In a scenario where J&K Department of Culture still dragging its feet in announcing
the much touted cultural policy, State & Central Universities yet to give due status
to creative fields of performing and Visual arts, dead museums, orphaned Kala Kendra,
nil infrastructure in districts and tehsil headquarters, the course of the artistic and
cultural activities for year 2017, was charted for the most part by creative individuals
and few NGOs devoted to the practice and promotion of different traditional
as well as contemporary cultural expressions, writes Lalit Gupta
Awards and Honours
In the wake of almost negligible appreciation by immediate communities and civil society, the national, state awards and honours are the only encouragement for the handful community of writers, artists and other creative individuals in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shiv Mehta the Dogri writer was bestowed national award for literature, the Sahitya Akademi Award for his anthology of Dogri short stories tiled ‘Banna’. Sahitya Akademi’s Bal Sahitya Puraskar went to Sudesh Raj, for her short stories book Jangal di Sair. Rajinder Rahnja, got Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for of poetry book Tere Hirkhe Ch. Sahitya Akademi Translation Award in Dogri was bagged by Yash Raina, for his translation of Gujarati novel Angliyat. Hinditar Bhashi Hindi Lekhak Puraskar by the Directorate of Hindi, Government of India New Delhi was conferred on Neeru Sharma, for her Hindi short story Book Pagnandi and Satish Vimal, for his poetry book Kaal Surya. Vikrant Sharma, young and dynamic actor got National Bismillah Khan Yuva Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the field of Acting. Prof Ram Nath Shastri Smriti Puruskar was conferred on Dogri poet Susheel Begana, for his first book of poems ‘Maun Lakeeran’. Second Kunwar Viyogi Sahitya Puruskar was bagged by Saroj Bala , for her poetry collection. Instituted this year only, the first Dinu Bhai Pant Life Time Achievement Award was presented to Dogri’s poet and writer Padama Sachdev. Dogri and Hindi writer, Chhatrapal, was honoured with Sauhard Puraskar, by Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan, Lucknow. Yashpaul Nirmal, was awarded Rashtriya Anuvad Sahitya Gaurav Samman 2017 by Nirmala Smriti Samiti, Haryana and Bhartiya Anuvad Parishad, New Delhi for Hindi Translation of Mohan Singh’s Dogri long poem, Liaqat Jafri, famous Urdu poet of J&K, was awarded Shaheed Lala Jagat Narayan Award 2017 for his services to Urdu Literature. State Awards: Balraj Bakshi, Urdu writer and poet from Udhampur was honored with State Award for his contribution in Urdu language and literature.

Amit Dutta son of the soil and hailed as significant contemporary practitioners of experimental cinema in the world, was honored with three retrospectives of his films at Cinematic Museum, Berkeley Museum and Pacific Film Archives, University of California, at Lugano Arte e Cultura, Lugano, Switzerland, and by Bombay Art Society. He published two books: ‘Invisible Webs’, IIAS Shimla, and ‘Many Questions to Myself’ – Diary of an Indian Film Student, Raza Foundation/Rajkamal Prakashan, translated from English to Hindi by Geet Chaturvedi as Khud se kai swaal. He was selected to play in the All India Correspondence Chess Championship and won Silver in 2017 as the First-runner up. Rahat Qazmi, filmmaker from Surankot, working in Mumbai, did complete shooting for his new ventures but no film of his was released this year.
Notwithstanding enthusiastic public response to local films produced in last five years by Jollywood (Jammu film industry), no new films hit the screen in 2017. Only satisfaction was good appreciation of Dogri film Geetiyan in national film festival at Kolkotta. Short film genre is attracting many amateur filmmakers in Jammu. Sandeep Verma’s short film premiered at KC Cineplex earned accolades and is getting ‘likes’ on YouTube.
Satellite channels
Jammu’s young talented actors, dancers, models, who have made mark in TV serials, talent hunt shows, beauty pageants are Bhanu Udhay, a NSD graduate, is essaying role of Viajy Namdhari in ‘Saam Dhaam Dand Bhed’. Aman Khullar, as police officer in serial Yah Hain Mohabtein and Star Bahrat serial JiJi Maa. Ajay Pal Singh Andotra, stage, film and TV actor is in lime light by bagging mega advertisement campaigns like Swachha Bharat and sharing screen with Amitabh Bachchan among others. Tarun Vasson, an actor/model from Rajouri, is acting in number of TV serials. Payush Bhagat, young dance sensation turned choreographer made his mark in TV show Dance+ Season 2 on Star Plus through his unique dance form called Getto in hip hop. Ankit Sharma made to the finals of India’s most coveted male pageant Mr. India 2017. Sana Dua was declared 1st runner-up in fbb Femina Miss India World 2017. Bhasha Sumbli, NSD graduate actor, performed as Acting Guru in Sony Tv’s popular kids acting reality show ‘Sabse Bada Kalakar’. She and her contestant kid were the grand finalists of the show. Tata Sky has roped in her as Acting Coach for their channel ‘Acting Adda’ (ch. no. 111). She ended the year by performing ancient ‘Kudiyattam’ form in Jammu, which she’d learnt under Inlaks Theatre Award/Fellowship, in Kerala, under her world renowned Guru G. Venu. She with her Kudiyattam performance became the first one to bring this ancient form of acting on Jammu soil.
J&K Cultural Academy
With Ajiz Hajani as its secretary, earned the distinction of holding first ever multilingual literary conference at Jammu and New Delhi, which brought together more than 200 writers of all languages from three regions of the state. Other activities were state writer’s camp, artist’s camp, annual art exhibitions, poetic symposia etc. Academy’s Jammu Division office, with Arvinder Amn as additional secretary, extended area of activities by holding on-the-Spot Children’s music and painting competitions at Udhampur, Resi, Samba, Kathua districts along with Jammu. It held programs during melas at Shankri Devta, Sujandhar, Gandh top, Suankha, Chambliyal, Shivkhori and Basohli. Dogri Literary Seminars were held at Bani, Kathua, Ramnagar, Udhampur, Reasi and Samba. Its annual activities included literary conferences in Hindi, Dogri, Punjabi, and District Annual Drama Festival, Family based musical series ‘Gharana’ completed 18 episodes.
Dogri Sanstha, the premier literary and cultural NGOs, was in news for spearheading agitation for ensuring Dogri’s due representation in Cultural Academy’s Central Committee and against introduction of Kashmiri language in Jammu region. The Sanstha held regular literary sittings at Dogri Bhavan, organized Seminar on Contemporary Research Work in Dogri Language, Literature for Young Scholars and book release functions of Chhatrapal’s Bol Toteaa Bol (Dogri Satires), Narinder Bhasin’s Neel Madhav, (Khand Kavyaa), P.L. Parihar’s Geet Pataru (Dogri Songs), Gianeshwar’s Sajri Rutt (Dogri Poems), Ved Rahi’s Dogri transaltion of Mulk Raj Saraf’s Autobiography, and Ranbir Chib’s Pattan Chanan Da (poetry).
Publications by
Dogri writers
Nirmal Vinod’s Dogri Navgeet Sangreh-As Te Aa Aam Lok, Prof Veena Gupta’s monograph on Life and Works of Ram Nath Shastri, four numbers of Nami Chetana, Dogri Sanstha’s quarterly magazine. Desh Bandhu Nutan Dogra’s Veer Jasrath Khokar, a historic novel. Om Goswami, contributed seven books, mostly novels, in Hindi and Dogri, and Mangal Das Dogra’s poetry book Maan Dharti Da. Suman Sharma, credited with quality English translations of Dogri prose and poetry, contributed with publication of translated stories.
Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, with Prof Lalit Magotra demitting office as Convener Dogri Advisory Board after a fruitful term, the Akademi’s programs held this year included, Meet the Author with Champa Sharma, Asmita with Dogri women poets, Through My Window: Poet Mohan Singh, spoke on Ved Pal Deep, Distinguished Dogri Poet: Lecture on Surendra Singh Manhas by Sushil Begana, Kathasandhi, with Dogri fiction writers Rajeshwar Raju and Shashi Pathania, Kavisandhi with Bishan Singh Dardi and Vijay Verma, People and Book with Prof. P. K. Sharma, and three Gramalok Dogri Poets’ Meets. Symposia were organized on ‘The impact of globalization on Dogri Literature’, ‘Youth writing in Dogri Language’, ‘Echoes of Folk Literature in Contemporary Dogri Literature’, ‘Dogri Ghazal’ and ‘Dogri Short Stories’ and Deenu Bhai Pant Centenary Celebrations. Monographs in MIL series were published on Yash Sharma by Bishan Singh Dardi and Ramnath Shastri by Veena Gupta, ‘Bedi Dubbi’, Chhatrapal’s translation of Rabindra Nath Tagore Bengali novel ‘NaukaDubi’, Chonmiyan Konkani Khaniyan (translated in a workshop), compiled and edited by Veena Gupta. Darshan Darshi, renowned Dogri poet, writer, taking over as the new Convener of Dogri Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, was also hailed as a significant transition.
Along with NGOs like Duggar Manch and Nami Dogri Sanstha, dedicated to the promotion of Dogra culture and literature, Dogri Bhasha Academy, led by patron, organizer Yashpaul Nirmal, also chipped in by organizing seminars on Dogra Rulers, Dogri literature, monthly Literary Goshti’s and book release functions.
While NGOs dedicated to cause of Urdu remained mostly inactive, it was Anjuman-e -Farogh-e – Urdu which held Urdu Books release function. Adbi Kunj organized regular meets of Urdu poets and writers. JU’s Post-Graduate Department of Urdu, under Prof Shohab Malik organized regular seminars and literary meets with national level and local Urdu writers, poets and scholars. Urdu poet Pandit Vidya Nath Aasi, master poet Arsh Sehbai, continued to pen down and recite excellent and insightful poetry.
Hindi Bhasha Prachar Samiti, with Bharat Bhushan as its president, organized book release funtions, held poetic meets. New additions included Hindi book ‘Aastha Ki Arthviyastha’ by Yogita Yadav, Anila Chark’s book Waqt ki Ungliyon Ke Nishan (a collection of poems), Mere Khyal Kahte Hain’ by Shivani Anand.
Gojri’s literary scene owing mainly to the Cultural Academy’s Gojri section was enriched by large number of books and journals in Gojri. Tribal Research Foundation led by Javed Rahi, staged a Gojri play. ‘Maqdam Bajyoo’, which directed by Shokat Naseem, reflected changing realities of tribal life.
Surinder Neer, translated from Kashmiri into Punjabi, Gulam Nabi Gohar’s awarded novel, her six Punjabi short stories were published in leading magazines, and three translated in Hindi. Cultural Academy publications included Sheeraja’s Guru Gobind Singh special issue, Pritpal Singh Betab’s Punjabi translation Mitti Da Bawa of Krishan Chander’s Urdu novel ‘Mitti Ke Sanam’, Monograph on Harbans Singh Azad by Joginder Singh Pandhi. Punjabi Lekhak Sabha, Jammu, organized fortnightly meets/ programmes and published Punjabi periodical ‘Aabru’. Books released were by Prof. Harbans Singh, Balwinder Singh, Giani Jeevan Singh and Giani Pritam Singh. J&K Punjabi Sahit Sangam released Jammu Punjabi Poetry Collection- ‘Tangali Tangey Lok’, ‘Maa’ by Joginder Singh Pandhi. Writers Forum released ‘Joginder Singh Pandhi: Jivan Te Rachna’ compiled, edited by Popinder Singh Paras and ‘Kalakaar Vishesh Ank on Joginder Singh Pandhi’ . Other new books were Jasbir Singh Sarna’s ‘Adabnaama’, ‘Mrig Trishna;’ Punjabi poetry collection of Sewa Singh Sheetal. Dr. Jasbir Sarna was honoured by Kashmir Sikh Sangat, Dr. Monojit got J&K Cultural Academy’s Best Book Award.
Cultural Academy’s Pahari Section through publication in different genre augmented Pahari literature. Quotable Pahari poets were Swami Anterneerav, Saleem Tabish, Anwar Khan, Liaqat Jardari, Guershan Gulshan, Rashid Qamar and Parvez Malik.
Visual Arts, in J&K have almost nil visibility due to J&K Academy’s listless policy, failure of J& K Universities to give due status to visual arts in their set up and general apathy of the civil society towards creative arts. But individual artists continued to create, exhibit their works and win accolades albeit outside the state. Nikhil Chopra, internationally acclaimed Performance Artist with Jammu connections, hogged lime light for his insightful shows in leading galleries of Europe. Rajinder Tikku eminent sculptor, honoured with Sharda Samman, was conferred award from Vishnu Manchu Foundation, Tirupati. He held solo show ” womb and the Sprout’ at New Delhi and participated in International Sculpture Symposium organized by the ITM. Jasleen Singh, sculptor, was awarded by Prafulla Dahanukar Art foundation, Mumbai, with All India Gold Medal Awards for Best Installation and, also for Best Digital Art. He held Group Show at Nehru centre Mumbai, Viraj Art Gallery, Kala Kendra Jammu, and attended National Stone Carving Camp, Vallabh Vidyanagar Anand, Gujarat. Amit Salathia’s, painting and sculpture were selected in 58th and 59th National Exhibition. Suman Gupta held solo shows, and his paintings were exhibited in many foreign shows. Painter K.K. Gandhi exhibited in solo and group-shows, attended, and organized national level art camps. Raj Bharti, the indomitable spirit behind Viraj Kala Kendra founded in memory of J&K’s eminent sculptor V.R. Khajuria, Kendra celebrated its 25-foundation year by holding Children Painting, Clay Modeling competitions, and Art Exhibition. Chander Parkash, sculptor, attended national Stone Sculpture Camp at Rajkot, Sculpture Symposia in Armania and China. He was awarded Best prize in China symposium. Sonu Aggarwal, sculptor, participated in Wood Sculpture Symposium, in Sonderburg, Denmark. She participated in Stone Sculpture Camp at Rajkot. Vikas Khajuria attended Art Festival at, Aiud, Art Museum, Alba Ullia. Romania, attended National Scrap Sculpture Camp at Rajkot, National Painters’ Camp at Gangtok, Public Art Show at Baroda, Sculptors’ Camp at Chandigarh and Group Show at Habitat Centre, New Delhi. Milan Sharma showcased her paintings in a group show in Sri Lanka. Ganesh Sharma’s sculptures were displayed in Group Shows at New Delhi, IAFA, Amritsar, ITI, Hira Nagar, JKCCA exhibition, Jammu, exhibition at VKK, Jammu, Painters’ Camps at Akhnoor, and two National level Painters Camps at Mansar and Samba. Spring Art Group, Jammu organized ‘Rutt Rahrey’ at Lale Da Baag, Akhnoor. Damon Kowarsky, Australian printmaker and Hyun Ju Kim, a South Korean printmaker interacted with the students and staff of Institute of Music and Fine Arts, (IMFA) Jammu and demonstrated their techniques. A week Long National Art Festival was organized by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in collaboration with IMFA, JU. Jammu artists Rohit Verma, Sahil Ohri, Narinder Kumar, Anjali Bharti, Renu Bala, Marvi Sharma, Risha Chib and Simran Sharma displayed works at Cartist Automobile Art Festival organized at Jaipur. Jang S. Verman displayed his works in number of international and national art exhibitions, art festivals. He participated in Painters Camps at Naggar, Kullu, Kala Kendra, Jammu, Mansar & Bhamlada. Sunanda Khajuria, Delhi based painter from Painthal, had shows at Indian Art Fair, Art Heritage Gallery, New Delhi, Group Exhibitions in India- Korea Cultural Exchange Exhibition Seoul / South Korea, The Gallery, InKo Centre India and South Korea, Indiske Billeder, Art Association, Denmark, “Under the Sky”, Inner Mongolia Museum, Hohhot, China. Reecha Gupta, the freelance painter, also participated in number of group shows. Ravinder Jamwal’s besides his creative works, contributed with statues of prominent personalities on public demand.
Manoj Chopra, was ranked 3rd in CSR cartoon competition, ranked Second in a National Level Competition by Cartoon Watch & Chattisgarh State Renewable Energy Development Agency. His participations included National Cartoon Exhibition in Kargil, National Cartoon Exhibition ‘Freedom of Expression’ by Kerala Academy and Ernakulum Press Club. Chander Shekhar, attended National Cartoonists Camp held by Kerala Lalithkala Akademy, at Kochi, Fatkare National Exhibition at Nagpur, and organized national cartoon exhibition at Kargil.
Well known creative photographers Ch Sundar, Dr Ashok, Subhash Langeh, Vijay Gupta participated in number of international and national shows and won gold medals and honours.
Under stewardship of Balwant Thakur, Jammu’s theatre group Natrang has made phenomenal strides this year: Two of its iconic productions Baba Jitto became longest running play in the country and the other Ghumayiee is chosen to be staged in International Theatre Olympiad being held in India. Natrang, organized record 102 shows/programmes during the year 2017. These included shows of Baba Jitto, Mata Ki Kahani, nine new plays, 10 participations in National Theatre Festivals, Natrang Theatre Festival, Fresher’s Theatre Workshop, Children’s Theatre Camp, International Acting Workshop- ‘Theatre of the oppressed’ by Fabian Hartwell, Foundation Day Celebrations, Show Series of play ‘Parvaaz’ . Director Natrang, Balwant Thakur, was conferred with ‘Prithivi Raj Kapoor Samman’ for his life-time contribution to theatre by Ras Kala Manch, Haryana. Amateur Theater Group, led by Mushtaq Kak, also had distinction of being selected to stage its play in International Theatre Olympiad being held in India. The group has contributed significantly for promoting Urdu language theatre by staging Khalid Husain’s Ishq Malangi in major festivals and venues of the country. Other notable activity was starting monthly series of plays directed by young directors/actors, holding workshops etc. Samooh Theatre Group, working under patronage of Sudhir Mahajan, and direction of Ravinder Sharma, held a three day drama festival, staged Hindi translations/adaptations of Hamlet, Othello, Oedipus, Tempest, Tendulkar’s Papa Kho Gaye, Andha Yug, and Dogri plays; Gian Singh’s Kaliveer, Baba Jitmal and others. The group’s performances of play Gagan damama Bajyo has entered in the 10th year. The Group held Folk theatre workshop on ‘Haran’, and performed plays like Play X – Reflection, Agni Barkha, Sarpanch and Urubhangam . Rangyug: led by Deepak Kumar, has been galvanized this year by starting 360 Hours Theatre Training for the young aspirants, The group also organized Nritya Utsav with Kathak Guru Priya Dutta, released a compilation of write-ups of Naresh Gulati, and performed shows of nukkad Dheeth at various places in Jammu. Pancham kept its calendar ticking by holding a few performances, while Ek Saath Rangmandal under its mentor Vijay Malla continued its Monday series of street theatre on various topical social issues. Pankaj Sharma staged his solo-performance at Srinagar. Vomed Rangmanch, dedicated to theatre in Kashmiri, staged in Jammu and outside plays written by Rakesh Bhat and directed by Rohit Bhat like Ek Aur Birbal, Chopayer Yee Gash, Gadd Bateh and Rovmut Batta. Playwright: Jammu’s prolific playwright Rajneesh Gupta’s Hindi play Jashn-E-Zindagi was adjudged as best play by J& K Cultural Academy. His play on Aruna Asaf Ali’s life, Kirayedar, Mahanagar Ka Tahlua, and nukkad natak Barat Nahi Aayee were staged.
Radio Kashmir Jammu
Anjali Sharma, RKJ’s head, is credited with programs Matribhasha and Maan-Bollee, aimed at preservation of regional languages. RKJ, on Dec 1, celebrated its 70th foundation day.
Carrying the musical legacy, Rahul Sharma , son of world renowned santoor maestro attended the 70 years of Radio Kashmir Jammu celebrations. This was his first ever musical performance in Jammu.
ICCR Jammu
Reasi Cultural Festival, International Dance Day, Music and Dances of Malaysia, Interaction with renowned theatrist Ratan Thiyam, Mime Festival/Workshop by renowned Mime artist/trainer Niranjan Goswami, ‘Mata Ki Kahani’ , Screening of film ‘Gulab Gaatha’, ‘Loko Migi Taang Sajne Di’ by Krishan Lal Premi Jatt, ‘Ghassen Azaiez and Band’ from Tunisia. Horizon Series program were: ‘Young Tarang-III, Shakespeare’s Hamlet directed by Ravinder Sharma, Musical Programme ‘Music of the Hills’, Screening of Ratan Thiyam’s play ‘When We Dead Awaken’.
Classical Dance
Other than landmark Kudiattyam performance by Bhasha Sumbli, the exponent of Kathak dance in Jammu Priya Dutta, performed recitals at JU, her students of `Nrityanjali’ held Nritya Utsav, and she choreographed students for various programs. Manju Wazir, a senior dancer, also gave Kathak recital.
Amar Mahal (AMML)
Conceptualized by Dr. Jyotsna Singh, Director, AMML, organized Celebrating Jammu: Jashn-e-Baharan, a festival of Literature, Arts & Crafts featuring Creative Writers Workshop, Young Artists Camp, Heritage Walk, Show of Traditional and Royal Costumes, Photo Exhibition, Festival of Food, Craft and Traditional Contemporary performing arts. It featured 200 Artists, Writers, Poets, Scholars, Performers, Designers, Sculptures, Painters & Photographers. The seminars were held on topics: Defining Jammu: Celebrating Diversities, Facing Challenges and Revisiting Historiography and Historical Discourse on Maharaja Gulab Singh.
University of Jammu’s (JU), Department of Students Welfare, to promote cultural/literary talents among students organized: Photography Workshop, Lok Rang Mahotsava, Cartooning Workshop, Mime Festival/Workshop, In the 32nd National Youth Festival.