Sick Abhinav Theatre

Theatre originated in Greece in historical time, and it reached perfection with the great Greek dramatists.  More than any other genre of aesthetics, theatre has played the most crucial role in the cultural history of nations especially with the dawn of modernity. During Soviet period, theatre became major instrument of developing historical, artistic, ideological and critical sense in the community. As times advanced, simple theatre got converted into multi-purpose cultural forum and the venue for expression of artistic finesse in a given society. People liked theatre because it reflected life and its joys, sorrow or complexities through visual demonstration by the actors on the stage.
Way back in 1978, Abhinav Theatre came into existence in Jammu. The very name of Abhinav was inspiring for the great thinker and artists Abhinav Gupta, was not only the unparalleled exponent of Shaivite philosophy but also one who made critical appreciation of Bharat Natyam. The name commemorated this intellectual and though the structure was given the name of Abhinav Theatre, many more cultural, social and artistic events came to be organized under its portals. One can recall innumerable functions of historical, cultural and social significance organized in this theatre. One can also recollect so many outstanding personalities in the field of art, culture, language, literature, music, dramatics and aesthetics performing, or addressing the audience from its platform. With the passage of time, Abhinav Theatre became part of the post-independence cultural history of Jammu.
Its greatest contribution is the development and shaping of the career of so many gifted and meritorious young boys and girls of Jammu in the field of art, music, dramatics, language and literature. In fact, Abhinav Theatre is the cultural icon for the people of Jammu so much so that some came to adduce spiritual sanctity to it. After all, music, dancing (natyam), sculptor and other aesthetic manifestations of the creativity within the bosom of human beings have been given sort of sanctimony by our sages and seers.
The structure of Abhinav Theatre is a mixture of traditional architectural specimen and modern artistic exposition in not too elaborate depiction. In any case, it has been meeting the cultural requirements of Jammu society. The building was ultimately handed over to the J&K Academy of Art, Languages and Culture which managed its affairs as smoothly as it could under various Secretaries.  But time and weather had their impact and despite intermittent repairs inside as well outside, the roof of the Theatre began leaking for some time in the past. When the seepage increased, it damaged the walls and the furniture and reduced the structure to a shabby state. With this situation, the authorities of Cultural Academy sought to tape the sources for its repairs and part renovation. They ran from pillar to post but the State Government did not evince any urgency in coming to the rescue of the building that was in the throes of dilapidation. Budgetary allocations of the Academy were abysmally insufficient to undertake any major repair of the leaking roof and replacement of furniture especially the chairs that had all lost their sheen and glaze.
Cultural Academy officials made frantic efforts that funds be procured from Government sources to undertake immediate repairs but nothing worked to their satisfaction. Ultimately, when the Government of India decided to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore on national scale, the Union Ministry of Culture decided to provide funds to the tune of 60 per cent of renovation and repair projects and the remaining 40 per cent was to be provided by the State Government. With this source of funding, the requirements of Abhinav Theatre were listed and forwarded to the centre which accorded its sanction. With that repair and renovation work was taken in hand and the initial estimate of Rs.2.97 crore jumped to 6.5 crore rupees.
Abhinav Theatre was closed on 1 April 2012 to public visitation owing to repairing work begun at the site. State PWD became the agency through which the repair work has to be executed and teams of experts from outside visited the site and expressed satisfaction on the repair work going on especially in plugging the seepage in the roof and changing the chairs. However the project is faced with niggardly release of funds and the work has been going on on a snail’s pace. It is more than two years that Abhinav Theatre has been closed for repairs. One can imagine what loss the society has met by its prolonged closure. It has been sort of nightmare for artists, culturists, performers, poets, writers and dramatists. They urge the Government to provide the necessary wherewithal to the Cultural Academy so that repair work is speeded up and the Abhinav Theatre is thrown open to public use as early as possible.


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