25 years of Samooh theatre

Rajeshwar Singh ‘Raju’
If we cast a look at the theatre groups of temple city, then undoubtedly there are only a few that are engaged in regular theatre activities and rest of all mushroom only during the Annual Drama Festivals organized by Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. After the festival is over, they again go into ‘Kumbkarni’ sleep just to wake up again only during next Drama Festival. ‘Kumbkaran’, the brother of Ravana of world famous epic Ramayana used to take sound sleep for six months but our so called theatre groups take even longer sleep for one year.

Dr Sudhir Mahajan

However, those who have been working with a mission don’t wait for official bell and go on performing at regular intervals thus keeping torch of theatre movement burning. One of these theatre Groups is ‘SAMOOH THEATRE’ that celebrated its silver Jubilee of its foundation recently. These 25 years have a lot in the womb that has raised higher standards for a group that was established in the year 1993 by the likeminded people from the different walks of life including social, education and cultural field.
In a conversation Dr. Sudhir Mahajan, a state and National awardee senior fellowship holder in theatre from Ministry of Culture, New Delhi, Government of India, a noted Radio, theatre, TV artist, writer, yoga and meditation practitioner, the founder member of the group says, “The group was registered as a society in the year 1994 under Registrar Society Act J &K Govt. with the aim to impart education, values ,strengthen social and cultural heritage of India among the children and youth of J & K and India through literature , yoga and performing arts besides sensitizing masses with special focus on underprivileged ,tribals and oppressed class of the society.”
The group is engaged in regular theatre activities not only at regional level but at national theatre scene also with more than 100 hundred Indian and western plays to its credit. The major productions include Sayian Bhaye Kotwal, Urubhangam, Raja Nanga, Anna Yug, Andher Nagari, Mahabrahaman, Ek aur Oedipus, Dak Ghar, Bawa Jittmal, Final Solution, Antigone Bobby, Hamlet, Kaliveer, Marnoprant, Tempest, King Lear, Poos Ki Raat, Ek Dhoop Safed Si, Begam Akhtar, Kafan, What is this, Girgit, Bechara Vinod, Shehar Hamara Hai, Girgit, Ded Inch Uppar, Prashan Chinah, Bobby, Ajiab Ghar, Maa Mujhe Tagore Bana Do, Abhigyan Shakuntalam etc. that have been critically acclaimed. The list is long one. With every performance the group has left an impression on the theatre lovers.
It needs to be mentioned here that group has not been only performing plays but also contributing in other related fields too. Dr. Sudhir says, “Samooh Theatre has organized more than 90 children theatre-in-education workshops, children theatre festivals, folk lore festivals, seminars, conferences, yoga, meditation and various awareness camps for the empowerment of girls and women.”
At the same time the Group has intensively worked for over all personality development of the children and the youth with aim to make them aware of their potential and explore that for the welfare of society and nation. It has also the credit of collaborating with the Ministry of Culture New Delhi, Ministry of HRD, Department of secondary and higher education, North Zone Culture Centre Pataila, JKAACL, Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi for various cultural events. Over the years it has emerged more than merely a theatre group and is relentlessly holding awareness camps, Medical camps, Yoga classes and art workshops with the collaboration of Deptt. Of Horticulture J&K, Ministry of textile Govt. of India, Deptt. of Health and Consumer affairs.
Society has also established an independent women wing and presently has its three centers in two districts of the J&K state that provide technical training and education to the girls and women besides free tuition to the under- privilege children in the shape of Bal Sanskar Vidhyala under Anita Chand puri, a noted Socio-Cultural activist of the state. The society has been bestowed with the awards from Government and Non Government organizations for its yeomen services rendered for the welfare of masses.
It’s a fact that theatre has a mission and it should be realized by all theatre groups. Theatre doesn’t mean to perform only but a vital point has to be kept in mind, perform for what? Naturally, it has to touch the nerves of theatre goers and even the performers get an opportunity to realize what the theatre teaches them and how they may explore the opportunity to teach others and guide society towards better future. After all every effort has a mission behind it and so has theatre,
25 years of existence is not only a celebration for having passed silver jubilee but it’s an opportunity to introspect for what needs to be done in coming years. Watching keen interest of those associated with society and regular activities raise hopes that Samooh will go on adding more and more feathers to its cap in future too.
Theatre lovers had the opportunity to watch colossal performances under the direction of Dr. Sudhir Mahajan in the past and now-a-days the audience gets captivated with the plays performed under the direction of young and talented Theatre Director of Samooh Theatre_ Ravinder Sharma.
The group has dedicated and devoted team who take theatre as a passion. With noted veteran journalist Sohail Kazmi as patron and executive body comprising of Sudhir Mahajan as founder, Kamal Sharma as president, Satish Kumar as advisor, Kiran Mahajan as General Secretary, Daya Ram as production controller, Ravinder Sharma as organizer and Director, Anita Chandpuri as Secretary and Janak Raj as treasurer, Samooh Theatre is all set to continue its endeavors for which it has attained name and fame. It’s appreciable that the group believes in rendering services and exploring all possible means to reach to needy so as to help the society. Such an approach fulfills the basic concept of Theatre in Education.
Continuous activities for 25 years are not an easy task. It demands devotion and sacrifices which happens only if one has honest and dedicated team. Luckily Samooh is blessed with same. We may expect that it will go on offering captivating theatre performances, meaningful street plays, thought provoking seminars, inspiring medical camps and all possible help to girls and women folks as a continuity to its basic principles in the coming years too.