plethora of publications, the first ever film in Gojari, Malli Gujari, was screened this year before a full house. Literature in Pahari language saw addition of many books by local short story writers, poets and translations of well known works of other languages. Pahari poetry with efforts of Swami Antar Neerav was well received in academic circles of Punjab. In Urdu, Dogri writer Padamshree Jatinder Udhampuri is all set to release his Urdu poetry book. Post-Graduate Department of Urdu, Jammu University like past years, remained most active in organizing various local and national level programs, seminar etc. Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Wani’s latest book in Urdu ‘Feminism in Urdu Literature’, is significant work about feminist writing in Urdu literature by a writer from J&K.
Hindi literature was enriched by Kshma Kaul’s novel ‘Nikki Tawi’, Sanjeev Bhasin’s collection of poems, K K Shakir’s ‘Jammu Ke Pracheen Mandir’ and Shiv Nirmohi’s books in Hindi. Kashmiri also saw lot of new works hitting the stands including Makhan Lal Saraf’s  book of three plays. In Dogri  Shailnedra Singh’s maiden Dogri novel ‘Hashiye Par’ was picked up for translation into English by Oxford University Press. Other publications in Dogri were Tara Danpuri’s ‘Lahue da Rang’, Oh Hoon Abla Naien’ by Usha Kiran ‘Kiran’, ‘Unbidde Moti’ by Rattan Bhardwaj, ‘Dogri Ram Lila’ by Hira Lal Verma, Shabad Shabad Smarth by Puran Chand Badgotra and Chanchal Bhasin’s book “Dogri Upnyaasen Ch Varg Sangharsh” i.e Class struggle in Dogri novels. Khushdev Maini, also published a book on Pir Lar. Dr Sunil Khosa’s Art History of J&K was also a significant addition on the subject.
ICCR under its Horizon series has emerged as alternate platform for showcasing international program as well as local talent in many field of culture. This year its plethora of programs included Jammu Rock Show, musical tributes to Vijay Malla, first ever International Jazz Band Concert, program on Jammu Urdu poets and a scintillating Kathak Recital by Priya Dutta and Group.
ARCHAEOLOGY AND TANGIBLE HERITAGE: With K C Nauriyal taking over as Superintending Archaeologist of Jammu based Srinagar Circle of Archaeological Survey of India, the scientific investigations into J&K history and past culture are likely to get an impetus. Nauriyal, a professional archaeologist is all enthused to undertake the conservation of Mubarak Mandi complex. He is also going to oversee the proposed archaeological excavations at Tibba Taliaan, R. S. Pura.
NUMISMATICS: In view of dearth of new generation local scholars in the fields of numismatics (study of old coins) and epigraphy (study of ancient scripts), Sonia Jasrotia, is one such specialist who after getting training in numismatics from British Museum, London has completed work on ancient Kashmir Coins of three Museums-National Museum New Delhi, Shri Bhuri Singh Museum Chamba and Shri Pratap Museum Srinagar. She represented J&K in World Archaeological Congress held at (Jordan) Amaan, and presented paper on Locating Buddhist Monuments of Kashmir: Recently Discovered Monuments of Gateway of Kashmir Valley”.