Wednesday, February 29, 2012

बात का बतंगड़

मुंबई। मगन संग्रहालय के सहयोग के साथ उन्हीं के परिसर में दिनांक 17 से 18 फरवरी को एक सांस्कृतिक कार्यक्रम का आयोजन किया गया। सांस्कृतिक संध्या का शुभारंभ भारतेंदु समूह के गायन के साथ हुआ। इसके पश्चात मुंबई के ‘कबीरा’ समूह ने नाटक ‘बात का बतंगड़’ का मंचन किया, जिसका निर्देशन किया है शाहिद कबीर ने। नाट्यालेख भी उन्हीं का है। यह नाटक बताता है कि किस तरह एक समस्याग्रस्त परिवार राजनेताओं की नापाक हरकतों के कारण सांप्रदायिक माहौल के गर्त में जा धँसता है। इसके पश्चात लोक कला मंच, अहमदाबाद द्वारा दो अन्य नाटकों का प्रदर्शन हुआ। एक था, ‘आओ, संसद-संसद खेलें’ जो राजनीतिज्ञों के आधिपत्य व करतूतों का बखान करता है। दूसरा नाटक एक कपड़ा मिल के बंद होने, बेरोजगारी उत्पन्न होने व परिणाम स्वरूप सांप्रदयिकता फैलने की गाथा बयान करता है। दोनों ही नाटकों का अंत शांति व भाईचारे के संदेश के साथ होता है।

दूसरे दिन 18 फरवरी को दोनों ही नाट्य समूहों ने एक बार फिर विश्वविद्यालय-कर्मियों व छात्रों के लिये अपने नाट्य प्रदर्शनों को दोहराया व इन प्रस्तुतियों को खूब सराहना मिली। इसी दिन प्रेसकर्मियों से बातचीत का कार्यक्रम भी रखा गया था। डॉ. असगर अली इंजीनियर, डॉ. राम पुनियानी व श्री एल. एस. हरदेनिया ने संवाददाताओं से बातचीत की व उनके विभिन्न सवालों का जवाब दिया। यह साक्षात्कार विभिन्न टीवी चैनलों पर प्रसारित हुआ तथा ‘द हितवाद’ में प्रकाशित हुआ। दिनांक 19 फरवरी को अयोध्या मंदिर के महंत श्री जुगलकिशोर सरण शास्त्री द्वारा एक किताब  “Freedom of Religion in India"  का लोकार्पण किया गया तथा यह किताब प्रतिभागियों के बीच वितरीत की गयी।

Theatre of protest

 Probir Guha
I do theatre for a political reason.  Nothing is beyond politics. We live in a fully feudal and colonial value loaded society with their vices. It needs to be changed. I dream to change it. So, I use theatre as a weapon to destroy and to re-create my society. I don’t do theatre just for art sake. It has a certain purpose. My theatre is my one of my daily necessity like hunger ,sleep, using toilet, sex. It is true .. has to be true. I love to introduce myself as a theatre activist, rather than an artist. I direct plays to lead the activism in a particular way where acting does not exist but issues come alive within audience. It is a theatre of protest. I belive the theatre to be a communal project, a celebration. It is a form of expression that would become more and more of a necessity as society becomes increasingly mechanical and organized. Theatre for me is a way to get people to communicate with each other, to destroy the walls which make separate. I don’t want to produce classics. But , I have full respect if any person do it. I feel myself responsible for my society and time.  As a politically conscious theatre activist, I want to react on my surroundings... my present time. My group members represent an amalgam of diverse socio-economical groups of our society including the youth from lower strata and impoverished lower middle class families. Thus the theatre presented by my group, Alternative Living Theatre... is shaped by struggle and sufferings of common man especially the down trodden people of present day urban society. I do theatre for the marginal, who lives in villages, slums, footpaths, and on all odd places...I also consider, Women, Elderly persons and Children are also in marginal community. I don’t want to entertain my audience .. rather I want to put them in such a situation, where they would be forced to think  about their surroundings...  If you have a scar, I don’t want to put healing ointment on it, rather I would rub it with salt, so that it burns you for longer duration.. I don’t do so called entertaining  theatre. So, I don’t copy film in my theatre. Film and Theatre are  two different form of communication. Both are very different in their approach.  Both form has their own advantage and limitations. To overcome the limitations are the challenges for the particular form. Theatre should not compromise with cinema. It does not need to copy cinema to express itself. Theatre has its own language to communicate. Cinema is not a live performance. It's all illusions. But theatre is live performance. In theatre, conceptually the design, text, acting style, has to be totally different than cinema. The most important condition of theatre is that performers and spectators are physically present in the same time and place. It is essential that the audience to be made to focus on the real world. It is also important to create a sense of community among the spectators who then would have the potential for collective actions. Such a community could be dreamed if the spectators are physically present in front of actors. And here lies the power of theatre in Third World countries.
We are in need of Third Theatre what was first told by Eugenio Barba in early 70.  In 1960's and early 70's, the political movement gave birth of a new theatre movement outside the dominant theatre culture. Initially, the new theatre was the expression of socio-political thinkers. These activists were somehow related with various movements like: civil rights, free democracy, freedom of political prisoners, freedom of voice,anti Vietnam war, naxalite movements etc.
These alternative theatre people challenged the existing politics, aesthetics, working styles, direction methodology and their techniques. They came out from the proscenium frame and from their set ideas. They started approaching towards a new group of people, intellectuals, artists, critics, political radicals, workers, farmers, dalits, women etc. They started exploring a new methodology, new aesthetic principles which can be used to express their new conceptions. Though it started in Europe, but the strong waves of this movement caused a tsunami every where even in our country.
When an alternative culture and life-style began to take shape in early 70's following the towering personality, Badal Sircar,in our country, another kind of theatre practioner started coming into theatre arena. It was a grass-root theatre movement in that some of the participants did not come from the theatrical profession but were drawn to theatre as a means of expression for their socio political commitment.
Those groups started thinking of new theatre training because the objectives, techniques and styles required a different skills which are not taught in any theatre schools or an theatre groups in the country. It was providing a different social experiences which were not available in mainstream theatre. People came here from different strata. They were from students, teachers, people from different classes and social backgrounds, those with artistic commitments and political activists.

Two kind of energy was very dominant in this new theatre. The moral energy of social causes and the intention towards an artistic exploration...two perspectives.. which gave birth of a different human experiences. One perspective, who looked outward, exploring human beings in society, analyzing social institutions. The other perspective was inward looking and involved a consideration of how we perceive, feel, think, the structure of thought, the nature of consciousness, the self... in relation to art.
Unlike the mainstream theatre, they are not concerned with so-called entertainment. They don’t consider THEATRE as a product to be sold. Instead, they are concerned to improve the quality of life for themselves as well as for the audiences.
The traditional theatre spaces are economically unfeasible and also artistically unsuitable for their theatre approach. It is too uncomfortable for their expression. It divides actors and audience. This theatre demands a different space for their activities. Where they can arrange their acting space and sitting arrangements for their audiences as per their choice. It is on the same level. Audience are not in dark portion. both group can see each other. And thus both the group confront each other directly. Even the actor can touch, disturb the audience and also some time the audience also take part in the play what is almost impossible in mainstream proscenium theatre. Here the performer - audience relationship  develops a community spirit. A theatrical celibration can take place anywhere: in a small room, out of doors, in a garage, on a roof, under a tree, on foot path, in park, on boat, in a cowshed ..everywhere .. under artificial light, under street light, under candle light, moon light even under sunlight.
However, the most important changes are the development of an autonomous creative method, a shift from the dominance of verbal words to a physical, visual emphasis. Audience started viewing theatre instead of listening only. An autonomous method has been developed to make a new play. It is not that a playwright is writing a play in isolation and artists are staging it in a different time. The new method of creation involves a single process where in the same activists develop the work from initial conception to finished play. They started developing a different play where the characters are not important but the issues are very important. Issues are not created to created to establish the character rather characters are being created for the purpose of issues. That’s why, after the play audience don't clap for the actors but, they discuss on the raised points, even they started debating with actors. Some time they divide in groups and start a verbal fight. These plays are mostly developed with less text and very abstract, very lyrical, very precise. It never follows any prescribed rule of writing text. For them theatre is not literary form of expression. They belive in the process not in product.
A visual focus became an alternative to 'dependence on words' as a medium of expression. a distrust started developing against this practice. The distrusts because of the end they are being used by the politicians and advertising. Also, the playwright tries to fulfill their artistic skills in writing which may not be important for communication. They are also tended to make it a long play according to the demand of the market which may not be necessary to communicate the premise. It is realized that this new concepts can not be expressed by words only. It demands physicalisation. It demands a new body language. As the activists are not academically educated enough and not a trend actor, they felt freedom by discovering a newer language of their own expression. Their feelings of inferiority transformed in a positive way. They started contributing a different language to theatre.  Painters and artists who were getting  involved in theatre were naturally inclined towards this visual means, and other theatre artists experimented with non-verbal sounds, with placing focus upon the performer's body, and with a variety of non-verbal means.
 If any person want to create something new and different, the person have to discard the older way and to work very hard for a newer path. It demands lot of experimentation. And it is a never ending process. The important work is to demystify the word 'theatre'. In alternative approach, an artist should try to adopt a spectator-performance relationship similar to that in visual arts. Audience in round or gallery do not loose consciousness of themselves or of the time and place of the exhibition. While viewing a painting they remain aware that the illusion presented in fact an illusion. and they are also conscious of the means used to create it. similarly, in the work of most alternative theatre, the audience is aware of both the illusion and the performers. It helps to demystify THEATRE.
The activists of alternative theatre set out to explore our traditions, rituals. Now they understand that human beings  thinking process, body language are all conditioned. It is conditioned by our feudal and colonial value loaded society’s vices. We need to decondition ourselves with the help of our traditional culture. The next is Re-conditioning, where we need to transform our learning from tradition into a modern concept. It is like a lotus  we see on the surface of water. but it has a steam, which goes through the water to mud. It collects its ingredients for life from the mud. And its steam helps to metabolize it into energy and thus the lotus blooms on the surface of water. The task is very hard. they need to make theatre as true as hunger. When theatre is true, there is an actual moment of truth, and when it happens there is a change of perception. Everyone of us, most of the time, is blind to reality. But when the life is perceived more intensely, then there is real food for soul. When it happens, there is a change of perception and what is received is for life. Theatre gives that chance to see life more closely and clearly.
The activist must realize that the glow of media is not for them. Even economically they may suffer. They are just few in numbers. But they must feel proud because they are the pioneer of the changing society. And they have taken it as voluntary task. It is the beginning and they have to walk a long way against the market system. Their task is to give a voice to voiceless but artistically.
The immediate task is to find or invent more expressive, inexpensive and simple ways to articulate what they feel about the changing times, about society, about perceiving, feeling and knowing. They must keep working on exploring new materials, develop new techniques, and to create newer forms to hold and express the concepts they consider important for the TIME.

जब गूंज उठा कैफी का नगमा

मिजवां के लिए मुंबई मैराथन में दौड़े फिल्म सितारे 

मुंबई. मुंबई मैराथन के वीआईपी खेमे में रविवार की सुबह उस वक्त हलचल पैदा हो गई, जब चर्चित अभिनेत्री एवं समाजसेवी शबाना आजमी ने फिल्म सितारों की अपनी फौज के साथ कदम रखा. सबकी निगाहें रणबीर कपूर, चित्रांगदा सिंह, प्रतीक, शाजान पद्मसी,पेरिजाद जोराबियन, रोनित रॉय, रोहित रॉय, तन्वी आजमी और अदिति शर्मा पर आ टिकीं. यह सभी नौजवान फिल्म कलाकार शबाना आजमी द्वारा संचालित मिजवां वेलफेयर सोसायटी के सर्मथन में मुंबई मैराथन में हिस्सा लेने पहुंचे थे.

मिजवां वेलफेयर सोसायटी के यूथ अंबेसडर रणबीर कपूर ने शबाना आजमी के साथ नौवें स्टैंडर्ड चार्टड मुंबई मैराथन की व्हील चेयर रेस को हरी झंडी दिखाई. रणबीर ने पत्रकारों से बातचीत में कहा, मैं यहां शबाना और मिजवां के लिए आया हूं. शबाना जो भी सामाजिक कार्य करती हैं, उसे दिल से करती हैं. मैं उनके साथ यहां आकर बहुत खुश हूं. रणबीर की सराहना करते हुए शबाना आजमी ने कहा, मैं बहुत खुश हूं कि फिल्म इंडस्ट्री के मेरे सभी नौजवान दोस्त मिजवां के लिए मुंबई मैराथन में आए. अब्बा आज बहुत खुश होंगे. ड्रीम रन के दौरान प्रतीक अपनी दोस्त शाजान के साथ मौज-मस्ती करते दिखे. वे कभी दौडक़र आगे चले जाते, तो कभी लौटकर शबाना आजमी के साथ हो लेते.

प्रतीक ने खुशी जाहिर करते हुए कहा, मेरी मां स्मिता पाटिल और शबाना आजमी बहुत अच्छे दोस्त थे. मैं शबाना की एनजीओ मिजवां का हिस्सा बनकर बहुत खुश हूं. गौरतलब है कि मशहूर शायर एवं लेखक कैफी आजमी ने अपने गांव मिजवां (आजमगढ़, उप्र) में महिलाओं एवं लड़कियों को शिक्षित एवं आत्मनिर्भर बनाने के उद्देश्य से मिजवां वेलफेयर सोसायटी (एनजीओ) की स्थापना की थी. अब शबाना आजमी अपने पिता के उस सपने को साकार कर रही हैं. अभिनेत्री एवं समाजसेवी शबाना आजमी कंधे में फै्रक्चर तथा मिजवां वेलफेयर सोसायटी की यूथ प्रेसीडेंट नम्रता गोयल पैर में फ्रेक्चर होने के बावजूद मुंबई मैराथन में अपनी टीम के साथ ड्रीम रन रेस में दौड़े. उनके इस जोश की लोगों ने जमकर तारीफ एïवं हौसलाअफजाई की.

मुंबई मैराथन का वह पल बेहद खास थाजब प्रेस क्रांफ्रेंस के दौरान शबाना आजमी और उनकी भाभी तन्वी आजमी ने कैफी आजमी का मैं आजाद हूं फिल्म का मशहूर नगमा कितने बाजू,कितने सिर.. गाया. इस जोश से भरे नगमे में वहां उपस्थित सितारे उनका साथ देने से खुद को रोक नहीं सके.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

देखना फिल्म को किताब की तरह

अब भी हैं फिल्म को किताब की 
तरह देखने वाले फिल्मकार

-विनोद भारद्वाज
साठ के दशक में उभरे नये सिनेमा के कई नाम हैं-समांतर सिनेमा, सार्थक सिनेमा, आर्ट सिनेमा, नयी धारा, प्रयोगधर्मी सिनेमा, गैर-पेशेवर सिनेमा। समांतर सिनेमा (पैरलल सिनेमा) ही शायद सबसे सही नाम है। सन् 1960 में फिल्म वित्त निगम (फिल्म फाइनेंस कार्पोरेशन या एफएफसी) ने सिनेमा के लिए जगह बनानी शुरू की थी और साठ के दशक के अंतिम वर्षों में भारतीय भाषाओं में एक साथ कई ऐसी फिल्में बनीं जिन्होंने नयी धारा आंदोलन को ऐतिहासिक पहचान दी। फ्रांस में पचास के दशक में कुछ युवा फिल्म समीक्षकों ने नयी धारा को विश्व सिनेमा के इतिहास में अपने ढंग से रेखांकित किया और जब उन्होंने (गोदार, फ्रांसुआ, त्रुफो आदि) अपनी फिल्में बनानी शुरू कीं तो उन फिल्मों को फ्रांसीसी भाषा में नूवेल वाग (न्यू वेव यानी नयी धारा या लहर) नाम दिया गया। एफएफसी ने शुरू में सुरक्षित रास्ता चुना था और वी शांताराम की "स्त्री' (1962) सरीखी फिल्मों से शुरुआत की थी। सत्यजित राय की "चारुलता', "नायक', "गोपी गायन बाघा बायन' सरीखी फिल्में भी इसी स्रोत से बनीं। राय तब तक अंतरराष्ट्रीय ख्याति पा चुके थे। शांताराम तो खैर मुख्यधारा के सिनेमा की पैदाइश थे। लेकिन फिल्म पत्रकार बीके करंजिया जब एफएफसी के अध्यक्ष बने, तो कम बजट की प्रयोगधर्मी फिल्मों को बढ़ावा मिलना शुरू हुआ। 

बांग्ला फिल्मकार मृणाल सेन की "भुवन शोम' (1969) से समांतर सिनेमा की शुरुआत मानी जा सकती है। इस फिल्म का बजट कम था, नायक उत्पल दत्त भले ही नायककार और अभिनेता के रूप में मशहूर थे, लेकिन नायिका सुहासिनी मुले बिलकुल नया चेहरा थीं। "भुवन शोम' का नायक रेलवे में एक अक्खड़-अकड़ू अफसर था जो गुजरात के उजाड़ में चिड़ियों के शिकार के चक्कर में एक ग्रामीण लड़की के सामने अपनी हेकड़ी भूलने पर मजबूर हो जाता है। लड़की को इस तानाशाह अफसर का कोई डर नहीं है। अफसर को जीवन की नयी समझ मिलती है।खुद सत्यजित राय को समांतर सिनेमा का एक नाम कहा जा सकता है। मृणाल सेन, राय और ऋत्विक घटक लगभग एक ही दौर में अपनी फिल्मों से भारत के बेहतर सिनेमा के चर्चित प्रतिनिधि साबित हुए थे। राय को पश्चिम में अधिक ख्याति और चर्चा मिली, मृणाल सेन राजनीतिक दृष्टि से अधिक प्रतिबद्ध थे और ऋत्विक घटक बाद में भारतीय समांतर सिनेमा के अघोषित गुरु बना दिये गये। मणि कौल, कुमार शहानी आदि नयी धारा के फिल्मकार घटक के छात्र थे और वे राय के सिनेमा को अपना "पूर्ववर्ती' नहीं मानते थे। कुमार शहानी क्योंकि फ्रांस में रॉबर्ट ब्रेसां सरीखे चर्चित प्रयोगधर्मी फिल्मकार के साथ भी काम कर चुके थे, इसलिए उनकी पहली फिल्म "माया दर्पण' को प्रयोगधर्मी सिनेमा के प्रारंभिक इतिहास में मील का पत्थर बना दिया गया। मणि कौल की "उसकी रोटी' एक दूसरा मील का पत्थर थी। 

समांतर सिनेमा के दो सिरे थे- एक सिरे पर "भुवन शोम', "सारा आकाश' (बासु चटर्जी) "गर्म हवा' (एमएस सत्यू), "अंकुर' (श्याम बेनेगल) आदि थीं जिनमें सिनेमा के मुख्य गुणों को पूरी तरह से छोड़ नहीं दिया गया था। दूसरे सिरे पर "उसकी रोटी', "माया दर्पण', "दुविधा' (मणि कौल) आदि फिल्में थीं जो सिनेमा की प्रचलित परिभाषा से काफी दूर थीं।राय ने 1971 में "एन इंडियन न्यू वेव?' नाम से एक लंबे लेख में विश्व सिनेमा को ध्यान में रख कर भारतीय समांतर सिनेमा पर सवाल उठाये थे। सन् 1974 में उन्होंने "फोर ऐंड ए क्वार्टर' नाम से अपने एक दूसरे लेख में "गर्म हवा', "माया दर्पण', "दुविधा', "अंकुर' पर लिखा था। "क्वार्टर' से उनका आशय चित्रकार तैयब मेहता की लघु फिल्म "कूडल' से था, जिसे वे मकबूल फिदा हुसेन की बर्लिन महोत्सव में पुरस्कृत फिल्म "थ्रू द आइज ऑफ ए पेंटर' से बेहतर मानते थे- फिल्म भाषा की पकड़ के कारण। लेकिन उन्होंने मणि कौल और कुमार शहानी की फिल्म भाषा को लेकर कुछ गंभीर प्रश्न उठाये। राय इस भाषा से आश्वस्त नहीं थे।"भुवन शोम' के बारे में राय की टिप्पणी गौर करने लायक और दिलचस्प है। राय के अनुसार, "भुवन शोम' में सिनेमा के कई लोकप्रिय तत्त्वों का इस्तेमाल किया गया था- एक "आनंददायक' नायिका, कर्णप्रिय बैकग्राउंड संगीत और सरल संपूर्ण इच्छापूरक पटकथा (सात अंग्रेजी के शब्द में "बिग बैड ब्यूरोक्रेट रिफॉर्म्ड बाइ रस्टिक बैले')। यानी एक अक्खड़ अफसर को ग्रामीण सुंदरी ने सुधार दिया। लेकिन "भुवन शोम' को पहली "ऑफ बीट' फिल्म मान लिया गया। इस फिल्म को थोड़े बहुत दर्शक मिले। "भुवन शोम', "गर्म हवा', "अंकुर' ऐसी फिल्में नहीं थीं जिन्हें देखकर दर्शक "अपना सर पकड़ कर' बाहर आये। "गाइड' (जो निश्चय ही हिंदी सिनेमा की एक उपलब्धि है) के निर्देशक विजय आनंद मुंबई के मैट्रो सिनेमा में अंतरराष्ट्रीय फिल्म महोत्सव के दौरान एक फिल्म छोड़कर अपना सर पकड़े बाहर आये और कॉफी पी रहे थे। उन्होंने इन पंक्तियों के लेखक से यह टिप्पणी की थी। 

एक बार कोलकाता के अंतरराष्ट्रीय फिल्मोत्सव में तुर्की फिल्मकार इलमाज गुने की फिल्म देखकर बाहर आये फिल्मकार सईद मिर्जा ने इन पंक्तियों के लेखक से कहा था, "यह सीधे दिल से निकला सिनेमा है।' यानी फिल्म का "सर-पकड़' होना उसकी खासियत नहीं है। सत्तर के दशक में सईद मिर्जा उन फिल्मकारों में से थे जो समांतर सिनेमा के बेहतर प्रतिनिधि थे। वे सीधे दिल से निकले सिनेमा के पक्षधर थे।सत्यजित राय ने एक और महत्वपूर्ण टिप्पणी की थी। उनका कहना था कि जेम्स ज्वॉयस सरीखा आधुनिक अंग्रेजी लेखक अपने उपन्यास "यूलीसिस' में कठिन अभिव्यक्ति का जो जोखिम उठा सकता है, वह एक फिल्मकार नहीं उठा सकता। "यूलीसिस' में लेखक "फ्लड ऑफ वार्म जिमजैम लिकिटप सीक्रेटनेस फ्लोड टु लिक फ्लो इन म्यूजिक आउट, इन डिजायर, डार्क टु लिक फ्लो, इनवेडिंग' सरीखे वाक्य लिख सकता है क्योंकि पाठक इस भाषा की बारीकियों को समझने के लिए दुबारा-तिबारा इस वाक्य को पढ़ सकता है। वह आसानी से किताब बंद कर और खोल सकता है। "लेकिन एक फिल्म दर्शक का समय उसका अपना समय नहीं है।' प्रति सेकेंड 24 फ्रेम उसे देखने होते हैं। आप वापस नहीं आ सकते हैं। 

यह सही है कि आज डीवीडी सरीखे माध्यम ने समांतर सिनेमा को भी एक तरह की पुस्तक का दर्जा दे दिया है। आप पीछे लौट सकते हैं, दृश्य या प्रसंग दुबारा देख सकते हैं, फिल्म को किताब की तरह आलमारी में रख सकते हैं। लेकिन 1971 में यह सुविधा उपलब्ध नहीं थी।बहरहाल, समांतर सिनेमा की मुख्य पहचान कम बजट, फेस्टिवल के जागरूक दर्शक (एक बातचीत में प्रकाश झा ने एक बार जिन्हें फोकट का दर्शक मानकर अपना गुस्सा दिखाया था), प्रयोगधर्मी पटकथा, प्रतिबद्ध अभिनेता (आज नसीर, ओम पुरी, शबाना में भी पुरानी प्रतिबद्धता नहीं है) आदि थे। उन दिनों कम बजट का मतलब ढाई-तीन लाख रुपये था। जब सत्तर के दशक के मध्य में यह कम बजट सात-आठ लाख रुपये हो गया, तो मलयाली फिल्मकार जी अरविंदन ने एक प्रेस कॉनफ्रेंस में यह बताया, "मैं जो सिनेमा बनाता हूं वह एक लाख के बजट का सिनेमा है।' यह भी गौर करने की बात है कि जब हिंदी में समांतर सिनेमा बनना शुरू हुआ, तो फिल्मकारों ने मोहन राकेश, निर्मल वर्मा, राजेंद्र यादव, मन्नू भंडारी, रमेश बक्षी, विनोद कुमार शुक्ल, धर्मवीर भारती सरीखे लेखकों की रचनाओं को चुना। नयी लहर को नयी कहानी का सहारा चाहिए था। लेकिन फ्रांसीसी नयी धारा के सबसे चर्चित नाम जां लु गोदार अपनी पटकथा के लिए श्रेष्ठ लेखक खोजने में कोई खास विश्वास नहीं करते थे। खराब रचना उन्हें ज्यादा विचार देती थी। गोदार कहते थे मेरी फिल्म में प्रारंभ, मध्य और अंत होता है लेकिन जरूरी नहीं कि उसका "ऑर्डर' भी यही हो। अंत शुरू में भी हो सकता है। एक महिला रेस्तरां से बाहर आकर एक आदमी की हत्या कर देती है लेकिन पूरी फिल्म में उस प्रसंग का कोई और संदर्भ नहीं आयेगा। कहने का अर्थ यह है कि सिनेमा में भी प्रयोगधर्मी लेखक सरीखी स्वतंत्रता लेने की कई सफल-असफल कोशिशें की गयी हैं। उसमें व्यावसायिकता की मुख्य शर्तों को कई बार कई तरह से नकारा गया है। लेकिन दुर्भाग्यवश (या सौभाग्यवश) फिल्म एक फिल्म है। वह एक महंगा माध्यम है और आज अनुराग कश्यप सरीखे (आज के तंत्र के मणि कौल) फिल्मकार भी कुछ करोड़ रुपये के बजट में ही फिल्म बना सकते हैं।

ऐतिहासिक दृष्टि से देखें, तो समांतर सिनेमा की मृत्यु भले ही बरसों पहले घोषित की जा चुकी हो लेकिन वह पूरी तरह से मरा नहीं है। दुनिया भर में वह जीवित है। ईरान, तुर्की, दक्षिण कोरिया में भी वह जीवित है। भारत में भी श्याम बेनेगल, अडूर गोपालकृष्णन, बुद्धदेव दासगुप्त और गौतम घोष सरीखे नाम प्रतिकूल वातावरण के बावजूद "रिटायर' नहीं हो गये हैं। लेकिन आज सरकारी स्रोतों से कभी वापस न करने वाला उधार लेकर फोकट के दर्शकों के लिए फिल्में बनाना मुश्किल हो गया है। टेलीविजन ने विदेश में समांतर फिल्मकारों को अच्छे बजट दिये हैं। उसके अच्छे नतीजे भी सामने आये हैं। भारत में लेकिन टेलीविजन का अधिक पतन हुआ है।वापस साठ और सत्तर के दशक के माहौल में जायें, तो "सारा आकाश' में बासु चटर्जी ने जो सादगी दिखायी थी, उसके बल पर वे लंबे समय तक ऐसी फिल्में बनाते रहे जो कम से कम रिलीज हो जाती थीं और समांतर सिनेमा की जटिलता से दूर रहना पसंद करती थीं।

 अवतार कौल ने "27 डाउन' में कुछ आशाएं जगायी थीं लेकिन उनका असमय निधन हो गया। सत्यू "गर्म हवा' के बाद भी फिल्में बनाते रहे, लेकिन पहली फिल्म में जो ताकत थी, जो प्रामाणिक और मार्मिक माहौल था, वह बाद में नहीं देखने को मिला। बसु भट्टाचार्य की "तीसरी कसम' भी इसी परंपरा की फिल्म है।सन् 1970 में पट्टभी राम रेड्डी की फिल्म "संस्कार' ने सिनेमा के नये द्वार खोले। बीवी कारंत (चोमन दुडी) गिरीश कार्नाड (काडू), जी अरविंदन (कांचन सीता, चिदंबरम्), एमटी वासुदेवन नायर (निर्मालयम्) अडूर गोपालकृष्णन (एलीपतायम), शाजी करुण (पीरवी) सरीखे फिल्मकारों ने समानांतर सिनेमा को कई सार्थक फिल्में दीं। मणि कौल, सईद मिर्जा, कांतिलाल राठौर, गिरीश कासरवल्ली, गौतम घोष, बुद्धदेव दासगुप्त, केतन मेहता, प्रकाश झा, कुंदन शाह आदि फिल्मकार अपने-अपने ढंग से समांतर सिनेमा के महत्वपूर्ण नाम साबित हुए। जाह्नू बरुआ ने असमिया सिनेमा को नयी दिशा दी। कुछ व्यावसायिक लहरों की चपेट में आ गये (प्रकाश झा, केतन मेहता), कुछ आखिर तक अपनी शर्तों का सिनेमा बनाते रहे (मणि कौल) और कुछ आज भी अलग तरह के अर्थपूर्ण सिनेमा का सपना देख रहे हैं। "दुविधा', "नौकर की कमीज' (मणि कौल), "भूमिका', "सूरज का सातवां घोड़ा' (श्याम बेनेगल), "पार' (गौतम घोष), "एलिपतायम्, मुखामुखम्' (अडूर) "चिदंबरम्' (अरविंदन) "पीरवी' (शाजी), "मिर्च मसाला' (केतन मेहता), "बाघ बहादुर', "दूरत्व' (बुद्धदेव दासगुप्त), "अलबर्ट पिंटो को गुस्सा क्यों आता है', "नसीम' (सईद मिर्जा), "जाने भी दो यारो' (कुंदन शाह), "घटश्राद्ध' (गिरीश कासखल्ली) आदि फिल्मों की एक लंबी सूची है जो समांतर सिनेमा की उल्लेखनीय उपलब्धियां हैं। ऐसा नही है कि समांतर सिनेमा भारत में मर गया है, लेकिन कम बजट में बेहतर फिल्म बनाने का सपना जरूर मुश्किल हो गया है। पहले भी मुश्किल था। आज सिनेमा बनाने का तंत्र महंगाई का बुरी तरह से शिकार है, लेकिन फिल्म को किताब की तरह देखने वाले फिल्मकार सौभाग्यवश पूरी तरह से गायब नहीं हुए हैं। 
(द पब्लिक एजेण्डा से साभार)

Monday, February 27, 2012

The IPTA Effect in the Hindi Cinema of the Fifties & Sixties (Last Part)

This article was first published in the journal ‘South Asian Cinema’ edited by Lalit Joshi. Issue no. 6, 2005. This issue is entitled ‘The Left in Cinema’. 
Author : Prof. Rashmi Doraiswami, 

Jamia Millia Islamia,Delhi

IPTA talent was likewise involved at various levels in the adaptation of Russian literary classics: Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar (1946), inspired by Gorky’s Lower Depths, Chetan Anand’s comedy, Afsar (1950), for Navketan, based on Nikolai Gogol’s The Inspector General, and Ramesh Saigal’s Phir Subah Hogi (1958) based on a loose adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  Sahir Ludhianvi wrote two outstanding songs for Phir Subah Hogi, set to memorable music by Khayyam.  Of these, the rousing song of optimism, ‘Woh Subah Kabhi to Aayegi’ probably remains the most wasted song in the history of Hindi cinema for its unimaginative picturisation. Mala Sinha, who has just suffered an outrage to her modesty, lies supine in Raj Kapoor’s lap and for most of the duration of the song, Kapoor caresses her, crushing her ears crudely in his hands.  The other song, ‘Chino-Arab hamara’ is widely considered to be Sahir’s parody of Iqbal’s Saare Jahaan se Achcha, which had been set to music by Ravi Shankar. It also, however, punctures the global vision of Mera Joota Hai Japani, positing that our national achievements economically hardly measure up to our achievements as a non-aligned power. A harsh critique in the ironic mode of the existing socio-economic conditions, the song is comparable to Ludhianvi’s Jinhe naaz hai Hind par woh kahan hai? in Pyaasa. While both songs express deep disillusionment, the latter is searing in its direct references to the disease and rot in society; the first is ironic, with black humour. Chino-arab is also interesting for the way it has been composed by Khayyam: the song unfolds on an even keel, almost as if the singer is talking without any rise in the tune to support arguments. The even keel only increases the impact of the laconic words.

Pressure Points
Apart from an ideological horizon to which the IPTA contributed, the ‘IPTA-effect’ can also be felt as ‘pressure points’ in the text. These pressure points may manifest themselves in the acting, with a pull towards realism, as in the case of Balraj Sahni’s performances in Do Bigha Zameen and Kabuliwala (1961).  It also manifested itself in the themes chosen and their treatment. Bimal Roy, for instance, took up themes of untouchability (Sujata), women who commit crimes under stress (Bandini), adaptations that show the transition in epochs and values (Devdas / 1955), in a humanist, reformist vein. Parakh (1960) is Roy’s most didactic film, articulating a view on nation-building by IPTA artistes. The story and music were by Salil Choudhury and the dialogues and lyrics by Shailendra. The film sketches a host of characters of a village, including a postmaster who receives no letters and a philanthropist businessman who wants to give away a large sum of money to the village for its development. To give away the money to an honest and reliable person, he comes disguised as the postmaster’s assistant to the village.  Here he meets the typical characters of the village: the trouble-making priest, the cunning landowner farmer, the young dedicated school-teacher…. Development and governance can only be entrusted to those who work with selfless dedication for the common good.

Lyrics and Music
Lyrics and music created the other major pressure points in a film text, creating islands of excessive radical signification. Pyaasa’s (1957) critique of bourgeois values can hardly be evoked without a reference to the crucial role Sahir Ludhianvi’s poetry plays in the film.

The lyricists associated with the PWA and IPTA wrote songs in a variety of genres, often lending the song that emotion of excess that deepened the narrative with an ideological colouring.  These included the lyrics of nationalism. One of the most popular and evocative songs in this genre is Aye mere pyare vatan from Kabuliwala, written by Prem Dhawan. This song, written for a film about a Pathan from Kabul who comes to India to earn money, not only poignantly evokes the sense of separation from the homeland, but also draws on a long tradition of viewing the vatan, the homeland as mother, as beloved, as religious shrine. This repertoire of images about one’s native land seems to have existed all the way from India to Central Asia. The other popular song in this genre was Kar chale hum fida jano-tan saatiyon, Ab tumhare hawale vatan saathiyon by Kaifi Azmi (Haqeeqat/ 1964). There was also the deep commitment to secularism which resulted in songs such as Tu hindu banega na musalman banega, insaan ki aulad hai, insaan banega (Sahir Ludhianvi in Dhool ka Phool / 1959).

Since the collective was valourised, community songs and songs that roused people to collective action were almost essential songs in films these lyricists worked on. There was a wide spectrum of such songs that included those related to professions such as Apni kahani chod ja or Hariyala sawan dhol bajata aaya (Do Bigha Zameen), Saathi haath badhana (Naya Daur), folk songs - Daiya re daiya re, chad goyo paapi  bichua (Madhumati), songs from the bazaar tradition Pan khaye saiyan hamaro (Teesri Kasam, produced by Shailendra / 1966), and those that evoked a region: Jhoot boleya koi na by Shailendra in Jagte Raho. Songs that evoke collectivity in this manner have almost disappeared from the Hindi cinema, which now are only choreographed as group aerobics. The complex and sensuous dancing by Vyjantimala in Zulmi sangh aankh lagi or the Bichua song in Madhumati, evoke the different levels of the hillside with its planar choreography.
It is of interest that the two lyricists who are widely acknowledged as the poet among lyricists (Sahir Ludhianvi) and the lyricist poet, who understood the specificity of writing a film song as distinct from a literary poem (Shailendra23) had both passed through the influence of the progressive movement.
There was also a subversion of genres of song or their hybridization. Women prisoners in a jail in Bandini sing Ab ke baras bhejo… (by Shailendra), metonymically condensing the prison and sasural (the house of the in-laws for a married woman), creating a hybrid image of a space away from the maternal home. This hybridization is also evident in communitarian song of the chawl - Ajab tori duniya (Do Bigha Zameen) sung in the tempo of a bhajan, but with a complaint that is political: ‘Ho ke hamari hui nahin hamari, alag tori duniya o more rama. The same is true of Kaifi Azmi’s Tu hi sagar hai tu hi kinara, Dundhta hai tu kiska sahara which uses the paradoxical contraries that traditionally describe god (sagar, kinara) to describe man. The first line of the song seems to be addressed to god, but the second posits an opposite point of view, for the addressee is man.

This was not to imply that lyricists who had been under the impact of the progressive movement did not also write songs of the self in the context of alienation. Kaifi Azmi’s Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam (Kaagaz ke Phool / 1959), Sahir Ludhianvi’s Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya  and Kabhi khud pe kabhi haalat pe rona aaya (Hum Dono / 1961) belong to this register. Ashraf Aziz finds a trace of Shailendra’s death wish even in his love-songs:

“At approximately the midpoint of his career as a lyricist, we find metronomic timing devices in his lyrics – as if he was counting his days on earth.  … in Madhumati, he wrote:

Ghari, ghari mera dil dharke
Hai dharke, kyun dharke

Dil tarap tarap ke keh raa hai aa bhi ja,
Dil dharak dharak ke

He used the words ghari (= watch, moment, stage of the day or night), dharak and tarap as if they were the chimes of the clock of his life”. Shailendra, in fact, uses the contrary paradox in his lyrics very often a sense of the split and the loss in the self when in love: Main nadiyan, phir bhi main pyaasi, bhed yeh gehra, baat zara si (Aaja re pardesi in Madhumati);  Jeevan bhar ka naata pardesiyon se joda, aap gayi piya sangh, mujhe kya choda (Gira hai kisi ka jhumka in Parakh).

The genres of music drawn on were equally diverse: folk, modern and classical from India and abroad. According to Jitendra Raghuvanshi,  “Modern chorus singing was developed by IPTA”. This was in keeping with the IPTA resolve to use simple and direct means to present to the masses the solutions to the problems facing them: “A revival of the folk arts, mass singing, open air stage are specially desirable for this purpose”.

While the chorus signified the collective so important to the thought of the progressive movement, it was used both literally and metaphorically in songs in cinema, to denote actual or imagined communities. One of the most radical uses of the chorus is in the song Jaago Mohan Pyare in Jagte Raho. The song summarises the play of night and day in the film along with its signification of ignorance and fear (night) and confidence (day). The song is a rousing one (particularly in the portions sung by the chorus in which the strong influence of the  IPTA can be felt), but also in the mode of a bhajan, of a prabhati song, that is, a song sung at dawn and addressed to god, the ‘dear one’. The devotional and revolutionary modes thus come together in this unique song. The metonymic shift from god to the simple protagonist is evident, urging him to know the new age and his own strength.

The sound design of Madhumati too has the chorus of women humming woven into it. While the first chorus of women when the title roll, is scary and haunting, it later creates a sense of the hill community of women, of an enduring  presence, of an other-worldly call in the hillside. As Dilip Kumar’s memory gets activated and he begins to recall his past life, it is the choral humming and Madhumati calling out ‘Babuji’ that takes us to a time gone by. The prologue to the song, Suhana safar aur yeh mausam haseen, has several sounds that underline the beauty of the journey, its pastoral  idyllic nature: the chirping of birds is woven into an orchestration that sounds like a chorus, which then passes on to women humming in chorus, creating a sound perspective; birds chirping, followed by the shepherd’s call to move the sheep along, is followed by Mukesh’s voice starting the song right on beat.

Keep Awake, Keep Alert
Shambhu Mitra’s Jagte Raho27 (1956) deals with the nation metonymically through the building complex. The house and its rooms holding within it the different times of the nation within itself, was also used in Sahib Bibi Ghulam (1962) and in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1974). In Jagte Raho, the housing colony is used to effectively put across the idea of keeping alert and defending the new nation from internal enemies. A migrant, the poor son of a farmer, enters a housing complex looking for water to drink. The inmates take him to be a thief and organise themselves into a group, to search the houses and capture the thief. The community here is thus bound together only spatially and not through any profession.

The inhabitants’ ‘army’ sets out to look for the thief and the police, too join in. A panorama of nefarious activities that go on, under the cover of respectability is uncovered: the brewing of illicit liquor, printing of counterfeit notes, the ill treatment of women, the murderous intentions of the corrupt rich and their lackey accomplices. The inhabitants of the block, with all their intended aggressivity and their vigilance are ineffective in catching the real culprits, the anti-social elements within their own fold.  The poor ‘thief’ who is being hounded is unwittingly the witness to all these illegal activities. He is the contramodern flaneur, the country simpleton walking through a building block in the city, in fear and wonder. He is mute and terrified and on the run because of fear; but in an effective reversal breaks into speech when the crowd catches him. He addresses it stating his innocence and speaks out against the corruption he has witnessed. This is a crucial moment in the narrative when the protagonist bursts into speech, a specific moment of the subaltern speaking. What is of interest here is that after his speech, he does not cease to be hounded by the crowd. It is almost as if his conscience rousing words have had no impact.  But it is precisely his role as unwitting witness and as conscience-keeper of a nation that the film as a whole emphasises. The trial sequence has an important space in the narrative of the Hindi film because the moment of breaking silence and speaking out occurs here. Compare this scene with the courtroom sequence in Awaara where the same actor (Raj Kapoor) speaks out against his father, the Law and the elite who do not take cognisance of the parallel ‘society of the gutter’.

This is an important dramatic moment in the narrative for it works as an agent that moves the narrative forward. This is more often than not, in the Hindi film, in its most potent manifestations, the moment of the subaltern  not just speaking, but speaking out against injustice. Jagte Raho in this respect is unique among Hindi films, not just with its engagement with social realism, but also in that this moment of speaking out does not prove to be an agent of change. The passive and silent observer speaks and the crowd continues to hound him as before. It is only in the end that he moves out of the building block having evolved to a new consciousness of himself, without having changed either the people around him, or his surroundings. His new-found timid confidence is also a silent one, unarticulated!  Though he is not an agent of change, he has, in all innocence, disrupted a whole range of nefarious activities, not through active intervention, but by merely being an unwitting witness, a ‘passive disrupter’. The police finally arrest the counterfeiters and black marketers. It is a compassionate child whom the protagonist encounters in one of the flats he accidentally enters when on the run, who tells him to be fearless. At dawn a woman in the nearby temple finally offers him the water he was thirsting for all night.  The innocent but wise child and the spiritual woman are thus his ‘saviours’.

 Night and day are very effectively used to show the emergence from hopelessness to hope in this film directed by Shambu Mitra, an eminent theatre personality and IPTA activist. The dialogues were by K. A. Abbas, lyrics by Shailendra and Prem Dhawan and music by Salil Choudhury. The film has few songs but all are extremely well-placed. ‘Koi na, bhai koi na’ is a robust counterpoint to nocturnal goings-on, and ‘Zindagi khwab hai’ by one of he drunken residents questions what the meaning of truth or falsehood is, when all of life is a dream. These are satirical in spirit. The last song, ‘Jaago mohan pyare’ sung at dawn and picturised on Nargis, her last ever appearance with Raj Kapoor in a film after their off-screen break-up, epitomises the hope for a nation through the presence of the bumbling, but honest simpleton.  At dawn, this unnamed citizen walks away from the nightmare of being thought a ‘thief’ and the housing complex towards the nearby temple where the song is being sung.  The songs in the film, in fact, play a role very different from the role they traditionally perform in the Hindi film. They are all sung by characters who play important roles in the chapters in the unfolding of narrative: a group of sikhs, a drunken man and the worshipping woman; but they are not sung by the protagonist. The songs carry within themselves a greater understanding of social forces and life – satirical, ironical, devotional and revolutionary – than is invested in any of the characters, including the protagonist. This decentring of narrative energies is very unusual for a Hindi film: the viewer moves towards a larger perspective on the events that have taken than does any of the characters, who at best have partial visions.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Ritwik Ghatak and Bimal Roy
Ritwik Ghatak remains a key IPTA figure in the cinema of the fifties in more ways than one. Making films in Bengal he created a new aesthetic parallel to the realism practiced by Ray in which many time-frames alluded to each other spanning myths and contemporaneity in sensuous melody and drama. He also worked in Bombay. He is credited with the story of Bimal Roy’s Madhumati (1958) and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Musafir (1957). Madhumati, in fact, transforms Ghatak’s fascination with multiple time-frames into the popular mode. This is a story of rebirth, encapsulating the encounter of the different times of the tribal, the feudal and the modern, much in the same way that Ajantrik (1958), Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960) or Subarnarekha (1962) do. Memory that recalls past social formations in a continuum with contemporaneity is woven into a complex but popular narrative, bringing together the IPTA talents of Ghatak, Bimal Roy, Shailendra and Salil Choudhury. There is also a paradoxical insistence on the materiality of memory. ‘Is duniya mein koi cheez nahin mithti’, says Madhumati. The film is about the continuance and passage of the material spirit in the bodies of Dilip Kumar and Vyjantimala through tribal, feudal and modern selves. The talents of Ghatak and Roy in the framing and picturisation of songs is amply evident through the film. Suhana safar aur yeh mausam haseen in Madhumati in many ways foresees the wonderful song picturised in Ghatak’s Komal Gandhar (1961): ‘Aakash Bhora’.  In both songs the protagonist gazes at the hillside and sings with wonder at the beauty of nature and his oneness with it. In Bandini, Bimal Roy uses sound in a manner that is remniscent of Ghatak. Sound passes from literality to the realm of the symbolic. Just as the crackle of rice boiling and cooking comes to signify Nita’s mother’s machinations in fixing up Gita’s marriage in Meghe Dhaka Tara, so does Roy use the three-leveled sound of a train whistle and iron being hammered in two different tones in the sequence succeeding the death of the heroine’s father, in which she realizes that the husband of the woman under treatment in the hospital is the man she had been in love with. Roy creates a design in which the sound reaches a pitch.  This is followed by silence and poison being poured; the iron sounds and whistle emerge again, to signify the excessive stress and trauma the heroine is going through, causing her to resort to murder. An incidental sound from the diegetic reality is thus ‘lifted’ to the realm of the symbolic. 

Bimal Roy’s contribution to a democratic cinema in the framework of the Bombay industry cannot be overemphasised.  He brought together several talents from the IPTA in his films. Ghatak,  Balraj Sahni, Salil Choudhury, Hemant Kumar Mukherjee, Hemen Gupta, private secretary to Subhash Chandra Bose and a radical, whose Kabuliwala (1961) he produced. Ashraf Aziz speaks of Shailendra’s contribution to Roy’s films: “Yet another significant influence on the young Shailendra was Bimal Roy; the lyrics of Do Bigha Zamin (1953), Madhumati (1958) and Bandini (1963) were principally written by Shailendra and given musical form by Salil Choudhury and S. D. Burman. All Bimal Roy’s movies were drenched in melancholy and anguish; the selection of Shailendra to give poetic expression to Bimal Roy’s subdued, autumnal and frequently fatalistic films was entirely appropriate. Also to the point was the fact that the plots of these films unfolded in the Ganges basin or neighbouring areas whose ethos Shailendra understood only too well”.

The coming together of IPTA concerns (the economic travails of the peasant with the small land-holding) and neo-realist cinema is clearly felt in Do Bigha Zameen (1953). If war-torn Italy, or post-War Italy were the themes dealt with in neo-realist cinema, Roy concentrated on the fate of the displaced and the dispossessed. In Do Bigha Zameen, it is drought and indebtedness that leads the lead protagonist, a farmer with a small holding, played by Balraj Sahni, to migrate to the city in search of work. The rich farmer, plans to sell off land to builders; Balraj Sahni’s little plot comes in the way. The love of the farmer for his small piece of land and his attachment to it, causes him to refuse selling it, despite his indebtedness. He goes to the city in search of work and becomes a rickshaw puller. The whole family has to shift to the city; the land is taken over because he has not been able to pay his debts. Balraj Sahni imparts a sense of realism through his acting, which creates a counter-balance to situations which are often melodramatic in essence. What the film shares in common with the neo-realist vision, is the focus on the dispossessed, including the children, and the submergence of the individual fate under the large indifference of the city. What it shares with the Hindi cinema of the time is the creation of the ideal community of subalterns, in the peasant community in the village, as well as a small city within the city. The communitarian ethos of the peasants is expressed mainly through songs choreographed by Prem Dhawan: ‘Apni kahani chod ja’, in which as Balraj Sahni leaves his village the farmers sing and engage in different kinds of labour and the joyous rain song after drought ‘Hariyali sawan dhol bajata aaya’. The ‘community’ in the city, in the chawl, is headed by a woman whose bark is worse than her bite. The film also remains focused on the fate of its lead protagonist; the loosening of the grip of what Deleuze calls ‘sensory-motor perception’, a dominant characteristic of neorealist cinema, is rare. The camera, observing from a distance, Pina’s death in Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945) and moving on, without the narrative lingering in any way on the death of one of its lead protagonists, is not to be found here. However, there is a moment of the loosening of the cause-effect cycle, when Meena Kumari, a well-to-do woman who helps the protagonist’s wife (Nirupa Roy) out, sings a lullaby, ‘Aaja ri aa, nindiya tu aa’, which Nirupa Roy, expecting her second child in impoverishment, listens to, in a break from the chores and worries of her life. 

Ideological Horizon
The IPTA had an extended influence, creating what Pavel Medvedev/Mikhail Bakhtin called an ‘ideological horizon’, which was broadly shared by members and well-disposed non-members alike. According to Medvedev/Bakhtin, every epoch has its own ideological environment. This environment is material, existing ‘between us’. All art forms occupy their own specific spaces in this environment. Every creative work signifies, reflects and refracts this ideological environment. Many ideological paths converge in this environment, creating an ideological horizon:  “The artist seeks that material which lies at the point where several ideological series intersect. The greater the number of intersecting ideological paths and the more varied their ideological interest, the more sharply the material is perceived. 

Within aspirations of the ideological horizon of every epoch, there is a value centre toward which all the paths and aspirations of ideological activity lead. This value centre becomes the basic theme or, more precisely, the complex of themes of the literature of a given epoch…. 
The ruling themes of every literary epoch are always those which pass through all the spheres of ideological creation….

Art, in being oriented toward the common value centre of the ideological horizon of the epoch, not only does not loose its specificity and individuality as a result, but, on the contrary, only reveals its full power in this way”. The ruling themes of the ideological horizon after Independence were three: Gandhian ideals of non-violence, social equality of castes/creeds and secularism; Nehruvianism defined above all by institution-building, and Marxism, with its focus on the problems of social justice to the working class and the poor peasantry and the need for unity and collective action. These three themes were themselves not monolithic, with clear-cut distinctions, but created a specific ideological horizon, in which the underprivileged, the dispossessed, the displaced, the marginal were the dominants. The Nehruvian vision which shaped the ideological horizon of the fifties, at least in the post-Independence institution building stage was itself not a monolithic vision. Given the presence of a Marxist line in Nehru’s thinking, its coming together with the IPTA line did make the ideological scales weigh down in favour of a left orientation in the horizon. Ralph Russell writing on the early years of the PWA notes that ‘… within months some of the most prominent writers of verse, prose-fiction and literary criticism had declared their sympathies for the movement, including not only those on the left, but Congressmen of predominantly Gandhian outlook …, and men of not very articulate political views at all. This wide support for a movement being formed by avowed communists looks more surprising in the 1970s than it did in the India of 1935. At that time a political climate was forming to which the nearest parallel the West can offer is perhaps provided by the years from mid-1941 to the end of the Second World War. In those years the necessities of the war against fascist Germany, Italy and Japan, fought in alliance with the Soviet Union and with a China in which nationalists and communists were formally in alliance, made communism respectable and evoked ardent expressions of radical populism from even the most unlikely quarters”.   This explains the orientation of the narratives towards the dispossessed and the displaced in the films of the fifties, contributing to the ‘gold’ of the ‘golden era’. 

  A song like ‘Mera joota hai japani’ (Shailendra / Shri 420 /1955) could only be born of a vision in which there was a knowledge of the world outside, of an anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggle, and a pride in India’s new, independent, non-aligned position within it. Even in a film like Naya Daur (1957), that calls for a Gandhian negotiation in the installation of machines in the place of man-power, there is a rousing call to collective action in Sahir Ludhianvi’s song ‘Saathi haath badhana’. As M.S. Sathyu points out, “At the time of independence and after that, there was a lot of hope in the country. There was a dedicated leadership in the country. If that failed, people still had an alternative in the Left, which was really strong, and was the largest party after the Congress. However, in the course of a decade towards or so, both the socialists and the communists split within their own parties and became splinter groups”.

The other significant aspect of this ideological horizon was the very notion of  ‘the people’16. The word ‘people’ in the Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association stood for the modest and small-landed peasantry, the working class, the middle-class on the threshold of slipping into lower socio-economic strata. Malini Bhattacharya observes that “It is surprising that today one hears of ‘proletarian theatre’ or ‘socialist theatre’, but not of people’s ‘theatre’. Surely it is only through the realization of the idea of a people’s theatre that one can even come to contemplate the subsequent phases”. This notion of ‘people’ prevalent in the practice of a progressive theatre was also present in the cinema of the post-independence period, contributing to its ‘golden’ aura. “ ‘People’s theatre’ had aimed to establish a cultural link among various social strata, into which, in a  class society the ‘people’ are divided. There are wide cultural gaps and even contradictions between them; yet in a semi-feudal society, the lives and the interests of the urban middle class, the urban working class and the various ranges within the agricultural population from the rich peasant to the agricultural labour have at least a minimum of common ingredients which alone can serve as the basis of a ‘people’s theatre’”. It is this point of view of the subaltern on society and social justice that directs the narrative drive of the films of the fifties.

The Raj Kapoor persona in his home productions and the Dev Anand persona in the Navketan productions of the fifties and sixties in fact bring together different energies of the ‘people’. These are ‘composite’ personae, with many significations in one character. Raj Kapoor’s ‘Raj’ in his films, for instance, stood for the ‘global dispossessed’ (Chaplinesque tramp), an outsider to the city (migrant from a small town or village, who knows not the ways of the city) and marginal (lives in the chawls). It is probably the benign coming together of the global and the local, the rustic, the outsider, who quickly adapts to the city, but insists on his ethical values, that audiences in socialist states, states under the yoke of colonialism, and newly independent nations responded to intuitively, and made Kapoor’s films of the fifties so popular abroad, in different continents. Dev Anand’s modernity was of a different order: social marginal, but insider to the city and street smart, best exemplified in Navketan’s Baazi, Kala Bazaar (1960) and Taxi Driver (1954). His body does not carry the imprint of rural India, or the small town. Baazi was as important a narrative as Awaara, in charting the narrative of the desperate underdog, pushed to the wall, who takes to a life of crime to get ahead in life.  If Raj in Awaara (1951) is inscribed in mythic and social references and arguments, and experiences the dilemma of choices, the protagonist of Baazi, is unfettered by such mythic and moral dilemmas and consequently has a nervous edginess that the Raj Kapoor persona lacks. 

All this is not to attribute to IPTA an originary role in moulding the narratives of the fifties and sixties. On the contrary. It is as if a matrix of viewpoints existed that engendered different narratives. Often the more radical viewpoints were subsumed into a reformist or institution-building ending, but not before the subaltern / the marginal / the criminal spoke at a trial – literal or metaphoric – that had the feel of a ‘people’s court’. The climactic scenes in Raj Kapoor’s Awaara and Jagte Raho (produced by him and directed by Shambhu Mitra) immediately come to mind here. At the crucial moment of speech and address, to the people as well as to their conscience, a passionate plea is made for social justice. The film-text, therefore, has many pressure points that encapsulate the different articulations of the ideological horizon, Nehruvian, Gandhian, and Marxist.  


Friday, February 17, 2012


This article was first published in the journal ‘South Asian Cinema’ edited by Lalit Joshi. Issue no. 6, 2005. This issue is entitled ‘The Left in Cinema’. 

The movements launched by the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) in 1936 and the Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association (IPTA) in 1943 were some of the most significant mass cultural movements in twentieth century India. Their effects were felt not only in the fields of literature and theatre, but also in the Bombay cinema of the time. They also exerted an influence on the Indian New Wave Cinema.

The movements were launched when, on the one hand, the struggle for Indian independence, had reached a peak, and on the other, the forces of fascism in the Second World War were knocking on the doors of the Soviet Union. The anti-imperialist struggle was linked to the anti-fascist struggle. The draft resolution of the IPTA conference in 1943 states: “The immediate  problems facing the people are external aggression by the Fascist hordes who are the deadliest enemies of freedom and culture; internal repression by an alien Government which seeks to hold our people in subjection and prevent them from organizing an effective defense of their homeland; rapid disintegration of the entire economic life of our people and particularly the havoc wrought on the morale and the health of our people by the shortage of food and other essential articles; and lastly the absence of sufficient unity among the people’s forces which alone can compel the imperialist to retire, stop the economic disintegration of the country and defeat the Fascist aggressors”.
Despite the fact that the movement developed in leaps and bounds across the country, it had begun to lose its all-India character by the end of the fifties. The reasons for the dissolution of this vibrant movement by 1958 were many. According to Sudhi Pradhan,“The foreign policy of the Government of India, which moved from a pro-American position to a non-aligned stance of great material advantage, managed to create confusion among Marxists, as did the internal policy of five-year plans and other ‘progressive’ measures. This made the parliamentary path seem an attractive alternative, but in turn created its own contradiction within the movement.
The second world conference of communist parties sought to make a compromise between the Soviet and Chinese paths, and this had repercussions on the cultural situation in India as well”. 

However, it is clear from the accounts available that there were many internal reasons as well for the disintegration of the movement. These reasons were ideological, organisational and inter-personal33 The ideological issues included, among several others, the combining of anti-fascist struggle with the anti-imperialist struggle, the urban-rural divide, reformism, revisionism…. Questions of aesthetics and technology were also debated. Utpal Dutt, for instance, has written on the use of folk traditions in productions which was actively encouraged by the IPTA: “Our political theatre has not even approached the problem of creating proletarian myths. … The recent common use of folk-elements, tales, songs – is all geared to comedy, and sound like parodies of the original…. By knocking out precisely that content and using only the score is to replace a vision with a slogan, to misuse folk-lore, to descend to formalism. Form and content are thoroughly integrated in folklore; to divide them is to kill it…. And that is precisely what has been thought worth preserving in the IPTA tradition. The lyrics have been replaced by problems of contemporary politics, invariably satirical, betraying the composer
’s petty bourgeois belief that folk-tunes can only be effective if used comically”. (‘On Proletarian Myths’ by Utpal Dutt in People’s Art in the Twentieth Century: Theory and Practice, Jan Natya Manch, July 1999-Sept. 2000, New  Delhi, p. 330.)
Utpal Dutta

Malini Bhattacharya also refers to the “…debate on technical excellence versus ‘simple and direct art for the people…’ (‘The IPTA in Bengal’, Malini Bhattacharya in Journal of Arts and Ideas, Jan-March, 1983, No. 2, p. 11). The documents point to several organizational problems as well: the functioning of the party-group within the IPTA, the level of intervention of the Party into the functioning of a cultural organization.!According to Pradhan, the movement could not sustain the very momentum it had unleashed. “The resurgence in folk art was thwarted by the built-in metropolitan bias in the IPTA, and the lack of politicization in the ranks of the folk artists and IPTA activists prevented the growth of organization” (MCMI, Vol III, p. vi). Ghatak in his On the Cultural ‘Front’: A Thesis Submitted to the Communist Party of India in 1954, expresses his resentment against ‘art-organisers’: “There is no such thing as Art-organisers; it is a monstrous tautology. No such job exists. The nature of the job indicates that only artistes can handle the job. Non-artistic Art-organisers will solve these problems to the exact extent that Eskimo hunting songs will rouse and guide Hottentots to revolutionary action!” (Ritwik Memorial Trust, Calcutta, 2000, p. 19).

A reading of the material also reveals the existence of interpersonal tensions based on functioning within the IPTA. There is, for instance, Ghatak’s criticism of Niranjan Sen and Nirmal Ghosh for conducting ‘hush-hush’ campaigns against artistes with the IPTA. “1952 was their target year for Utpal Dutta. This genuinely good and highly capable worker had his faults, as we all have, but he has been called an American agent, a Trotskyite…. The splitting of the communist movement through the sixties led to a splintering of the peoples’ theatre movement into group theatres, owing affiliation to one or the other of the Left parties, or having an independent Left disposition. The eighties saw the revival of the need for different groups active all over the country to re-forge the all-India character of the movement.

Chandreshwar in his Bharat Mein Jan-Natya Andolan (The Peoples’ Theatre Movement in India) divides the history of the peoples’ theatre movement into three phases: The first phase (1943-1947), which saw the birth and development of IPTA; the second phase (1948-1958) that encompassed the Indian peoples’ theatre movement after Independence; and the third phase which began in 1986, and continues till today. 

The Extent of Influence

Directors, actors, scriptwriters, lyricists, music directors and dance directors – a large spectrum of the talent that went into filmmaking – came from the IPTA, moulding the vision of the world that the film presented.6 In the IPTA documents on how to prepare for the VII Conference (1953), there is the following section: “Film: Since a large number of IPTA members and progressive writers and artistes are entering into the film world, due to the increasing demand of the people for healthy and realistic films, the present position of the film industry requires special study. 

Delegates specially from Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, who are most concerned with the industry, will form the main body of this Commission, papers for which should be prepared on the following broad lines: Condition of the industry today; how production and distribution are controlled; living conditions of film workers of all categories; Government policy and British and American influence; strength and influence of progressive trends inside the film industry; is there any organized functioning with definite outlook; what suggestions can be made so that Indian films can inspire the people; what should be the role of IPTA; how IPTA and progressive workers should work in the film industry and what should be the relation with their work in IPTA”. MCMI, Vol. II, pp. 106-107. 

Balraj Sahni
The documents of the inauguration also point to the active involvement of several leading film personalities in the IPTA: “Following the welcome address Producer-Director Bimal Roy, Chairman of the Reception Committee, the great dancer Uday Shankar declared the conference open amidst tremendous applause”.   “Following a Tagore song by Hemanta Mukherjee, the Conference was greeted by Sachin Sen Gupta, member of the Presidium”. Ibid, p. 158. . Among the well-known actors who had an allegiance to the IPTA were Balraj Sahni, A. K. Hangal, Utpal Dutt. Well-known music directors included Anil Biswas, Salil Choudhury, Hemant Kumar and Ravi Shankar; song writers Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Prem Dhawan, Shailendra, Kaifi Azmi were associated with the PWA and IPTA; scriptwriters K. A. Abbas and V. P. Sathe were IPTA members; directors Bimal Roy, Shambhu Mitra, Mohan Sehgal were closely involved with the IPTA, as were the dance directors Uday Shankar and Prem Dhawan (who choreographed songs in Do Bigha Zameen and Naya Daur).

  It is difficult to ‘quantify’ or ‘accurately measure’ the actual nature of the influence of the IPTA on the film industry. The reasons for this are many: Cinema is an industrial art form in which many economic factors, specialized skills and several individuals come together to produce a film. Moreover, the play of the public and private ideological positions taken by people who were associated with the IPTA, the dynamics of  personal beliefs and their translation into creative practice, are also important factors in the evaluation of the ‘IPTA-effect’.  However, it is possible to assume that whether they were members of the mass progressive movements or of the Communist party, whether they were with the movement for a short time or remained, like Kaifi Azmi, committed to Left ideals throughout their lives, the people who passed through the influence of the IPTA, did not easily forget the ideals it stood for in their cultural practice. The IPTA influence could also be felt in the works of filmmakers who were not members but were associated professionally with IPTA activists, such as Raj Kapoor who worked K. A. Abbas, V P Sathe and Shailendra; Guru Dutt who had studied dance under Uday Shankar, whose first film Baazi (1951) had script and dialogues by Balraj Sahni; and who had Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi and  Kaifi Azmi write the lyrics of his films; Vijay Anand and Dev Anand who with their brother, Chetan, set up Navketan…. 

During the riots that occurred at the time of Partition, K. A. Abbas describes how the IPTA, PWA and fifty other cultural organizations came together to remove the mental barriers that were  dividing Bombay into ‘Hindu Bombay’ and ‘Muslim Bombay’.  “The procession was a great success. We had different trucks – one with Prithviraj Kapoor, the doyen of the film industry, and his teenaged sons – Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor – beating the drum. The IPTA truck had Balraj Sahni  and Prem Dhawan and Chetan Anand and Dev Anand. The Urdu Progressive Writers were represented by Sajjad Zaheer, Ali Sardar Jafri, Kaifi Azmi, Sahir Ludhianvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri.

Kaifi Sahab with Shabana
There were my friends, V.P. Sathe and Inder Raj Anand and Manmohan Sabir”
The Indian New Wave in the ’70s in a sense took up the unfinished agenda of the nationalist movement. Casteism, the empowerment of women, the impoverished state of the peasantry, class struggles, communalism, collective action, the disenchanted middle-class – these were some of the issues that were taken up by this pan-Indian movement. The ‘people’ and their problems now found a more realistic representation in the New Wave cinema. Several artistes who had had links with the IPTA and the PWA were to energise this movement as well: Utpal Dutt (who starred in, among other films, in Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome, one of the three9 founding films of the movement which began in 1969); Bhisham Sahni (whose Tamas was made into a film by Govind Nihalani, and who acted in New Wave films such as Saeed Mirza’s Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho and Tamas); Balraj Sahni (who acted in IPTA activist M.S. Sathyu’s  Garam Hawa/1973), Kaifi Azmi who wrote the dialogues for Sathyu’s Garam Hawa and Kanneshwar Rama (1977) and Benegal’s Manthan (1976); Salil Choudhury who gave music for Basu Chatterjee’s Sara Akash (1969) and Ramu Kariat’s Chemeen, Ismat Chugtai on whose story Garam Hawa was based and who wrote the dialogues for Benegal’s Junoon (1978) and Shama Zaidi who worked with Satyajit Ray, Benegal and Sathyu on their films. 
K. A. Abbas’ links with the IPTA and his contribution to the Hindi cinema have been written about in detail:  “IPTA had a profound impact on the performing arts and many associated with it later joined films and contributed in giving a new dimension to cinema. Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, journalist, film critic, author, was one of the founder-members of IPTA. He wrote an autobiographical film Naya Sansar , about a journalist under pressure from business tycoons.  
 Abbas had another success when he persuaded  V. Shantaram,  who had himself pioneered a number of films of social concern, to produce a film based on his book, And One Did Not Come Back. The film Dr Kotnis ki Amar Kahani (1946) was about a medical mission which the Congress Party had sent to China. Abbas has many firsts to his credit. His Dharti ke Lal (1949), based on an IPTA play was the first realistic film on rural indebtedness and dispossessed peasantry shown in the context of the Bengal famine. Munna (1954) – the first Hindi film without songs or dances – was about a seven year old boy in a big city”.
The contribution of other IPTA activists to the Hindi cinema, however, are not as well documented. Again, while material is available on the contribution of Bengal  IPTA activists to the Indian New Wave cinema, less is written about the contribution, if any, from other regions.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

भिलाई और इप्टा

हम हैं चिराग़-ए-आखि़रे शब, पर हमारे बाद  उज़ाला है

-अशोक सिंघई

15 अगस्त, 1947 की सुबह भारत के लिये एक नया सूरज लेकर आई थी। सदियों की गुलामी की राजनैतिक जंजीरें टूट चुकी थीं। कृषि प्रधान देश के नवनिर्माण के लिये विश्वव्यापी औद्योगिक क्रांति से प्रभावित होकर नव स्वतंत्र राष्ट्र ने औद्योगिक  आधारभूत संरचना का निर्णय लिया। भारत ने तत्कालीन सोवियत संघ से हाथ मिलाये और भारी व प्रतिरक्षा उद्योगों की  आधारशिला रखी। इस्पात, आयुध एवं अंतरिक्ष अभियान इनमें प्रमुख थे। 2 फरवरी, 1955 में इनके लिये पूर्व सोवियत संघ से तकनीकी एवं आर्थक सहयोग के लिये समझौता हुआ।

छत्तीसगढ़ के पर्वत लोहे के ही बने समझे जाने चाहिये अतः सारे प्रयासों के बाद अंततः तत्कालीन मध्य प्रदेश के दुर्ग जिले के भिलाई को अयस्क-आधारित इस्पात कारखाने के लिये चुना गया जो भारत के औद्योगिक सफर का प्रस्थान-बिन्दु बना। एक अनजाने ग्रामीण मुरमीले क्षेत्र भिलाई में 2 फरवरी, 1955 को भारत-सोवियत समझौते के तहत 10 लाख टन उत्पादन क्षमता के इस्पात संयंत्र की आधारशिला रखी गई। मात्र चार वर्ष और दो दिन के बाद 4 फरवरी, 1959 को ब्लास्ट फर्नेस क्रमांक-1 से हॉट मेटल की धारा प्रवाहित होने लगी। संयंत्र परियोजना पूर्णता के इतिहास में यह आज भी एक विश्व कीर्तिमान है। भिलाई इसलिये भी विशेष महत्वपूर्ण है कि उसने वह मार्ग बनाया जो सहयोग के क्षेत्र में एक नये अन्तरराष्ट्रीय सहयोग के सफर की शुरुआत का गौरवशाली प्रतीक बना।

भिलाई देश के युवतम नगरों में से एक है। दुर्ग एक ऐतिहासिक शहर है, सदियों पुराना। अब इन्हें जुड़वा शहर कहा जाने लगा है। भिलाई की उम्र अभी साठ वर्ष की भी नहीं है। तमाम औद्योगिक गतिविधियों के मध्य आदर्श सामाजिक सांस्कृतिक जीवन अब भिलाई की एक और पहचान हो गई है। भिलाई छत्तीसगढ़ की पगड़ी है। वह कभी धूमिल नहीं हो सकती। भारत का ऐसा कोई प्रदेश नहीं है जहाँ के बाशिन्दे भिलाई में न बसे हों और अपनी प्रादेशिक अस्मिताओं को परवान न चढ़ा रहे हों। साहित्य, कला, संगीत, शिक्षा, रंगकर्म, लोककला आदि के क्षेत्र में समूचा भारत यहाँ समूपस्थित है। भिलाई में प्रतिभाओं के पनपने के लिये उन्मुक्त आकाश है। जिसके पर जितने मज़बूत हों वह उतना ही ऊपर उड़ सकता है। भिलाई में जर्रे से सितारा बनने की अनेक कथायें हैं। पद्मभूषण श्रीमती तीजन बाई, मूर्तिकार पद्मश्री नेलसन, स्व. देवदास बंजारे, गुरू कवि स्व. प्रमोद वर्मा, नाट्यधर्मी स्व. सुब्रत बोस, अंतरराष्ट्रीय क्रिकेटर राजेश चौहान, ओलंपियन मुक्केबाज श्री राजेन्द्र प्रसाद जैसे अनेक नाम हैं जिन्होंने भिलाई को नाम दिया। यदि यह कहा जाये कि इसी क़द-काठी के अन्यान्य शहरों में अमूमन जितने रंगकर्मी होते हैं, भिलाई में उससे अधिक रंग-संस्थायें हैं, तो कोई अतिशयोक्ति नहीं होगी।

समय यूँ ही नहीं गुजरता, वह हमें तराशता रहता है। पर बीता हुआ समय बादलों की तरह हल्का होता है और एकबारगी आकाश की तरह पूरा का पूरा आँखों में उतर आता है। यादों में तारों की तरह झिलमिलाते हैं वे साथी जो बिछुड़ गये, वे घटनायें जो पर्वत की तरह अमिट हैं और वरिष्ठों का वह संरक्षण, वह दुलार जो ओस की बूँदों की तरह हमें पवित्र और जीवंत बनाये रखता है। 1979 से नुक्कड़-चौराहों पर त्रिलोक सिंह, मेघला भादुड़ी, उपेन्द्र नाथ तिवारी, व्ही.एन. प्रसाद राव आदि उत्साही नवयुवकों ने जनगीतों के माध्यम से शुरुआती काम किया। 1980 के दौरान ललित कुमार वर्मा, अनिल कामडे, रामकुमार रामरिया, त्र्यम्बक राव साटकर, व्ही.एन. प्रसाद राव, दुष्यंत चन्द्राकर, राजेश यादव आदि ने भिलाई के सेक्टर-6 ए मार्केट में ‘समरथ को नहीं दोष गुसाई’ नुक्कड़ नाटक खेला। और फिर दुर्ग रेलवे स्टेशन चौक पर ‘गिली-गिली फू’, तथा छावनी, भिलाई में ‘गढ्ढे में गिरा आदमी’ नाटक खेला। 1981 में ललित कुमार वर्मा एवं रामकुमार रामरिया के सम्पादन में ‘इप्टा’ का पहला हस्तलिखितत सायक्लोस्टाइल्ड मुखपत्र ‘शिल्पी’ जारी हुआ। यह इप्टा का बिगुल था,  यह भिलाई-दुर्ग या कहें तो तत्कालीन छत्तीसगढ़ अंचल (अब प्रदेश) में जनवादी नाटकों के सफर की शुरुआत थी। इसी  दरमियान भिलाई में वरिष्ठ कवि रवि श्रीवास्तव की पहल पर स्व. बिमलेन्दु सिंह, डॉ. परदेशीराम वर्मा, अशोक सिंघई, इन्दुशंकर ‘मनु’, ललित कुमार वर्मा, अनिल कामडे, रामकुमार रामरिया आदि ने स्व. प्रो. कमला प्रसाद, प्रभाकर चौबे, ललित सुरजन की अगुवाई में म.प्र. प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ की भिलाई-दुर्ग इकाई का गठन किया।

प्रगतिशील जनवादी विचारधारा को 20-22 वर्षीय युवा भिलाई शहर ने और भिलाई के युवा और उत्साही संस्कृतिकर्मियोंने कँधे पर उठा लिया। साथी बिछुड़ते गये, जुड़ते गये। फरवरी 1982 में ‘इप्टा भिलाई’ का विधिवत् गठन हुआ। तब से लेकर आज तक राष्ट्रीय साँस्कृतिक हलचलों में ‘इप्टा भिलाई’ ने अपनी प्रभावी उपस्थिति दर्ज़ की। राज्य स्तरीय नाट्य शिविर के आयोजन ‘इप्टा भिलाई’ की परम्परा बन चुके हैं। 1984 में मिर्जा मसूद, 1986 में राजकमल नायक, 1988 में हबीब तनवीर, 1989 में रेखा जैन व सुरेश स्वप्निल, 1994 में मणिमय व  1997 में अरुण पाण्डेय के निर्देशन में आयोजित नाट्य शिविर उल्लेखनीय हैं।

स्मृतियों में तैरते भिलाई इप्टा के विशेष तौर पर मंचित नाटक हैं: ‘गढ्ढे में पड़ा आदमी’, ‘प्रश्न चिन्ह, ‘जंगीराम की हवेली, ‘समन्तराल’, ‘हरिजन दहन’, ‘सद्गति’, ‘औरत’, ‘इंस्पेक्टर मातादीन चाँद पर’, ‘राई’, ‘जब मैं सिर्फ औरत होती हूँ’, ‘पंचलेट’, ‘आखिर कब तक’, आदि। आयोजनों में राष्ट्रीय लोक-नृत्यों के सतत! प्रदर्शन, 1986 और 1992 में नुक्कड़ नाटक समारोह, छत्तीसगढ़ इप्टा का प्रथम राज्य सम्मेलन (2000),  भिलाई इप्टा स्वर्ण जयंती समारोह (2007), राष्ट्रीय युवा बालमंच कार्यशाला (2008) आदि अविस्मरणीय हैं।

साहित्यकार सुभाष मिश्र की गहरी आशनाई मानों ‘रंगकर्म’ से हो गई है। उन्हें और उनके साथियों को दाद देनी होगी कि उनके द्वारा दशकों से रायपुर में ‘मुक्तिबोध स्मृति नाट्य समारोह’ ऐसा आयोजित हो रहा है कि नामी दर्शकों को भी बैठने की जगह के लाले पड़ते हैं। उन्हीं के साथ मिलकर उनकी अगुवाई में ‘इप्टा भिलाई’ के अध्यक्ष राजेश श्रीवास्तव, मणिमय मुखर्जी, सुचिता मुखर्जी, निशु पाण्डे आदि साथी इस मशाल को न केवल जलाये रखे हुये हैं, बल्कि रोशनी में इज़ाफ़ा ही करते जा रहे हैं।

हम यह बखूबी जानते हैं कि काम का सबसे बड़ा पुरस्कार और अधिक काम करने का अवसर है तथा अवसर कभी आता नहीं, वह हमेशा मौज़ूद रहता है। हमने जब संस्कृतिकर्मी का बाना पहना है तो कोई भी आकाश हमारे लिये छोटा है, कोई भी हिमालय हमारे सामने बौना है और किसी भी दरिया में यह दम नहीं है कि वह हमें बाँध सके, रोक सके। किसी कवि ने खूब कहा है: ”सिर्फ रातों के  अँधेरे ही नहीं मुज़रिम/अब उजाले भी लिये फिरते हैं यहाँ खंजर/आपकी गहराइयों में डूबता है कौन/पाँव धोते हैं सब किनारे पर खड़े होकर।“ भिलाई ‘इप्टा’ के अनुभव में तीन बुनियादी चीजें हैं, पहला लगन के साथ कठोर परिश्रम, दूसरा सही प्रशिक्षण और मार्गदर्शन के साथ भरपूर प्रोत्साहन और तीसरी सबसे जरूरी बात है समाज में आदरयुक्त मान्यता। फिर भी बहुत से लक्ष्य हैं जिन्हें पूरा करने के लिये और भविष्य की तैयारियों के लिये सभी राष्ट्रीय संस्कृतिकर्मियों को यह विश्वास दिलाते हैं कि हम सब साथी तत्पर हैं, प्रतिबद्ध हैं। मित्रों! हम न केवल सपने बुनना जानते हैं बल्कि उन्हें साकार करने का हौसला भी रखते हैं तथा अपनी क्षमता का निरन्तर विकास भी करते रहते हैं। यूँ भी, ‘‘हमें ख़बर है कि हम हैं चिराग़-ए-आखि़रे शब / पर हमारे बाद, अँधेरा नहीं, उज़ाला है।’’