Bhand Pather: The Folk Theatre of Kashmir

edited by Sushma Jatoo and Sudhir Lall, B.R. Publishing Corporation in collaboration with Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 2016, viii, 115 p, col plates, ISBN : 9789350502464, $55.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Bhand Pather: The Folk Theatre of Kashmir

Contents: 1. Introduction. 2. Visuals of inaugural session and panel discussion. 3. Text of the presentations. 4. Shastra and Prayoga: Understanding Shastra- through the living traditional theatre practice and vice-versa/Kamalesh Dutta Tripathi. 5. Bhand Pather-traditional theatre of Kashmir/Farooq Fayaz. 6. The pathers and the visuals. 7. Gosain pather. 8. Shikargah pather. 9. Badshah pather. 10. Credits. (One paper in Hindi)

Bhand Pather is an age-old traditional theatre form of Kashmir; generally held in open spaces. Interestingly in this theatre form, there is no pre-determined script, since it belongs to the oral tradition, handed down from one generation to the other, in the Guru-Shishya parampara. Although the themes are old, the performance is always new, as it manifests itself in a new space and time. The Bhand actors skilfully weave and infuse contemporary religious, social and political issues into the prevalent stories of the plays from the repertoire in such a manner that every performance has something fresh to the audience. Though rustic in nature and presentation, the vocabulary of Bhand Pather is elevated to higher grounds with intermittent allusions to the Vakhs and Shruks of several great medieval and modern mystics of Kashmir. Over a vast period of time, Bhand Pather has evolved as a mature and complete theatrical experience.

To expound the academic, historical, cultural and performative perspectives of this rare art-form at an institutional level, the IGNCA organized a three-day festival titled ‘Revisiting Bhand Pather: folk theatre of Kashmir’ under its ‘Shastra and Prayoga’ programme. During this festival, stage performance of three Bhand Pather plays, namely, Gosain Pather, Shikargah Pather and Badshah Pather was organized in the amphitheatre of the IGNCA for three successive days.

The present illustrated monograph is an attempt to encapsulate the spirit of the said theatre art-form through the event and present a visual treat to the general readers and connoisseurs alike. (jacket)

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