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Monday, December 21, 2015

Mithi Mithi Dogri Bolde n Dogre…Prof Magotra to recite dogri poems for AIR Nagpur


Mithi Mithi Dogri Bolde n Dogre…goes a popular Dogri song. But meet any tiny-tot or her elders in Jammu and chances are that they will respond to your Dogri in Hindi or English. The borrowed languages are not always spoken correctly, as Himmat – my host’s three year old daughter – demonstrated when pointing out to the new 40-inch TV her father had purchased, ‘Yeh TV hum ka hai.’ That the child did not know when not to use the possessive adjunct ka did not seem to bother her parents who stood smiling proudly beside her. Their daughter was speaking Hindi after all.

Strange too is the penchant of the Matador drivers for mindlessly drumming Punjabi songs into the ears of already harried passengers. If drivers indeed wished to share their taste for music with their passengers, what is the wrong with Dogri songs? But perhaps Dogri music CDs are not as freely available in the market as are Punjabi or Bollywood songs. It is a Catch-22 situation. Matador drivers can’t play Dogri songs because there are only so few Dogri CDs to be had; Dogri music CDs are scarce since there are hardly any takers for them.

Or take Dogri books. Prof Lalit Magotra, Convenor of Dogri at the Sahitya Akademy, New Delhi, who is himself an author of over a dozen books in Dogri, asserts, not without a touch of pride, ‘Prior to 1940s, you could literally count the number of Dogri books published on the fingers of your hand ….’ Seventy years later, we see ‘an exponential increase in the number of books being published in the language.’ There is abundant truth in what Prof Magotra claims. To cite just one instance, we have Inderjeet Kesar, 75, who has been publishing a Dogri book almost every year, ever since he retired from Kashmir Administrative Service in 1998. Today he has six novels (including one in press), one collection each of short stories and essays and eleven anthologies of poetry to his credit. Keser says publication of each book costs some thirty thousand rupees. The flip side of the story however, in the words of Janak Khajuria, a theatre personality and activist of Jammu, is that the authors and poets themselves have to bear the cost of publication of their books, and then – which is the most aggravating part – expend some more money and energy to organise a public function, only to distribute their works free of cost to the audience.

Films do better, but only that much. Shiv Dutt’s Lakeer set a record of sorts by remaining in circulation well over a year. But perhaps citing Lakeer in the present context won’t be apt. First, it was a Pothowari film rather than a Dogri one. Second, being digitalised, it did not require the paraphernalia of a big cinema hall to be screened. Last, but not the least, the film could never have reached the remotest places where it did, but for Shiv Dutt’s own commitment, market tactics, resourcefulness and E-N-E-R-G-Y (all in capital letters!). In contrast, recent Dogri films such as Maan Nayeen Mildi proved damp squibs. Kunwar Ishan Singh, 27, post-production creative head, tele-serial Begu Sarai asks pointedly: ‘In Jammu, the highest ticket to a cinema show goes for Rs 120. With such returns, what financier or producer would think of sinking the kind of big money into production of a Dogri film to match a glitzy Bollywood film?’ No wonder that even Shiv Dutt has yet to show the courage to produce a full length Dogri feature film.

Nevertheless, it seems Dogri is going places. On 28 November, 2015, as a part of a three-day event held under the auspices of Samanvay Indian Languages Festival and the IGNOU School of Translation Studies, Prof Lalit Magotra recited three of his poems before a select gathering of academics and scholars from all over India. The venue was India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. It was heartening to see Dogri poems being spontaneously translated into Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Telegu and even French (yes, French!) by young scholars. This writer had also had the privilege to recite his rendition of those poems into English and engage in a discussion with Prof Magotra on them.Later that day, the lilting tones of Dogri music held everyone spell-bound when young and unassuming Promila Manhas sang snippets from a variety of folksongs while reading her comprehensive paper on Dogri Folk Music. What gave her exhilarating presentation a particular significance is that Jammu-based Manhas is primarily a school lecturer in Botany in direct contact with Jammu’s Gen X.

Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages is also exerting itself to promote Dogri, particularly to conserve the aspects of the folklore which face extinction. Dr Arvinder Singh Amn, Academy’s suave Additional Secretary, said that on the literary side, the bi-monthly Shiraza is brought out regularly and the Academy is also bringing out books on the lives of illustrious personalities. For propagation of culture, Jammu province has been divided into four zones. With colleges as the focal points, mushairas and ‘folk-melas’ are regularly organised to give voice to young talent. Performances of Phumaniyan, Masaade and Jadiyan et cetera are regularly organised. The Academy video-graphed 650 such events which were later televised by DD’s Kashir channel in seven episodes. Dr Amn narrated how Academy went an extra mile to curate Bhagtiyan, a dying theatrical form of Dogras. Today, there is just one Bhagtiyan talib around. The 84-year old doyen and his 80 year old brother were reluctant to give a public performance. Girdhar, the talib’s 40-something son, however allowed himself to be persuaded on their behalf with an incontrovertible argument. ‘A drunkard,’ Dr Amn said to the publicity-shy artistes, ‘falls in a gutter because of his overindulgence. He has no shame at all to go to the nearest theka the very next day for a pouch of hooch. You in contrast would be doing your ancestors proud by rendering an invaluable service to the coming generations in preserving your heritage.’ Happily, the Academy went on to organise a Bhagtiyan performance in the talib’s mohalla itself.

The Academy’s high point of propagation of Dogra culture was CM’s inauguration of Abhinvav Theatre at Jammu on 6 December. At a glittering ceremony attended by the State finance minister, MOS, Culture and hoi polloi of Jammu, Mufti Mahammed Sayeed declared his commitment to give wholehearted support to cultural activities in the State, while Finance Minister Drabu assured the audience that there would be no dearth of funds for the purpose.

Radio Kashmir, Jammu is doing its own bit to promote Dogri at national level.

January, the coming year, Prof Magotra has been invited to Nagpur to recite a few of his Dogri poems, to be broadcast at the All India Radio.

Hindi rendition of his poems by eminent Dogri/Hindi writer Chhattrapal will also be read alongside, as will be their English version, which this writer has attempted.........

Forwarded by:- Jainendra Nigam PB NewsDesk prasarbharati.newsdesk@gmail.com

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