Marxist Cultural Movement in India: 1947-1958

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Marxist Cultural Movement in India: 1947-1958

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Compiled and Edited by SUDHI



Published by Sri Kunal Kumar Ray NAVANA

P 1 0 3 Prinsep Street, Calcutta 700072

First Published i n November 1982

© Sm. Santi Pradhan, 1982

Printed by Sri K u n a l K u m a r Ray Navana Printing Works Private L t d . , 47 Ganesh Chunder Avenue, Calcutta 700013

Cover designed by Sri Khaled C h o w d h m y on the basis of a drawing by Sri Chittaprasad


Rs. 100.00 $ 25.00 £ 10.00


P R E F A C E I T H A S been nearly a year since the first volume of Marxist Ctdturd Movement in India was sold out. It is my failing health that prevented me from bringing out the second volume earlier: Thanks for l i i e success of the first volume must go to the C P I ( M ) leaders E . M . S. Namboodiripad, Samar Mukherji, Abdullah Rasul and Sunil Basu, and the C P I leaders Professor H i r e n Mukherji, the late Gangadhar Adhikari and Chinmohon Sehanobis, since the active interest they took i n the book from its very inception helped its readership to be aware of its impor­ tance even when the book was first launched. Conscious as I was of the many editorial faults of the first volume, enthusiastic reviews i n the two party organs. People's Democraq/ and New Age and encouragement from front-ranking leaders of the Com­ munist movement i n India, steered me on to redouble my labours on the second volume, i n spite of physical ailments. D r . Adhikari had started sending me documents from the hbrary at Ajay Bhawan. It is most unfortunate that he d i d not live to see the completion of m y work. A renewal of contact with some of my former colleagues of the P W A and the I P T A and the circulation of a questionnaire, formulated b y my friend R. M . Singh, an erst-while member of the last A l l India Committee of the I P T A , among 60 former I P T A workers, did not yield much fresh information about the old organisation. A l l that has emerged is that even after the dissolution of the all-India organisation, groups bearing the name of the I P T A have continued to function in West Bengal, U.P., Andhra, Kerala, Delhi, Bombay and Assam. While in some instances these groups are connected either with the C P I ( M ) or the C P I , there are others who claim to have been inspired b y the ideal of the I P T A although they steer clear of party afiiliations. Recently, the formation of the Janavadi Lekhak Sangh in North India has pointed out the widely-felt need for a platform where such groups may come closer to each other and work i n a co-ordinated manner. The Progressive Writers' Association. The Indian Peoples' Theatre Association.



I had mentioned i n the preface to the first volume that with the shadow of a second world war looming large on the horizon, progressive intellectuals from Europe, America and Asia had started exploring the possibilities of a broad front on the basis of resistance to imperialism and fascism and on behalf of peace. They d i d not keep themselves confined to issuing joint declara­ tions and manifestoes to this end, but initiated several world congresses of intellectuals and set up more permanent organisa­ tions. I have also discussed how the impact of such world-wide movements led to the formation of the F W A i n India i n 1936 with Munshi Premchand, the greatest of the writers i n H i n d i , as its president. I n fact, while the first all-India conference of the P W A was going on i n L u c k n o w i n 1906, Jawaharlal Nehru simultaneously raised the slogan of an anti-imperialist, anti­ fascist national front from the platform of the Indian National Congress then in session i n Lucknow. However, as noted i n the first volume, while non-party intellectuals and writers along with nationahst leaders were drawn into the P W A , the Marxists were i n command organisationally. Expansion of the activities of the organisation i n different parts of India, on the basis of its published manifesto reproduced i n my first volume, no doubt played a crucial role i n disseminating the Marxist point of v i e w i n the sphere of Indian cultural thought. Those who have studied this manifesto may, however, have noticed that while it carries towards the end very specific directions regarding the immediate task of the cultural front, its intial analysis of the Indian situation is couched i n vague­ ness. It fails totally to work out the nature of the cultural formations of ancient and medieval India, the impact on them of colonial rule and the socio-political factors hampering and crippling the development of a new indigenous culture. Thus the understanding of the pros and cons of cultural movement at that particular historical junctiure remains incomplete i n the manifesto. This theoretical weakness of the Marxists and leftists on the cultural front was the reflection of a general lacuna i n the political line which was a principal factor i n the subsequent breaking up of the broad anti-fascist anti-imperialist front i n India. T h e leaders of the Indian National Congress took advan­ tage of this when after the out-break of the Second W o r l d W a r ,



in the name of not embarrassing the British while they were fighting German fascism, they took away the edge of the united anti-imperialist struggle i n which the left nationalist and Mar­ xists were strengthening themselves. They succeeded firstly i n ousting the left nationalists led by Subhas Chandra Bose from the Congress and secondly i n ahenating the Socialists (Congress Socialist Party) from the Marxists. Subsequently, the left nationalists and Marxists sought to develop anti-imperialist militancy tiirough local and partial struggles, while the Con­ gress took i h e line of individual non-cooperation. The British Government reaped the benefit of this by putting the leftists i n jail under Security Act, Defence of India A c t etc. Those who remained outside the jail had to go i n hiding. The wcEikening of the Anti-fascist front had other adverse factors behind it like the presence of Subhas Chandra i n Fascist Germany and the growth of a certain admiration of H i d e r as a part of Anti-British sentiment. But it was the Russo-German non-agression pact which made the confusion of the intellec­ tuals complete. Yet i n those areas where Marxist movement was strong, the ideological struggle was carried on through songs, poster-dramas and various media of folk-entertainment among workers, peasants and students. Various organisations sprang up i n Bengal, United Provinces, Punjab, Bombay, Banga­ lore, Malabar, Assam and Andhra to take charge of this task. The formation of the Youth Cultural Institute i n Calcutta i n 1940 and of the People's Theatre Association i n Bangalore i n 1941 came at this juncture. The People's War Line which was evolved by the Marxists after the Soviet Union was attacked b y Fascist Germany as­ sumed that the freedom movement i n India would be strength­ ened, i f the movement against Fascism i n Europe and Asia succeeded. A government document of this period reveals that the British were not unaware of the tactical significance of the Peopkfs War Line. I n a secret fortnightly report for the month of January '42, i n the section 'Communists and the W a r ' we , find: 'Although the views recently expressed b y some com­ munist bodies may suggest a more realistic approach towards the war (Refers to the declaration made b y A.I.S.F. and A.I.K.S., students and peasants Front, Ed.), it is unlikely that the anxiety of the communists to ensure the survival of Soviet Russia will prove stronger than their hatred of British imperialism. . . .




their professed change of policy is inspired by no sympathy with British causes but looks forward to the eventual destruc­ tion of imperialism after the defeat of fascism'. T h e support to the war 'seems to be qualified b y their determination to con­ tinue agitating for such demands as complete independence for India, the release of security prisoners, the immediate transfer of power to Indians at the centre, the re-distribution of taxation and the granting of workers' and peasants' demands'. It was on the basis of the Pex>fM's War Line that the com­ munists opposed the abortive 'Quit India' movement launched b y the Congress at a time when German and Japanese fascism were threatening respectively the StaUngrad front and the Burma Front. This movement was foisted b y the Congress leaders without previous planning on an unprepared people and b y misleading their pent-up spontaneous anti-imperialist feelings, merely served to expose them to the most brutal irriperiaHst backlash. O n the other hand, the Indian b i g bour­ geoisie which had grovm fat on war contracts and had, i n cahoots with imperiahsm, created the Bengal Famine of 1943, branded the communists, through their hired press, as traitors to the country. The Communists needed a platform for fighting these false allegations. It was this that led to the foundation of the A n t i Fasdst Writers' and Artists' Association i n Bengal i n 1942 and the revival of the P W A and the formation of the People's Theatre Association as an All-India organisation i n 1943. T h e main documents of these movements upto 1947 have been given i n the first volume. I n the present volume, I am collating the documents of the movement from the sixth to the last all-India conference of the I P T A . A t the fourth conference (1946) held i n Calcutta, which I attended, there was no change i n over-all policy. But the fifth conference at Ahmedabad (1947) where the Jawaharlal faction of the Congress was supported against the communal extremists, a line of compromise was laid out and the transfer of power of August, 1947 was supported as a step to 'National advance' iri accordance with the general pohcy of the C P I . A t this crucial juncture, the thesis of 'class unity' advanced i n the period of the anti-fascist and patriotic people's war (It was Stalin who spoke again and again Of 'patriotic' war), continued to be maintained. In the famous ballets of the time like 'The



Spirit of India' and 'India Immortal', and i n plays relating to the life of the peasantry, the conflict of the people with tiie rural exploiters was obfuscated b y emphasizing exclusively the aspect of struggle against a colonial bureaucracy. O n the other hand, b y post poning the necessity for building up a mass cul­ tural movement, the central ballet troupe formed i n Bombay and the drama troupe formed i n Calcutta respectively under the supervision of the Central Committee and the State C o m inittee of the Party, paved the way for the formation of com­ mercial art-groups w i d i a small number of initiates. The sub­ sequent confinement of the theatre movement to urban audi­ ences, with petty bourgeois revolutionism as its general theme, reflected on the cultural front the results of capitulation to the renewed strength of the native b i g bourgeoisie. The possibility of the development of a people's democratic art and of a cul­ tural army of class-conscious artistes out of the I P T A was nipped i n the bud. T h e Communists failed totally to take advantage of the explosive situation of 1946-47 characterised b y popular upsurges i n diiferent parts of India. But the repres­ sion that was unleashed on them following the general election that took place after the Declaration of the Armistice and the release of Congress leaders from jail soon turned their thoughts in a diiferent direction. T h e Communist International was dissolved in 1943 to make it easier for the communists to work, especially i n those parts which were occupied or attacked by the fascists. But imme­ diately the second world war was over, the Anglo-American forces started the cold war, and under the name of the recon­ struction of a war-ravaged Europe, Communists we?re syste­ matically eliminated from the government of countries like France and Italy. It was only when the communists—those who had made the greatest sacrifices i n the anti-fascist struggle— were pushed into a comer that the C P S U , the undoubted leader of the world communist movement, took notice. I n a conference of nine communist parties of Europe Zhdanov, the trusted lientenant of Stalin, criticized the reformism of difFerent com­ munist parties i n his report on the post-war international situa­ tion. T h e communist parties of the U.S.A., Britain and France were criticized and the veil was lifted off the real face of British rule i n India. It was after this that the English translation of Zhukov and Alexieve's writings on India—earlier published i n



important Soviet newspapers—were made available i n this country. Their thesis proposed that the British had come to a compromise with the non-Muslim bourgeoisie and the M u s l i m landlords i n order to grant a fictitious independence to India. Right at that time the Soviet Communist Party adopted four resolutions to launch a violent attack against infiltration of Western decadence i n the literature, drama, music and films of the Soviet Union. T h e main point of the Garaudy—^Aragon de­ bate i n France was the same—^whether the Communist Party w i l l intervene i n cultural affairs, with Aragon i n favour of, and Garaudy against, such intervention. Around the same time M a o Zedong's epoch-making lecture at Yenan came to be available here. A l l this was reflected both i n political and cultural dis­ cussions of Marxists i n this country. This is the reason w h y the political line adopted at the second congress of the C P I i n February 1948 came to influence the cultural policies i n the P . W . A . and the I.P.T.A. F o r reasons of space I have started with the I.P.T.A. docxmaents of that period i n this volume ; the documents on literature w i l l follow i n the third volume. T h e two documents—^Teace-cultural movement and ' L i v i n g con­ ditions of cultural workers'—are important for an understanding of the changed cultural line of the 1950s ; these also indicate why the last all-India conference of the I P T A i n 1957-58 was followed b y the dissolution of the all-India character of the movement. These documents reveal clearly the development of reformism which ultimately l e d to the liquidation of the Marxist Cultural Fronts. However, excerpts from poems and reproduc­ tions of paintings and a photograph published i n this book w i l l also reveal that the start was very promising. W e ought to remember that the resolutions of the 1948 C o n ­ gress d i d not come from an individual or a cUque, but was the result of the new phase of struggle between the forces of socialism and capitalism. But the communists had to pay the price of starting late and fighting alone against the background of the 'independence' with which the bourgeois-landlord com­ bine had managed to hoodwink the people. This also led to the split among the communists, to prevent which a secret con­ clave with Stalin was thought necessary. The document drawn up after consultations with Stalin was free from illusions about the character of the Indian state, and it laid a proper emphasis on the united struggle of a major section of the peasantry for an



agrarian revolution. It was after the death of Stalin and the propagation of the Khrushchev-Suslov line of socialism with­ out tears' that conflict and confusion spread amidst the commtmist parties. The Indian Marxists fell a victim to this con­ fusion. The present volume shows that the narrowing focus of cul­ tural activities of the 1948-50 period widened again with the formation of the united anti-imperialist Peace Front. T h e docu­ ments from the 1951-1957 period show that a policy of united front with bourgeois and petty-bourgeois interests on the question of war and peace led to the infiltration of bourgeois ideas into cultural work and defused the theory of class war. Of course, a conflict between two lines raged here too, as i n China. Reformism crept into the I P T A as it had infiltrated the peace movement. But some of the persons involved were not con­ sistent followers of one line throughout; there was a certain element of ambiguity and uncertainty i n the picture. I would like to draw m y readers' attention to the articles of Niranjan Sen, Narahari Kaviraj, Hemango Biswas, Anna Bhau Sathe and Jaswant Thakkar on the one hand and Balraj Sahni and Sachin Sengupta on the other. F o r Sachin Sengupta Peoples' theatre is for the whole people and Balraj Sahni wanted the help of the B i g Business to create progressive Cinema ! A progressive critic had defined progressive theatre as that which is not reactionary ! There are many conflicting ideas propounded by many party members. Sachin Sengupta and Balraj Sahni were not members of the Party. The readers w i l l notice that even before the 1957 conference of the I P T A , members of the All-India committee did not at­ tend its sessions, and that 'Unity', the organ of the I P T A , had ceased publication for want of members' support. The annual accounts of such a body show its utter dislocation. I have docu­ ments which prove that the Party Leadership itself was un­ certain about keeping alive the front organisations like the I P T A and the P W A . These w i l l go into the third volume. But there is another point to be made i n this connection. There was another trend, assiduously propagated in the field of culture from the early fifties. There was a cultural meet i n Bombay in 1951 organised by pro-American and anti-communist intellec­ tuals, which Buddhadeva Bose of Calcutta, once a pro-com­ munist and anti-fascist author, attended. There was a com-



mittee formed i n Calcutta, professedly aimed at saving Asia from the communists, and this group published a regular journal called 'Asia', and was responsible for translating and distributing books hke ' G o d That failed' almost free of cost. Later on, CIA-financed jomnals i n India attracted once 'pro­ gressive' writers. A d d e d to that there was the lure of govern­ ment patronage. Various academies sponsoi-ed b y the Govern­ ment of India came up, awards and honom-s were instituted, financial assistance, cultural exchange programmes, member­ ships of the Rajya Sabha, etc. attracted many former members of the F W A and the I P T A into the establishment. T h e foreign policy of the Government of India, which moved from a proAmerican position to a non-aligned stance of great material ad­ vantage, managed to create confusion among Marxists, as d i d the internal policy of five-year plans and other 'progressive' measures. This made the parliamentary path seem an attrac­ tive alternative, but i n turn created its o w n contradiction within the movement. T h e second world conference of communist parties sought to make a compromise between the Soviet and the Chinese paths, and this had repurcussions on the cultural situation i n India as well. W h e n I met the late Bhupesh Gupta, a Polit Boureau meihber of the C.P.I, after his return from this conference and the question of my resignation from the I P T A arose, he commented that they had enough trouble maintaining unity on the peasants' and workers' front, and that they had no time to think gbout the cultural front. I had to ask him whether the working class could accomplish the revolution without allies. O n e could also see that i n the peculiar conditions of India, where a problemridden capitahsm has had to come to terms with feudal elements and where fissiparous tendencies are eating into the vitals of the nation, a cultural revolution is of enormous importance, as Mao Zedong made clear in his 'Problems of A r t and Literature'. The capitalist development so far has been able to create a petty-bourgeois class which surrounds the Marxists and makes it difficult to unite the workers and peasants. T h e urban classes, better off financially and better organised, dominate the cul­ tural and political life of the country and dictate the orientation of even 'progressive' culture. But the strata where Marxist cul­ ture was the most needed had been led astray for a length of time.



I suppose, finally, 1 have to say a few words about myself. I had objections to the Peopled War Line as aimounced i n the Patna conference of the A I S F ; and a few leaders of the Party were themselves sceptical about it. One of m y tasks was to guide them into the underground shelter, and I was asked to be present i n these clandestine sessions by Somnath Lahiri, one of the most important Central Committee members of the day. I had also got involved i n the procurement of arms and ammunition under instructions from the late Muzaffar Ahmed, but these were moved away before the 1948 Party Congress. 1 had critized the articles b y late Bhawani Sen on art and culture as ultra-left i n 1949 while I was i n jail, and I was suspended when 1 came out. But 1 was exonerated and my membership restored after an enquiry by Dharani Goswami of the Meerut Conspiracy case fame. But 1 became increasingly sceptical about the nature of 'democratic centralism' i n the party, espe­ cially when I saw that many leaders were trying to find a scape­ goat either i n P. C . Joshi or B . T . Ranadive instead of engag­ ing i n self-criticism. A certain lack of faith was i n the air. In the meantime the sheer problems of making a living assumed serious proportions. I and my wife were whole-time party workers. During 1948 to 1950 we had no financial support from the Party, and had to depend on relatives. Meanwhile we had had a son. Thus came about my resignation from party-mem­ bership and search for a living. But the undivided Party al­ ways gave me the oppoitunity to work on the cultural front, and I tried my best to work i n democratic organizations. But it be­ came impossible to work on these fronts when factionalism and personal pursuits immobilised these from within. M y resignation from the I P T A i n 1958 was due to this after a bitter struggle against these trends: But records will prove that I was not an indifferent spectator. T o tlie best of my understanding I have tried to work for Marxism. 18.10.82

Sudhi Pradhan

Acknowledgements I n - the editing of this book I have had invaluable help from Pabitra Sarkar, M a l i n i Bhattacharya, M i h i r Bhattacharya of the Jadavpur University, Ratna Chattopadhyaya of die Calcutta University and Saroj M o h a n Mitra—a distinguished writer and a professor of Bengali literature. M a l i n i and M i h i r mobilised two of their students—Sarbani Chowdhury and Sunandan Chakravarty—^to help me initially. Sajal Roychoudhuiy an artist, also helped me. Most of the typing was done b y m y two Malayalee friends, Eswaran and K . P. Soman. Sasanka Shekhar Chose, a retired teacher, tried to help me i n proof corrections. B u t due to our ignorance i n this matter we cannot claim to have done well although Sri Biram Mukhopadhya, a famous poet and an acknowledged expert i n the publishing business, did his best to make this volume a standard pub­ lication. I take this opportunity to express m y gratitude to h i m for his untiring help; Sri K u n a l Ray, Director of Navana Printing Works Private L t d . , also publisher of this volume, and Sri R a m Haider, a friend of mine, deserve special mention for their help. I also thankfully acknow­ ledge m y debt to the L a n d and Life Photo-News Agency (P.) L t d . , and to the respective copyright holders of the paintings, sketches and photograph used i n this volume.




Impact of Marxism on Indian poetry and painting


Indian Peoples' Theatre Association (IPTA)


^ T h e eth A l l India Conference


T h e Government Secret Circulars


The Re-organisation of I P T A


T h e Indian Theatre


Productions of Progressive Theatres


T h e Classical Chinese Theatre Changing


Some Issues


The Stage i n Bombay




Tasks and Programmes




East Pakistan Cultural Conference

96, 181

Sisir Bhaduri Speaks

97, 184

Unite the Forces of People's Culture



Revival of the I P T A i n Assam


People's Theatre i n India


Reply to Sengupta


Shadow play


United Maharashtra Theatre convention


Three demands


Gorky's Mother i n Calcutta stage


The 7th A l l India Conference

140, 167

Stanislavasky teaches


You made me Communist




F o l k forms of O u d h Thretre Arts and the Government

171 186, 197

Progress of Malayalee stage


T h e I P T A since the 7th A . I . Conference


. Rupamahal Artistes' Association


The I P T A activities i n MahaGujarat


In Bengal


The first conference of Andhra Theatres


The third Conference of Assam


The Circular of the A l l India Committee


The 8th National Conference and Festival


O n Manifesto b y H . Biswas and S. Pradhan


Peace Movement


T h e A U India Peace Convention.


O n the Cultural Conference


Tagore's Declarations Against W a r


A l l India Peace Festival


The Peace tradition i n Indian Culture


H i n d i writers stand for Peace


A t Vienna I Saw Peace


The L i v i n g Conditions of the Cultural Workers




T H I S SECTION brings together a number of poems—^in excerpts,, unfotrunately, for reasons of space—translated from various Indian languages and published i n the pages of three Journals, Unity, Indian Literature and People's War and an anthology. The Anti-Fascist Traditions in Bengal. These samples of nationalist and radical verse have been arranged i n a certain thematic order, starting from the realisation of the state of oppression and the call to freedom, progressing to the awaken­ ing when the poet sides with the oppressed and the exploited, and ending with his participation i n the international front of all radical forces, especially i n the fight against fascism. E v e n these brief excerpts w i l l show that there was a definite movement away from not only the older mode of mythological and religious verse, but also from the more modem IjTicism which some of the Indian literature had enthusiastically em­ braced i n the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I f lyric romanticism signified the break from medievalism, the kind of poetry represented here indicates a departure i n turn from bourgeois expressivism of both progressive and decadent varie­ ties, a turning away from the sole self to the social being of man. W e must recall that the struggle against British imperialism had already brought a certain dimension of the political into Indian poetry—^for patriotism and nationalism are politics of a kind—and as socialism and communism represented the most ad­ vanced reaches of the new political consciousness i n India, re­ sulting from something like a theoretical break in man's under­ standing of society, similarly the new poetry signified the coming together of the most progressive forces in literature, both i n formal and ideological terrains. A l l this happened under the influence of a definite movement, represented by the Anti-Fascist Writers' movement and the I.P.T.A. where the participation of the individual author is not very clear, as in the case of Rabindranath Tagore, Iqbal, Kazi Nazrul Islam or Subramanya Bharati, a little investigation re­ veals that their pioneering work was the result of definite in­ fluences. N a z m l was a close associate of communists. Tagore had enormously admired the socialist experiments i n the Soviet 2



Union—as revealed i n his Letters from Russia—and his very late poetry shows the transition from a rather eclectic human­ ism to a specific feeling for the downtrodden, quite apart from his anti-fascist position widely represented i n prose as well as verse. The following excerpt is from a poem of Tagore called Aikatan ('Symphony') written i n 1941 ; Earth-bom poet as I am M y flute must d i i m e i n with E a c h and every sound arising from the earth— Yet the call of many voices does not reach me i n my music-making, A distance remains. . . . One who shares i n the peasant's life. H a v i n g achieved trae proximity i n word and deed, A poet who is close to the earth. It is for the utterance of such a one That I am straining m y ears.


W h e n the doleful wails of the oppressed W i l l no longer rend the skies W h e n the dreadful swords of the tyrant, rattling N o longer i n a battle rise O n that day alone War-wom I, rebel the great. Shall know my rest K a z i N a z r u l Islam Unitt/, July 1954 FREEDOM

If there is no bread for one, even one, W e shall smash the world. Perish ignorance ! In man and woman alike,



N o more of subordination. In every walk of life equality, M a n and woman shall equal be I n this land of ours. Freedom, freedom, freedom ! T o the pariahs, to the tiyas, to the pulays, freedom ! T o the paravas, the kuravas, the maravas, freedom ! Subramanya Bharati (1882-1921) Unity, D e c / J a n .


Translated from the Tamil many years ago by C . Rajagopalachari. Ex-Chief Minister of Madras, Published by courtesy of the Bharati T a m i l Sangham.



T o burst with life, with hopes of new life. T h e y raise their heads and gaze at thee Again and again, heavy downpour. Hearing thy thunderous challeoge. The world's heart is filled with fear. Hundreds of warriors fall under thy hail. The high mountains, competing with heaven, are crushed A n d beaten. The little plants laugh— The innumerable plants of com. They dance and they laugh. They wave their hands and call thee, O n l y the little ones are joyous at the thunder of Revolution. Nirala Indian Literature, 2,



In a moment I w i l l reduce to ashes. The entire show of high and lowly, This weak creation w i l l tremble. The sleeping heavens w i l l awake; W i t h my feet I am crushing the thorns on tlie ways. For I am walking along the path. Shiv Mangal Singh "Suman" Indian Literature, Volume 2,






The captives languish for Terms undefined behind the cruel bars. Redressal is denied, Unheeded are theu- w a i l s ; But, i n the solitude A n d ghastly hush of night. A w a y , away from ramparts of jail. D e e p from the dreary bosom of the bustling town. T h e distant chimes of hourly strikes Startle the m i n d ; Flickers the flame of life, U p flare the chandeliers, A n d fleeting fancy, a nocturnal feast arrays ; A n d trifling incidents of life Cluster the dreams. Makhdoom M o h i u d d i n Indian Literature, Volume 2, Translated from Urdu by Wahab


1952 Hydar


Bind, b i n d my feet i n chains ! A n d can you B i n d the wings of m y thought? B i n d my songs soaring i n skies of blue ? B i n d the rich rumble of my voice and art ? B i n d me ? I who at history's crossroads Defied the thunder ! who i n the teeth of alarm L i t fires of life ! I who now startle the conspiratorial Clouds Smihng with the moon of hope on my palm ! Akhtar Payamy Unity, November


(Translated from Urdu) This poem is dedicated to the accused in a conspiracy case started by the Pakistan Government. Amongst the accused were Pakistan's finest artists and writers such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Sajjad Zaheer, the founder Secretary of P W A .






T h e prison of India is shaking and battle-cries resound T h e prisoners, bored and weary, are breaking their chains They have gathered near the walls with the lightning in Their hearts A n d i n their eyes the swords of ancient pains. In the eyes of the hungry there's fire, cannon mouths are C o l d and dumb T h e lips of fate are trembling, and dying the enemy's plans The eyes of the beggar are red, and white is the face of T h e king Destruction unfurls its flag, and old world stretches its Lifeless hands. Josh Malihabadi Unitij, October



T h e prisons which do shelter misrule. W o u l d pour out liberators i n file. R e d flags are rising up to the heavens. T h e east and west would be one in a while. L e t thousand lightnings fall and winds blow. T h e spring shall come, the flowers shall smile. Sahir Ludhianvi Indian Literature 2,


Translated from U r d u by Pritam Singh



H e i g h ho! my backbone is a flute W h i c h sounds the music of sorrow " W e have hardly a morsel of bread today A n d death w i l l take us tomorrow!" R e d is the mouth of Time that blows Through its hollow a poisoned breath H e i g h ho! for my backbone is a flute O f cold, starvation and death!. Harin Chattopadhyay Unity, July 1952




U n t i l that day when golden sunlight comes Sweeps out the cigarette butts of bumt-out Hate— U n t i l l that day when peacock calendars Startle the grey walls with a festive date— Count up the crimes, written and underlined i n red O p e n up the account books of retribution A n d kneeling before the safes of Knowledge Recite the magic numbers of revolution. D a v i d Cohen Unity, Jan.

O !



D o not grow sad, O ! Sister ! F o r revenge prepare! This Kalikalam of rakshasas long w i l l not last! Devil's own designs w i t h motives of death filled. B r i n g cruel separation to lovers. Break mothers' hearts with grief. Reduce the young to orphan-hood! This w i l l I say, never succeed, R e d flames of vengeance leap from your eyes. Shall the cruel and the greedy destory! Don't lose heart, O ! Sister! For revenge prepare! Tummala Venkata Ramayya Indian Literature 2,



Drench the crouching, as you please, o h ! cloud, Soak them as you may. But let the lightning fire their hearts A n d led them on the W a y , Let the poor woman wipe her tears A n d lead her son b y the hand. Let the crouching stand erect and march O n their Great Errand.




A n d then,one day w i l l a Great Thunder Crash across the main. In one Great Light make the world aglow. A n d then the bhssful rain. D . S. Moorthy Unity, July 1954



They have gone to the fields Singing their lovely songs O f the fresh harvest O f golden ripe paddy. What w i l l you get m y lovely bird W h e n you get tired, tired after the heavy work ? W e w i l l get the chaff F o r our g r u e l ; The entire harvest to the landlord's b a m will go reaping. W e get tired. W e get tired. But no cloth, no food. But always half starved ! O. N . V . K u r u p Unity, July 1953


W h o has broken the silence of the Earth ? It is we workers who have done it. W h o has blown on the tranpet of doom ? It is the workers who do it. Who has lighted the brilliant lamps. In the dark cities of the world ? Who has filled the lap of the earth W i t h a l l this wealth of life ? Who has removed the veil F r o m the face of obscure cultures ? W h o has conquered and won over The shy goddes of destiny ? The worker has challenged




A l l obstacles, all resistance H e has challenged dire Fate A n d all its hostile workings. F i r a q Gorakhpuri Indian Literature, Vol. 3,


Translated from Hindustani by P. C . Gupta


[A young boatman lad named Baji Raut was murdered by the agents of a princely State of Orissa] O he is like a slender-throated b i r d W h i c h soars and sings W h i l e round its flight all heaven is Struck and stirred, T o a wide sense of wings. Fire-tinged, unfettered, high, O he is a bird of freedom now ' W h o rests no more upon the crooked Bough Of Wasteful agony, but sweeps the Sky Sochi Raut R o y People's War Translated by Harin Chattopadhyay O N BEING INVITED T O RECITE POEMS BEFORE T H E ENEMIES O F T H E PEOPLE

O harp my art, draw taut every string W i t h breast plates of steel gird my thought for the fray Y o u rosy-cheeked metaphors, draw forth your swords Y o u symbols assemble in battle array— The Slaughterers of poetry have invited me ! Parvez Shahidi UnUy, September


Have you not seen yon poster onthe wall ? Its scarlet letter i n the steaming glare W i l l fade beyond recall. . . .




(Hot conflict rends the sky, and words are but -Even as blunted steel which cannot cut) Come, read the poster now—^yes, read it now. It shouts of a dead age' and redly reads O f a new era that succeeds. A r u n Mitra (Anti-Fascist Traditions in Bengal) UNKNOWN


I n the soul of your soul, my people ! In the mind of your mind. Unknown I abide I, the artist. It is I who am weaving So many flowers O n the loom of yoiu- dreams, I, the artist unknown. In the silence of yours In that sohtude of yours I shall arise and speak A revolutionary I, who am your own. Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla First President, IPTA, Assam (Translated by Hiren Gohain)


I am not going to sing today— A soft and sweet song— O f Nishat and Shalimar O f the playful fountain and the flowery field— N o r of the dew shining In green lustre on the grass beneath Because Without caring for aught—he lies i n ambush H i d d e n at every place—in the blazing sun— T o seize my garden. Because T h e war monger, the cunning foe Has girded up his loins


T o make an easy prey Of my sweet Kashmir. D.


Urdty, Jvune 1951 (Translated from Kashmiri by J. L . Kilam)



T h e new b o m has come. W e must give him space; T h e decaying earth O n oru" backs. Debris and corpse— It is time for us to quit. Yes, we'll go. Yet, So long as life remains, I w i l l sweep away The garbage of earth A n d make this a heaven F o r the new-bom babe— T o him, this is my vow ! A t the end I shall bless the child W i t h m y heart's own blood— A n d then History and I shall be one ! Sukanta Bhattacharya Indian Literature, Vol. 2,



They keep vigil i n the trenches. Behind barbed wires. In the darkness of the night. That their sounds might destroy Those who call death life. A n d bring devastation In the name of new order, Their ilaming swords




Scatter the inky darkness into shreds. They have made of their pen A mighty sword. Saroj Kumar Dutta Agrani, February




T h e nations which are denied the divine gifts C a n find the pinnacles of its glory only i n electricity and Steam. T h e supremacy of the machine spells death for the heart and the mind, Tools but always crush the fellow feehng. Now, atlast, one can discern some signs W h i c h portend the triumph of reason over fate. T h e wisemen of yore are brooding over the fact That the entire structure of their domain is shaken to the very foundation. The glow that one finds on the faces b y twilight Is never real, it is either rouge or the handiwork of the glass and bottle. T h o u art omnipotent and just, but i n thy world H a r d and miserable are the days of the working people. W h e n is this ship of capitalism going to be sunk God, thy world is waiting for the day of deliverance. Mohammad Iqbal Lenin, His Image in India—1970 LENIN

Our ambidexter b o m to avenge the death of these your brothers. O n the earth appeared Astounding all ! Upon this faith-tom earth In many countries comrades' blood was poured O n exploiters' Alters—who had them i n mind ? L e n i n forgot not, nor was



Vengeance tamed But burnt within his heart, until it flamed Into the wider context of mankind. Golam Kuddus (Anti-Fascist Traditions in Bengal)


In every hearth and home. In every honest womb L e n i n comes to life ! L i k e a mightly torrent, III every rebel sky— Across a sea of blood L i k e the blazing sun. T h e shiny rays of L e n i n Rush on and on and on. Where ever. There goes on A heroic fight for freedom— In C h i n a or Italy's shore. In England or somewhere else— L e n i n points the way. Sukanta Bhattacharya Indian Literature, 2,



H o w can life be robbed of its treasures ? Take a new zeal and passion from life and march on ! T h e flow of rivers should feel shy of your speed, March on with your feet kicking at every heavy mountain! Not far is the day when the Earth w i l l be aglow with Stars M a r c h on with your feet carving a M i l k y W a y on earth ! F a d e d w i l l be this darkness of the falling night It is only a step or two that you have to march O n with the torch of your burning heart held high. Jan Nisar Akhtar Translated from Urdu by Khalique Ibraliim Indian Literature, Volume 3,





Surged up the seven seas with deep unrest A n d . a shiver ran through the age-old spine of earth, But above all, on its steady, towering pole Fluttered the R e d F l a g with its b o l d challenge. F r o m the gloomy twilight of time, past and present. Came Death, patted, and picked up a famous life, A person loved for his wisdom deep, and iron w i l l . In whose hands bloomed the infant Truth of the Age. Chaturbhuj Doshi Indian Literature, Vol. 2,


Translated from Oujarati



Y o u are not only three years old. Your age is of thirtythree years of struggle. A n d behind that lie three thousand years. You do remember: Our hands met Across the Himalayas through the centuries, A n d gladly we overflowed towards each other A n d love of culture, full of friendship. Today on this N e w Years D a y I greet you i n beautiful Peking. O new and great China, Patient and work enwrapped ! Umashankar Joshi Unittj, August-September


November the Seventh, Here men are still steeped in insult and painful sorrow T h e Asoka wheel spins over our heads— The four lion-heads upon the Asoka Pillar— A n d with the silken ropes of secular indifference The country wide snare is laid of a new exploitation. November the Seventh, Around us the cunning python of Anglo-America Tightens even today the coils of deatli. The deceitful pacts of commercial love



Have left no soil beneath our feet A n d the fangs they call freedom, pierce and eat our flesh A n d bones. Bimal Ghose Unity, November 1952 ON AMERICA

But the Asiatic blood also dreams. A n d Korea, mother of our heroism. W h o Knows, some glorious day T h e evenings of Seoul W i l l make— The twilight of American plunder. Trilochan Shastri Untty, Feb.-Marcli 1952



I am a Poet of Famine M y dreams are Dreams of Death M y Spring descends O n the ration queue. M y sleepless nights Are b y watchful sirens rent. M y thrills are at Innocent blood dripping. M y wonders are at Hands cruelly chained. A n d so, I, too, believe Mockeries Are but mellow notes of peace' I, too, see A vow Alert i n every home F o r the fight with the Demon. Sukanta Bhattacharya Unity, May-June 1953




The Onward March Monkeys on machine might descend; terrible their pranks ; To think thus and tremble or rage in violence; Spiritual safety this ? Better be men. B u m white light of sense; so ; Not blacking out of w i l l and feeling to order— Straight our words: "The monkey gods w i l l perish if we remain men" Whatever happens. Millions of us shall not bow our heads. Heat and Thunder Pass the Day. (Choms) Barricades we b u i l d : W i t h life's scimitar w e l l stop them the destroyers ! Raise the song : "The dark hordes they won't last, ah N o !" A m i y a Chakrabarty Anti-Fascist Traditions in Bengal SHARPEN YOUR SICKLE W I T H STRONG


O Kisan, my brother. Press your sickle with strong hands As you sharpen it against the whetstone. W h e n the time comes for harvesting. W i t h your sickle you w i l l gather a golden harvest. If the robber comes to rob you. W i t h yom- sickle you w i l l cut off his throat. So, press your sickle with strong hands. As you sharpen it against the whetstone. Hemanga Biswas Anti-Fascist Traditions in Bengal


A l l is possible If we pledge ourselves To perform the impossible. M a y our tumultuous song break forth In notes of thunder,


As we sing to the clang Of our chains breaking one after another U n t i l man stands free. Jyotirindra Maitra AnU-Fasoist Traditions in Bengal



O h ! on life's peak. L e t me have the glory of death. N o b l i n d accident ! W h y i n this world-wide war M i d d l e class Calcutta seeks pity from bloodred battle­ fields ! E m p t y the role of the leaders of the peoples, fill it, our Heroes ! L e t foxes confer i n secret; yet there are China and the U.S.S.R. T h e farmers and workers of all lands pour their manhood. T o redeem the wages of selfishness. Into the foundations of the established. Bishnu D e y Anti-Fascist Traditions in Bengal


O raise the banner and let us Thunder W e resist the japs and put them Under; T h e Jap planes come, we know T o Plunder What care we, who threatens T o . strip Our land ? we are ready to come T o grips Com^age is ours and we take the Whip W e march united, no more Asunder. Subhas Mukherjee Translated by Bishnu Dey People's War




Chorus : W h e n arises the question : Destruction or creation? In our eyes bums a fiery flame A n d we declare— "Creation, creation and creation forever l" W h e n arises tiie question W a r or Peace? W e err not i n our choice F o r we declare— "Peace, Peace and Peace forever !" N o more bloodshed—^never again ! N o more destmction—never again ! N o more tears of mother and children—^never again ! N o more bloodshed, destruction or war—never again ! Salil Choudhury Translated from Bengali by Subrata Banerjee Indian Literature, Vol. 2,


T H E BACKGROUND TO T H E BENGAL SCHOOL A N D A S T U D Y O F IT'S L I M I T A T I O N S T H E greatest problem of contemporary Indian art springs from the oscillation between 'tradition' and modernity' to w h i c h the Indian artist subjects himself. Yet the greatest para­ dox is that Bengali art i n the early twentieth century is not lineally descended from the historical Indian tradition. I n fact it was the disruption of this tradition that created a vacuum, which the Bengal School tried to fill with its attempts at revivalism. The spirit of Macaulay's Minutes (1835) haunted educational reforms i n India even into the twentieth century. There was criticism as well as approval from the Indians as a new English educated elite had been created. Some of them took private art lessons from the numerous European artists who had come to India i n the wake of the East India Company. Their tastes were formed b y the current art trends i n Britain. According to Herman Goetz this art was merely a rehash of Greece—^Roman Renaissance and medieval reminiscences i n improved technique but of weakened sensitiveness; however they were convinced of its superiority over all the other 'Barbarian' creations of mankind.' (Lalitkala Contemporary V o l . I p. 11,) A section of Indians accepted this view and they were the products of the new art school set up b y the British Government. The Victorian reaction against industrialisation led to an awareness of Indian designs and handicrafts. It was to feed the demand for new designs that a central school for industrial art was founded i n Bengal. This was later converted into the Government School of art when L o r d Northbrook was the Governor General of India. H e added an art gallery to it. T h e whole aim of the British now centred on creating a new class of educated Indians whose tastes would be so modulated that they would be willing to buy British industrial goods and in turn bring out small objects of art which would find a ready market i n Europe. T h e art schools set up i n Madras, Bombay and Calcutta were busy turning out a new set of artisans—hke Annanda Charan Bagchi who set up lithographic presses, where the present day Calender art owed its origin.




In contrast was the gentleman artist, secure i n his private wealth—Raja Ravi Varma whose mythological figrues i n Euro­ pean grab and methods of representational execution created a popular art form when ' L a x m i ' resembled "Venus." Swami Vivekananda, the apostle of militant nationalism expressed his strong disapproval of this form. T h e imposition of this alien standard of aesthetics was fos­ tered b y the patemahstic measures of the British and the debasement,of taste among the elites. The hunt for a 'National art' was a reaction against this. T h e two men who are mainly considered responsible for this are E . B . Havel] and Abanindranath Tagore. Indian art was declared to be dead. (The dialogue between Cecil Benns, the Principal of the Government A r t College i n Bombay, and E . B . H a v e l l illustrates the official attitude regarding revival of art i n India). Abanindranath and Havell following the orientalists turned for the 'Great A r t Tradition' of India i n Archeology and the 'Shilpa Shastras' (ancient caimons of art). Abanindranath also explored the Persian miniatures, the court paintings of the Mughals and the Rajputs. Their attempt was to turn the atten­ tion of the educated Indian towards a new aesthetics. Abanin­ dranath trained by European artists like Palmer and Ghilardi had already experienced the inadequacy of this training to ex­ press his own experiences. H e had started painting the RadhaKrishna Scenes i n the style of medieval Indian miniatures. A n alternative was offered to h i m b y Havell. Abanindranath joined the Government A r t School i n 1905 as the Vice-Principal. I n 1907 was established the Indian Society of Orieiital art. T h e society started running a school. So simultaneously through the official art school as well as through private enterprise the new form of 'Traditional Indian Art' was becoming institution­ alised. Nationalism, mainly 'Swadeshi' as understood b y Rabindra­ nath provided the major basis of inspiration and A n a n d Coomaraswamy's A r t and Swadeshi was considered as the manifesto of the new movement. Yet the national art by invoking the Indian myths, ancient Sanskrit texts, also tales like Arabian nights as their subjects, and a stylised lyrical form, reinforced the metaphysical and transcendental character of Indian existence, a particular aspect upheld b y European Orientalists against which the British



government had no objection. T h e lack of political content and contemporary reality i n Indian national art posed no threat to the rulers. Abanindranath's greatest contribution to Indian art is con­ sidered to be his ability to teach and inspire a new generation of talented Bengalis whose varied attempts have been brac­ keted together as the products of the 'Bengal School'. They left their marks in different provinces of India, they became art instructors in various art colleges and created a centre i n the K a l a Bhavan at Shantiniketan with Nandalal Bose as the symbol of the rigid national standard of art. Yet on subtler terms, the Bengal School remained victims of the colonial context, for i n their narrow categorisation and interpretation of national heri­ tage, they conformed to the policies of the British Government. W h e n artists i n Bengal faced the problems of expressing con­ temporary reality, they found themselves entangled i n the fetters of a limited art form which had gained universal accep­ tance as the National art of India. The first protest against the Bengal School through an orga­ nised artistic effort came from the Calcutta group. According to M r . Prodosh Das» Gupta one of the founder members of the Calcutta group: "The years 1940-43 were among the most eventful i n our re­ cent history. This period saw an increasing secularisation i n politics and an expansion i n the democratic consciousness i n our country. This change is of fundamental importance to the un­ derstanding of modem art since it provides its new ideals. Th3 great French movements i n art—^Impressionism, Cubism, Sur­ realism, etc., all evolved through this changed ideal i n art. I n our country too, with the great impact of the 2nd world War, perceptible social, political and economic changes made inroads into the lives of the Bengali. A d d e d to that, horrors of the Bengal famine of 1943 shook the very basis of the old values of humanism. These were dark days for Bengal. Famine and pestilence were then stalking the land. The barbarity and heartlessness all round moved us, the members of the Calcutta Group, deeply; some of us were in­ fluenced by the Marxist philosophy of Communism. Sporadic outbursts were evinced in the other creative fields as well. The Indian peoples' Theatre Associations and the Anti-Facist Writers and Artists' Associations were b o m about the same time with




direct and tacit support o£ most of the well-known intellec­ tuals, writers, artists, actors, dancers, musicians and film makers. Thus the birth of a second renaissance i n Bengal was i n the oiBng, as i f automatically, under the compelling situation to forge a new cultural revolution." From Lalitkala



A n unpardonable lag on the part of the Marxist art critics and the Calcutta group of painters is that they failed to recog­ nize and draw inspiration from the pioneering work done b y late Gaganendra N a t h Tagore. H e was the first Indian painter of protest against the Raj and his painting captioned 'Peace re­ established i n Punjab' i n the wake of the terrible British repres­ sion after the Jallianwala B a g massacre provoked L o r d Ronaldsay to cut short his visit to a Calcutta exhibition. His satirical paintings on political and social maladies of his times make h i m the first exponent of social reahsm i n Indian painting. Marxist art critics have given much attention to Jamini Ray's folk motif. But Ray never cared to reflect contemporaneousness i n his creation, •

O N T H E SOCIAL B A C K G R O U N D O F CONTEMPORARY INDIAN PAINTING (With Particular Reference to Bengal) T H E RECENT interest i n painting among a certain section of cul­ tured Indians is generally credited to Bengal. I n the South, Raja Ravi Verma had been doing his best to revive it through his own creations. B u t their quahty defeated his intentions. It was, how­ ever, i n the Government A r t School at Chowringhee i n Calcutta that the seed-plot was laid by the fostering care of Principal Havell. A t the other end of the city, at Jorasanko, Abanindra Nath Tagore, with the help of his brothers Gaganendra and Samarendra Nath, and under the inspiration of their uncle, the Poet, had been collecting art treasures from dealers who had neither the business acumen nor the aesthetic eyes of their fellow i n the West. Abanindra Nath himself had passed through the psychological stages inevitable to the Indian of this period. H e had imbibed from a European tutor the secrets of Western art, painted portraits in the European manner, but was not satisfied with the principles of European art and guessed the existence of another set of values on which Indian artists had worked and were alleged to be still working. A tour i n Northern India was undertaken and i n the cities of Hindustan the beauty of M u g h a l art was revealed. W h e n he returned to Calcutta, experiments in pigments were made. Havell prevailed upon Abanindra Nath to join the school as its Vice-Principal and carry out their Common ideas. These two progenitors gathered around them a band of dis­ ciples, Nandalal, Asit Kumar, Venkatappa, Suren Ganguly, Samarendra Gupta, Kshitindra Mazumdar, Sailendra N . D e , H a k i m Muhammad Khan, Bireswar Sen, Sami-uz-Zaman, M u k u l D e and- others. L a d y Herringham wanted a few assistants to copy the Ajanta paintings. The desciples twice went to Ajanta and came back confident i n the recognition of the common tradition. Another trip to the Bagh Caves was arranged. Baron Carmichael, the E a r l of Ronaldshay, Maharajas Burdwan and Tagore, Sir John Woodroffe, Sir Kesteven, M r . Ponten-MuUar, M r . Rothenstein, M r . Blount, D r . Coomarswamy, M r . O. C .



Ganguly, sympathised, interpreted, and encouraged. The Bengal Government, ever-sohcitous of a non-pohtical revival of ancient culture, gave Rs. 10,000/- a year for the Oriental A r t Society. A n n u a l exhibitions were held, classes started, meetings arranged, distinguished lecturers invited. T h e Rupam, i n its days, the finest Art Journal i n the East, was its official organ with M r . O. C . Ganguly as its editor. Since then, the renaissance i n Paint­ ing i n Bengal never tvuned back till it conquered the artistic sense of educated India. To-day, the once Bengali School has come to be recognised as modem Indian Painting. I n its deeper origins, attitudes and influence the Bengah School is a misnomer. Its claims can best be judged from . the points of view of history and aesthetics. Historically, it was taken to be a link i n the long chain of traditions, Ajanta, Bagh, Sigirya, Sittanavasal, Rajasthan paint­ ings, illuminated manuscripts, chiefly Jain, Mughal, Himalayan, Kangra and BasoU schools, with Lahore, Lucknow and Patna "Qualams" as decadent variations, down to the Kalighat pat. Kalighat is of course i n Calcutta and one would have expected the Calcutta artists to have drunk from the isources of inspira­ tion which nearest to them. B u t Kalighat may at best be detect­ ed i n the paintings of two, and only two artists, Sunayani D e b i and Jamini Roy, and that too, i n recent years. In the main, the source of Bengali Paintings, as of nearly every other cultureform, was outside Bengal. The lesson of this traditional Indian continuity was, however, not historical but aesthetic. This is the most interesting point about our modem painting. O n analysis it w i l l support our main thesis about Bengali Culture that it is unrelated to the fuller historical process of social deve­ lopment i n Bengal but only an instance of arrested growth. The gift of history was confined to the subject-matter of painting. Mythology was the main repertoire. T h e chief gods and goddesses of the Puranas took a holiday from their heaven and came outing i n Bengal. Their selection was left to the native temperament of the artists. Some took Shiva, others took Vishnu or his later manifestations, the tender ones being always preferred to the tough. E v e n the "Puranic" Kings and the mythical personages on the waiting list for heavenly admit­ tance were not neglected. Buddha, and the Bodhisattvas, Asoka, and such others filled the canvas. Shakuntala, Meghduta, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and many other literary works which


Russia by Rabindranath Tagore



Village by Jamini

Blacksmith Roy





by Atul Bose


by Kamrul




Unwanted by Surya





by Prodosh Dasgupta


Sleeps by Deviprasad Roychowdhury




had acqmred the prestige of arlcientness were utihsed. W h y this atavism ? was a question no one ever asked. The character of Mythology is organic inasmuch as it partakes of the collective life i n its social struggle with nature. In its purest form it is non-dogmatic and non-rehgious i n the sense that it does not posit "faith". The dissociation of Mythology from rehgion registers a division of society into two sections, one that hves on faith and the other compelled to live by it as a substitute-mode of l i v i n g s ; i n other words, into two economic groups. Hence a re-birth of Mythology represents an attitude of m i n d on the part of those who believe that economic classes are immutable and that the poverty of the subordinate class is merited. This renaissance of mythology is not genuine from the point of view of religion, either. It is equivalent to the false pangs before the actual pain of dehvery. N o w we know of the economic situation of Bengal i n the iirst decade of the present century. The position for the lower middle class was just appearing to be hopeless. University degrees were no longer the passport to secure services. N o opening was to be seen. Nationalism had come to bring about a sort of unity. But being unrelated to the economic realities of the day it ended i n emotionalism. The new Painting was the least political, therefore the least real, or, as it was said, the most disinterested and aesthetic among the varied cultural pur­ suits of the day, even more than music i n which national songs predominated. T o put it blimtly, the comparative purity of Bengal painting was mainly due to the inability of its exponents to find Government jobs or at best prompted by an intuitive appreciation of the crisis that had not yet ripened. Mythology was i n many ways a liberation, if not an escape. Purely aesthetically, the achievements of the Bengali artists were satisfying, but within well-defined limits of technique. Three things were rejected in the name of Indian art—^mass depth, and architectural composition. Emphasis was laid down upon the inner harmony of the artist's personahty which was supposed automatically to reflect itself on the canvas. T h e result was a highly developed lyric feeling. A tour i n any of the exhibitions of the Oriental Society of Arts was almost a plastic counterpart of dipping into Tagore's works. Personal aesthetic sensitiveness could not go any further. A n d yet, it d i d not end i n solipsism or sur-realiism. Memories of ancient



myths saved the Bengah School from collective aphasia for the time being. The inner contradiction which had thrown up all the latest instances of social disorder i n Western Europe had not reached Bengal. That disorder had come there i n the wake of fully developed capitalism. H e r e i n Bengal, capitalistic deve­ lopment had been truncated by economic forces inasmuch as the natural denouement of native commerce-capital into indus­ trial capital was blocked and its releasing energies were made to lose themselves i n land-ownership and the salariat through the channel of Permanent Settlement and the new educational system of Thomas Babington Macaulary. Any evaluation of modern Indian painting i n its technical side should pass rapidly from an expression of national grati­ tude to a statement of the suspicion that it is not genuinely Indian. The conscious and the unconscious imitations of the Sino-Japanese style are not referred t o ; i n fact, they had entered into Indian painting at a much earlier period. T h e grounds of suspicion are different. In India, the artist had never separated himself from the artisan. Both were craftsman. They were all anonymous. Painting had seldom been separated from architecture. It. bore no description of the subject-matter.. B u t in Bengal, painting began to be taken as a Fine A r t divorced from the crafts ; the painter was very well-advertised; he claim­ ed independence for his own technique; his subject-matter was poetically displayed. Certainly, aU this d i d not follow the ancient or the Mediaeval Indian tradition, but sought a univer­ sal, a modem, a purely commercial accent. I n Europe, Fine Arts were separated from the crafts b y the industrial age. T h e artist's name first became known when the craft-guilds became highly exclusive, and feudal or clerical patronage took the artist away from common life. W i t h the decay of feudalism the artist had to look out for customers among the public. H e com­ peted with his feUow-artist for pubhc approval. Competition brought individualism, and commercialism accentuated both. T h e public was of course never the community. It meant those who had money to spare. The capital seldom came from l a n d ; it was gathered from industries, investment or inheritance. A n almost similar thing happened i n Bengal. T h e public had no pretensions to culture. The BengaH Babu was neither so educated nor so prosperous. The professional classes and a few scions of the landed gentry were the only buyers. W h e n the



market was thus hmited, Painting had to be a Fine A r t to flatter bourgeois vanity; its subject had to be rendered exphcit by being named and to look poetical and rehgious (the Bengah bourgeoisie was very lyrical and very religious), and its matter had to advertise itself with an uncommon vulgarity. Thus far Bengali painting shared the fate of European paint­ ing of a 100 years ago. Both countries were witnessing the decay of feudal patronage and craft guilds. There was a parti­ cular dearth of buyers i n Bengal, a fact which can be explained by the side-tracking into the professional class of the bour­ geoisie, chiefly salariat, by the peculiar historical force which combined the political with economic necessities of domination. W h e n the zemindars become only rent-receivers and do not transform themselves into capitalists, when the native compra­ dors do not possess the vision of their natural evolution and are ousted by other provincials, patronage of arts and crafts languishes inexorably. This social situation determined the lack of social content as well as the inadequacy of the technique of Painting i n Bengal and distinguished it from the Western A r t of the nineteenth century. If the Bengali school (in its later aspects, i.e. after 1919) was not purely Indian, much less was it purely plastic. It was an amalgam of plasticity with such literary qualities as story-teUing was required to possess. The best picture aimed at the attain­ ment of musical values. The majority remained just poetic. Others portrayed certain dramatic situations from the bio­ graphies of heroes, historical or legendary. None of them were contemporary. The arts of portraiture and landscape—the two logical developments of representative art, were conspicuous by their absence. W h e n incidents from the lives of ordinary people were drawn, they were highly surcharged with romanticism. The human characters on the canvas, usually, were primitives, and not Bengalis. T h e landscape was seldom urban. (Excep­ tions should, however, be made i n the case of Gaganendranath Tagore). N o w this association of painting with literature, particularly lyric poetry, had as its immediate condition the previous deve­ lopment of literature in the hands of the salariat professional class. But the true reason was not there. If it had been so we would have found greater discontent among the works of the painters who were chiefly recruited from the semi-educated



and the lower middle class. This Bengali painting d i d not show any revolutionary outlook and content for the reason that it did not come i n the wake of any economic revolution and therefore could not anticipate, much less reflect, stiU less re­ present any basic change i n the social relationship. It remained pre-occupied with the older attitudes that had been established a few years earlier by the literatures. This intrinsic aesthetic impurity of Bengali painting (as of Bengali music) is character­ istic. The class that could provide patrOns of art i n its leisure and generate conditions i n which "pure" art could flourish had not been formed. Purity of art-forms is the consequence of clear-cut class-divisions. In the absence of industrialism i n Bengal classes were mixed up. It is only after the war that the classes seemed to be tending towards segregation. The agencies were peculier to Bengal, the Zemindars had been very badly hit by the depression i n jute-prices. The interests of professional classes were beseiged by the unemployed. Agricultural classes were sinking deep into poverty. In other words, after the W a r we witnessed a silent agrarian revolution without the application of science and capi­ tal to agriculture which had been the chief feature of similar revolutions i n Europe. B i g zemindaris changed hands, and the number of intermediate landlords who received rents from medium sized holdings increased. These who were nominally dependent upon land flocked to Calcutta. Tenancy legislations were enacted and they furthered the above tendency. T h e H i n d u - M u s l i m problem illustrated it as well. In the meanwhile the mill-areas near Calcutta began to be manned b y the prole­ tariat from other provinces. The Bengah landless proletariat would hover round their paternal acres rather than join the mills. The Mymensingh invasion of Assam afforded small rehef to the pressure of population on the soil. Besides, Sylhet with its calls on labour is far away. Therefore, the upper middle class separated itself from the lower middle, not by the pressure of forces released by capitalism, but by the artificial stimulus of unemployment, which was only the symptom of divorce from land without the new alliance with industry. The only contact of the Bengali artist with the realities of the new economic order can to-day be established by an efFort of historical imagination. If he takes a bus-trip to Kidderpore or towards Barrackpore he may observe what is happening to the



happening to the country-side near Calcutta. A new type of sympathy is necessary to convert visual observation into motives for creating novel forms of art. Our students of art schools are as yet working out their emotional conflicts. Those among our young who have imaginations imitate Russian posters. W e have yet to wait for revolutionary art. I n the meanwhile, suburban art-forms hold our attention. They may have, new technique; but technical changes can only bind coteries i n bonds of admi­ ration. They w i l l have to be broad-based upon socio-economic changes i h modes of living i n order to be socially valuable i n the first instance and aesthetically valuable i n the last. L e t it be admitted, however, that the Bengali School of Paint­ ing has had a tremendous success outside Bengal, Benares, Lucknow, Jaipore, Lahore, Rajahmundry, Madras, D e l h i and Dehra D u n , no important centre, with the exception of Bombay, has escaped its germinating influence. In those cities, interest i n Painting has been aroused and young men being trained. A few are striking new paths, though the majority are still treading the recent old. The Bengali School of Painting has even annexed the India House i n London. In the houses of rich men, modern Bengali paintings, or their prints are proudly displayed. But meanwhile, i n Calcutta, some young artists have been exhibiting their paintings and sculptures i n separate exhibitions. Boldness is their common virtue. But i n art, boldness of con­ ception and execution has to be distinguished from that loud­ ness which comes as a reaction to some previous accusation or from a feeling of weakness. Besides, a show of strength can be posed, especially, when examples of post-war European art can be easily bought. Some of the expressionist, cubistic, and con­ structionist attempts raise a smile when they do not raise hopes of the day that may or may not come. The only sign of hope lies i n the social content in the pictures of a few young rebels. The paintings of Rabindra Nath Tagore and Jamini Roy are the logical conclusions of tendencies indicated in the earlier paragraphs. They show the inherent contradictions which the partial economic development of Bengal was to bring to the surface at some stage or other. In these, the non-literary ele­ ment is sought to be eschewed. The most curious feature is that the one man who has been responsible for the preponde­ rating influence of literature over every other cultural activity



should i n the latest manifestation of his genius cease to be literary and even lyrical. T h e elemental quality of some of Tagore's works i n colours stands out i n rehef. Jamini Roy has passed through the whole gamut of artistic training. H e dwelt for a while upon what may be superficially called the native KaUghat pat. In reality, however, being baulked of the vision that can alone come when the social hfe of the community to which he belongs is progressing naturally and releasing the energies required for a genuine rapport between the artist's life and that of the community, he has rejected aU the trappings •decreed by attitudes of the hour and clung to the basic verities of painting. I n this setting, he is most sincere artist. H i s sinceriety is the logical reduction of our failure. N o more signi­ ficant artist lies i n India to-day. T o call h i m a mere progressive i n terms of ideologies is hardly fair to his achievements. It seems then that there is an urgent need for change i n the form and content of our F i n e Arts. A few changes are taking place, some worthless, others of interest from the point of view of technique only. Technical changes however desirable are not altogether significant. E v e n as they go, they are less valu­ able than those introduced by the first batch of artists who were directly inspired by Rabindra N a t h Tagore. Only those changes which are prompted b y the compelling necessity of changes i n our attitudes, i.e. occasioned b y the basic transformations i n our modes of living are important. Once they are effected, the nimiber of experiments increases, technical innovations become real, and F i n e Arts play their historical role and the emotional content falls into Une with the environment. N o artist can live like a Crusoe. Therefore no art can progress unless society changes through crisis. Rabindra N a t h Tagore was wrong when he called the artist an isolated or lonely figure, though he was historically right. F o r i n India the artist was compelled to be so. I n Bengal, more so than anywhere. Dhurjati Prasad Mukherjee New

Indian Literature

Vol, 1, No. 1,





T H E SIXTH ALL-INDIA C O N F E R E N C E O F T H E INDIAN PEOPLES' T H E A T R E ASSOCIATION [Marxist Cultural Movement in India: Chronicles and Documents (1936-47) opened with notes on the growth of the movement of Progressive Writers' Asso­ ciation. This volume begins with documents and reports • on the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association as weU as important articles by various writers on the movement covering the period 1948-64. The materials have been arranged chronologically. The second Congress of the Commrmist Party of India held in Calcutta in February 1948 adopted resolution on the so-called 'left sectarian line of approach' of CPI. This approach has been fvurther analysed and identified in the reports and reviews of the all-India Conference of the I P T A held in Allahabad. Progressive Writers' Asso­ ciation did not formally adopt the resolution though many of its members participated in the debate. Later on, I P T A withdrew its own resolution and started a new campaign for Peace Movement. There are ample reports and materials on the revival and expan­ sion of I P T A throughout the length and breadth of the country. A n all-India conference was held in Delhi in December-January 1957-58, but that was the last allIndia conference of IPTA. In 1964 the Communist Party of India was splitted and since then I P T A lost its allIndia character. Notes on the activities of progressive cultural movement in the name of I P T A in various states since 1964 have also been included in this part.—^EETTOB]

The Allahabad Conference was a land mark i n the history of the People's Theatre movement, because this Conference work­ ed out the correct ideological stand of the People's Theatre movement i n the current political situation and the correct organisational structure necessary to implement its programme. This Allahabad Conference wiU remain memorable i n the his­ tory of the People's Theatre movement for its bold declaration of struggle and its rejection of the path of compromise which was being followed so long. F r o m 4th February to 9th February (1949-ed) nearly two hundred delegates and observers from different provinces at­ tended this six day long Conference. Only the delegates from 4



South India could not come because of the extreme repressive pohcy of the Madras Government. They sent a message ex­ pressing their sohdarity wifii the struggle. T h e Conference started with an open session on the first day. T h e election of the Presidium itself made it clear that the dele­ gates had come determined to direct the shaping of the People's Theatre movement as a cultural movement of the revolutionary masses. So, A n n a Bhau Sathe, the worker-poet from Maha­ rashtra and Dasarath L a i , the peasant-poet and lyricist whom the Bihar Government had sent to jail with his entire troupe i n an attempt to silence his irrepressible voice, were elected to the Presidium. A n d the last to be elected was the renowned critique, P. C . Gupta, professor of Allahabad University. T h e Conference p a i d tribute to the martyrs at the beginning and took a vow i n their name. Explaining the background of this Conference and the responsibilities involved, the General Secretary said that a mere lip-service w i l l not be enough but the real tribute to the martyrs w i l l be to really fulfil the vow. O n the 5th of February, provincial reports were submitted at the delegates' Conference and discussions were conducted on the reports. E a c h report spoke of the members' activeness .so far as their awareness and understanding of the mistakes were concerned. Confusions of the past, weakness of the present and the course of action to be taken i n future emerged clearly before the members i n the light of the bitter struggle the I P T A had had to carry on i n the past one year against the reactionary forces (in and outside the organisation). It emerged clearly from each report that it is because of the failure of the policy of compromise accepted i n the Ahmedabad Conference held i n December 1947 that an atmosphere of frustration and confusion prevailed. T h e D i x o n Lane murder (one I P T A member and another sympathiser were shot dead b y the miscreants of the Congress Party while they were attending a cultviral function of the Bengal branch of the IPTA-ed) shocked the Association to the awareness that a new course of action had to be taken. The policy of repression unleashed with the D i x o n L a n e mur­ der i n Calcutta was continued also in other provinces. In the face of this crisis, the I P T A began to think of possible ways of reorganising its forces. T h e pressure of reality made compromise untenable, local conferences started being held all over the different provinces i n the light of this new experience. Though



these conferences adotped a programme that was ideologically militant, it could do but nominal patching u p as far as the organisation was concerned. So the task of the Allahabad con­ ference had been to work out an unanimously accepted objec­ tive, as well as to decide upon an organisational structure i n accordance with this. It may be that many other old members w i l l fail to come through the present acid test and leave the organisation. It would be natural for these people masquerading as friends to develop cold feet when the I P T A is determined to take its place beside the revolutionary people engaged i n fighiting against ex­ ploitation. It would be better for the I P T A i f such parasitic creatinres leave the organisation. I n the evening a resolution mourning the death of Biswanath Mukherjee, the office Secretary of I P T A and a foimder member of the D e l h i branch, was adopted i n the open session and mes­ sages from diiferent progressive organisations, writers and artis­ tes from India and abroad were read out. Prof. Gupta i n his presidential address said, "The problem of fashioning a demo­ cratic culture for the Indian masses has become to-day inse­ parably entwined with the programme of fashioning a demo­ cratic society. Culture to-day cannot progress cut off from the democratic revolution. The ideals with which the I P T A is firmly resolved to proceed, leaves me i n no doubt that a great and brilliant future awaits the I P T A movement." • After the open session cultural programmes started before a 1500-strong audience. Mass songs from the Assam, Bengal and Maharastra squads and a few Panjabi songs from' the D e l h i squad gave a vivid picture of the post-independence situation. 'Yadu K i Kurshi' (The magic seat)—a play b y the Bombay squad subjected the Security A c t of the Bombay Government to relent­ less satire. O n the Bth February three resolutions were unanimously accepted. T h e sum and substance of the first one was, thie pledge to march side by side with the sti-uggle of workers, peasant and the petty bourgeoisie for a new democracy and to wield its cultural weapons against the Government's brutal policy of repression. T h e second resolution was a pledge to resist uncompromisingly any attack launched by the Govern­ ment on culture. T h e third expressed the solidarity with the struggle of progi-essive writers and artists all over the world



against the oppresive pohcy of reactionary forces. A t the open session i n the evening delegates from different provinces spOke spiritedly on these resolutions. 'Katewala' (Signal man)—a play by the D e l h i Squad on railway workers, 'Kollar and 'Vallari' dances from Maharashtra and mass songs from different pro­ vinces were presented i n the cultural programmes performed on that night. A t the delegates' Conference on the 7th, the General Secretary submitted a report on the financial situation of the Association. T h e provinces shared among themselves the responsibihty of fulfilling the target of Rupees four thousand for the central budget for the coming year. It was decided that an affihation fee of Rupees twenty only for each new branch and 25% of the money collected frOm the members of the affihated branches w i l l be deposited at the Central Office. It was also decided that the report on 'Dharti ke L a i ' ( I P T A fihn-ed) would be immediately sent to every branch for discussion. A t .the noon session of the delegates on that day, the draft committee presented a draft of the manifesto. F r o m the per­ ceptive and forceful discussion b y the delegates and observers the fact became very clear that though I P T A is not the sole property of any particular party—^is it neither a neutral orga­ nisation. This Association w i U be building u p the People's Theatre movement on behalf of the revolutionary masses as a part of them on the one hand and w i l l be resisting on the other hand attacks made on culture and artists and writers. Through this fight it w i l l unite the writers and artistes who still remain outside and bring them closer to the revolutionary masses. F r o m within this democratic revolution w i U emerge a cultural army, class-conscious artistes and democratic art. This proposed resolution was generally accepted and the draft committee was commissioned to add a few unanimous decisions and to rewrite it i n clear cut and more direct language. In the open session delegates from the AU-India Trade U n i o n Congress and Progressive Writers' Association congratulated the Conference. A long message on behalf of the A l l India Students' Federation was read out. This was the first time that I P T A received any such message from fraternal revolutionary organisations. T h i s was definitely a step towards making cul­ tural workers partners i n the greater struggle—^the foundation on which the new ideology of the I P T A would flourish. Bengal squad's 'Nayanpur'—^^a play on the peasaiits' struggle for land



rights, "Mount Batten Mangal Kabya"—a satirical song by the Assam Squad and the mime dance of the Allahabad Squad, W e W a n t Light'—a story of the press workers' life and struggle were on the programme that night. 'Mount Batten Mangal Kabya' was greeted w i t h prolonged applause from all sides. O n l y like a widow's mite a local congressman stood u p and started shouting. W h e n he d i d not stop despite repeated re­ quests, the volimteers backed b y the audience's consent removed him forcibly from the auditoriimi. T h e n Omar Sheik came on to the dais to present revolutionary songs and the auditorium resounded w i t h the slogan—^"Long L i v e I P T A " . 8th February dawned amidst great tension. The newspapers were full of false allegations. T h e congressmen and the police were astir. It only made the I P T A delegates more determined. It became obvious against whom the fight was and on whose behalf. A n d it was on that day that the most important reso­ lution—^the resolution on organisation was discussed. However miUtant the programme might be, to gain a n 5 ^ i n g from it and to b u i l d u p the movement on this line a strong organisation based on the stated principles was needed. O n the basis of this criticism the General Secretary presented a draft resolution on organisation. Three points to this resolution deserve attention; first, the People's Theatre movement w i l l have to be buUt am­ ong different revolutionary classes as an integral pEirt of their struggles. Secondly, since I P T A has resolved to transform itself from one phase to another—^it should be kept i n m i n d that the present phase is a transitional one. Thirdly, though People's Theatre w i l l grow up as a part of different mass movements its own independent organisation and leadership should emerge from within itself. This resolution was unanimously accepted after detailed discussion. Afterwards the new executive committee was elected with the following members: A n n a Bhau Sathe—President, Syamlal (Delhi) and Narahari Kaviraj (Bengal)—^Vice Presidents, Niranjan Sen, General Secretary, Gavankar (Bombay) and Nemichand Jain—Jt. Secretaries. R. Rama Rao (Bombay) Treasiu-er. The Secretary of the reception committee thanked the people of Allahabad for their co-operation i n the final evening session



and A n n a Bhau Sathe, the president, dehvered the concluding speech on the basis of the resolutions taken i n the conference. Messages were received from Samuel Sillen, the editor of "Masses and M a i n Stream", N e w Y o r k ; Artistes Association of B u l g a r i a ; Jack L i n d s a y ; Peggy Mclover, the acting editor. N e w Theatre, Great B r i t a i n ; Karslavev, the director. National Thea­ tre of Sofia, B u l g a r i a ; and British E q u i t y Council. Messages were also received from A l l India Students' Federation, A l l India Trade Union Congress and Progressive Writers' Associa­ tion.







Attention: District and Police Authorities, (West Bengal). Express letter N o . 511 (13) Pr. S/100/49 dated 17th June,; 1949, from the Secretary to the Government of West Bengal (Home Press). T t is likely that some organisations, such as the A l l India People's H i e a t r e Association and the A l l India Progressive Writers' Association with communist afiSliation and leaning may be organising pubhc dramatic performances, song etc. with the object of spreading communist propaganda. Should any attempt be made b y them to stage drama or - other performances i n public places, these should be stopped b y District Magistrates as far as possible b y the use of the Dramatic Performances A c t 1876 ( X I X 1876) or any other l a w which may be applicable. District Magistrates are hereby empowered to take action under 3 of the Dramatic performances A c t on their own initiativie. N o previous reference need be made to the Provincial Government, but all action taken on these orders may afterwards be reported for the information of the Government'. (The

Nation, 4th September


It may be interesting to compare the above circular with another issued by the British Indian Government i n 1890 i n order to impose restrictions on dramatic performances i n Bengal:



Copy of circular N o . 5 1 / S B dated 3.3.1890 from the Chief Sec­ retary to the Government of Bengal. 'From enquiries made it appears, whilst the number of theatrical companies i n these provinces are on the increase, no attempt is made to supervise their performances and take systematic and efficient steps to prevent the production of improper plays, ... > The lieutenant Governor is of opinion that some measures should be taken i n this direction and he accordingly vests- all District Officers and i n Calcutta, the Commissioner of Pohce, with powers to take action, whenever circumstances reiider it neces­ sary under Section 7 A c t X I X of 1876. W h e n from :information so obtained it appears desirable that a performance should be prohibited under these powers given b y Section 3, the Chief Secretary should be atonce communicated with and the orders of the Government awaited (File N o . D / D / G 6 ^ 3 ) .


The main problem facing I P T A to-day is its organisational policy and its correct form. Although I P T A s ideology has gra­ dually crystalized through the struggle of the f>ast on^ year, the movement has not strictly followed the dotted line. It has not been able to provide plays and sOngs which can be forceful enough as weaopns with which to carry the struggle of the re­ volutionary masses forward. Consequently, inspite of an over­ all awareness o f the ideological principles, the movement has slackened, and is not progressing on revolutionary lines. The main reason for this is that-after deciding the ideology of the People's Theatre Movement against the background of the democratic revolution, it is vital to build an organisation along this line. O n l y then does the ideology take concrete shape through the organisational structure, becomes clear and living arid no longer remains a mere slogan. O n l y then is it possible to build u p the People's Theatre movement as an integral part of the struggle of the revolutionary masses, to inspire and equip the revolutionary forces with a cultural weapon and create signifi­ cant art. Hence the fundamental job of the I P T A is to reshape the organisational structure i n accordance with its programme. T h e primary task is to gra:sp the basic content of the programmes adopted at the A l l India Conference of I P T A . After two days'



deliberation tiie delegates at the Conference have declared the fundamental ideological principles i n clear and precise t e r m s . . . . T h e world to-day has been divided into distinct camps through and after the last war. . . . It has been shown comprehensively, that on one side there is the tremendous power and irresitable progress of the demo­ cratic, anti-imperiahst, antifascist camp and on the other side the attempt b y the defeated and terrified imperialist, anti­ democratic and re-actionary camp to prolong its dying moment through ruthless repression and heinous conspiracy. T h e latter Camp is led by American Imperiahsm which is providing arms to the other members of its camp. T h e I P T A has declared itself to be on the side of the demo­ cratic, anti-imperialist camp—^to be a comrade-in-arms i n the struggle for democracy and sOciaUsm waged b y peasants, workers and intellectuals. I P T A has pledged to develop the movement on these principles: 1. T h e Peoples Theatre movement should be consciously and relentlessly built up through the struggles of the different sections of the people and through day-to-day movements for democracy. 2. It shall b u i l d u p a resistance movement against re-action­ ary views and attacks on cultural movement. It shall combat the economic crisis i n the lives of the exploited, professional artistes and writers and consequent prostitu­ tion of their talents to re-actionary forces. Through this movement it shall unite the artistes under the banner of the democratic front. F r o m this programme itself emerge the basic organisational principles and structure: (a) T h e People's Theatre movement should emerge princi­ pally through different mass movements. (b) It should have an independant organisation on the basis of these movements and an able and conscious leadership. (c) T o bring about a qualitative change i n the People's Theatre movement and b u i l d u p a movement conscious of class struggles—the fundamental task according to the programme w o u l d be, to build a People's Theatre out of the organised mass movements of the workers, peasants, students, youths and middle class people. So the entire energy of the present I P T A should be consciously em-



ployed for this purpose. N o t that an attempt was not made i n this direction when the mistakes were identified, through last one year's struggles, but we failed due to the lack of proper insight, for instance, it was decided i n the I P T A Office as to which members would go to working class slums, factories and villages. But heady emotionahsm prevented the realisation that it was not possible under the present circumstances to decide i n this manner i n which mass organisation our presence is urgently re­ quired and the possibility hes for us to work there. Although we mouthed ideological principles very often we failed to make real progress due to the fact that we had a very vague idea about how to develop I P T A unit inside militant mass movements, what relationship we w o u l d have with a particular organisation and what w i l l be the duties of our organisers who w o u l d be deputed to these organisations. T h e movement has remained practically where it was. So it is of prime importance to rectify these mistakes. 1. W h e n the People's theatre is developed among the move­ ment of militant workers, peasants and youth it should grow as an inseparable part of the organised mass move­ ments. As a part of its day-to-day struggle it should carry the mass movement forward b y supplying it with cultural weapons. It should extend the frontier of the democratic front by drawing i n more people who remain i n the peri­ phery of the struggle and require conviction about the ideals and programmes of the struggle. A n d likewise the People's Theatre movement as a part of the general mass movement shall become class conscious, militant and effective. Every member shall become both a soldier of the cultural front and of the greater struggle. O n the other hand the work of the building up of People's Theatre movement should not rest solely on the People's Theatre workers—^but shall natiu-ally grow up also under the leadership of organised mass-fronts. 2. Those comrades of I P T A who are being deputed to work i n mass organisations should not consider themselves as short-term instructors or outsiders but as a part of those mass organisations. S. O n the basis of this understanding when the I P T A work­ ers of a particular mass organisation decide something



amongst themselves—^they should make their decisions knovra to the workers and leaders of that mass organisa­ tion and with their consent and active support—^they should build firm foundation of People's Theatre move­ ment along with the growth of that mass movement. Before we decide on our duties and the mode of action on the basis of the fundamental principles outhned above—we must keep i n m i n d the present state of the organisation of I P T A . Only then the correct form may be bmlt up. T h e present state is that after seven years of movements, a few middle class artistes and talents have gathered round I P T A . D u e to defects and confusions prevaihng i n the organisation, many of them aire incapable of building u p the organisation with changed out­ look and the movement has not developed as a mass movement to enable them to find a place somewhere i n it and there are others who have had no scope for it. So except a few everyone has to work outside the I F T A although they wished otherwise. Keeping this condition i n mind only able and leading workers of I P T A should go into the rhass movements—^the rest of the members w i l l conduct the middle-class squads as local branches —^but not as independant drama or music squad. If this exodus affects the strength of the squad and the remaining members fail to carry on I F T A activity locally, it cannot be helped. Therefore People's Theatre movements w i l l spread mainly through different mass organisations (primarily mass organisa­ tions of workers and peasants) and through regional branches grown out of middle class movements. The latter branches w i l l not constitute the major part of the People's Theatre movement. The branches within the different mass organisations w i l l be its main strength and as they spread and crystalise, the I P T A w i l l change qualitatively and class conscious artistes from the rank of the people w i l l come forward to give leadership. Eventually, gradually, the regional branches w i l l merge with branches grown inside the mass organisation. Before discussing what w i l l be the form and policy of the I P T A i n accordance with .these orgam'sational principles and programmes—it is necessary to decide whether I P T A needs to exist as an independant front at all. O n l y then would the question of form arise on the basic principles. Though it grows as an integral part of the different mass organisations the independant existence of I P T A is vital. A n



independant organisation is necessary to unite as conscious soldiers those who are fighting with cultural weapons to solve the problems within the sphere of art, to make their weapon sharp and effective and to nutralise enemy's attack. A n d it is further necessary to have an able and conscious leadership, which w i l l develop the I P T A movement on the basis of orga­ nised mass movement. A separate organisation is also needed so that a forceful and conscious leadership may arise to build up and direct the peo­ ple's theatre movement on the "basis of the people's strug^e. It is true that the revolutionary force, through struggles creates a possibility for the emergence of a new culture and its cultural army but that army can not spontaneously organise itself into a revolutionary force. Building up of an organised class con­ scious front and leadership through revolutioilary movement is necessary so that the I P T A may carry forward its own pro­ gramme towards fulfilment. (Translated from a rejwrt printed in the second nmnber of the Bengal organ of I P T A 'Lokanatya' edited by Dhiren Ray. This piece was again printed in a compilation named '30 years of drama movemenf edited by Sunil Dutta. Mr. Ray stated that the excerpb were true copy of the cultural bulletin of IPTA.)

R E - O R G A N I S A T I O N O F T H E I.P.T.A.

Important steps for the entire re-organisation of the Indian People's Theatre Association on an All-India scale were taken at a meeting of fourteen provincial representatives and the A l l India General Secretary, M r . Niranjan Sen, at Bombay on M a y 14. (1951-ed) Representatives from West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir, Bombay, Delhi, P E P S U , East Punjab, Ahmedabad, Central India, Kamataka and Tamilnadu attended. M a i n Decision taken were: 1. A n All-India I.P.T.A. Convention is to be held within four months to adopt a draft statement, reorganise the A l l India Committee and prepare for the holding of an A l h India Conference. 2. It was decided to withdraw the manifesto adopted at the Allahabad Conference i n 1949 since this contained a num­ ber of serious errors.



3. It was decided that the organisation should unite all pro­ gressive cultural forces, take the message of peace to the people and create works of art reflecting the real needs and desires of the people. 4. U n t i l the Convention, the All-India office w i l l be situated at 46, DhmimitoUah Street, Calcutta, under the General Secretary himself, to whom all correspondence should be addressed. Earher, a discussion took place on the future policy of the organisation and the past history of I.P.T.A. was reviewed. T h e discussion was based o n reports from the various States where I.P.T.A. groups are functioning. I n D e l h i , the I.P.T.A. group w i t h the help of Shilpi Chakra and other organisations had staged a show for the D e l h i Peace Convention. Attempts were being made to reorganise I.P.T.A. and correct the errors of the past. In P E P S U and East Punjab, the D e l h i Punjabi group was helping to build up the organisation. In P E P S U , three dramas were staged on the theme of peace. T h e dramas and songs were being staged i n numerous towns and villages and i n Patiala, Bhatinda, Benur, Faridhkot and many other places possibilities now existed for the formation of new I.P.T.A. groups. T h e Tanchayet—extempore drama form—^has also been widely used. Altogether I.P.T.A. i n P E P S U has performed before nearly two lakhs of people. In East Pimjab the I.P.T.A. group through its dance dramas, at the Amritsar Peace Conference, gave the lead i n the build­ i n g of a united culttu-al movement i n the State. A drama against recruitment to the armed forces was banned at the eleventh hour. A t the Jullunder District Peace Conference, dance dra­ mas and operettas were performed before a gathering of over 14,000 people. In Bombay, much discussion was i n progress about the errors of past work and the future policy of the organisation. A new Committee was formed and work started recently when the anniversary of the formation of the Bombay group of I.P.T.A. was celebrated. Here Prem Chand's 'Satranj K i Baji' was staged. D r . M u l k Raj Anand, Mrs. Ismat Chugtai, famous writers, and many others were working to effect reorganisation of I.P.T.A. i n the province. A t the moment rehearsals were proceeding on Kri.shan Chander's 'Jharru'. O n June 3, a performance including



songs, dances and a drama was to be staged at the Sunderbai Hah. The Telugu group was staging an adaptation of an English drama, Trogress (Pragati)', b y Atraya, a drama based on the theme of peace. The Gujarati group was also rehearsing a Gujrati version, of the same drama. The Maharashtra group was reorganising its Central troupe, touring Maharashtra and organising new groups throughout the State. The music group, composed of members of all the other language groups, was rehearsing new songs and was being assist­ ed b y prominent artists i n the film world like Hemanta Mukher­ jee and Gita Roy. Unity, June




Q U E S T I O N : what do you think are the most effective forms which should be used i n the Indian theatre ? A N S W E R : I feel that since the breakdown of Indian traditions in the theatre has been fairly complete, we have to create a new tradition from the survivals i n our folk culture as well as from the elements of European technique. In m y opinion, the three-act comedy, which is so beloved of our smart alecs, who have been impressed b y the shoddy com­ mercial drama of Shaftesbury Avenue, has not very much bearing on our problems. T h e three-act play is a pecuharly Western European form suited to those who have dinner at seven and go to the theatre at eight, demanding that they should be able to munch chocolates and drink i n between the acts, as well as to show off their dresses to advantage i n the foyer, and preferably come home as empty as they have gone to the theatre. T h e serious drama of Ibsen, Stringberg and Shaw found itself violating the three act form even in Europe, (Note: Peer Gynt, Man and Superman i n its entirety, etc.,) Our mental habits and social structure always made the theatre the vehicle for certain moral ideas. That is why the Ram Leela recital takes several days of pageantry and perfor­ mance. T h e Nautanki, the Ras and the Jatra are so miscellaneous that they cannot approximate to any known form i n Europe. And the crisis of our lives admits of no Ephemeral compromises.



but demands an intense and vital realisation of our confused society in whatever form becomes imperative from the needs of an integral vision. Therefore, the synthesis between our own forms and the techniques of the West may well make a play run for five hours at a stretch, or all night, as often happens i n the Kathakali dance drama. Also, a l t h o u ^ talking is a national sport of our middle class, the masses only respond to gesture, and I see no reason w h y the bulk of our drama i n the villages should not mix all the seven arts—words, music, dance, painting, costume, stagecraft and natural lighting. I feel that from such experiments as may be made i n this new k i n d of theatre, a new k i n d of drama may also be born. Q U E S T I O N : C o u l d you elaborate a little on this new kind of drama ? A N S W E R : In this context, it is important to note the example of China. W h e n the Chinese people were at war with Japan and newspapers were scarce, and there was the need to tell people what was happening i n the world, the Chinese People's Theatre invented a form called the LIVING NEWSPAPER. In this, the journalists wrote up the news i n dramatic form, using commentary or narrative to tell the story, and enlivening episodes through the actors' ability to portray events. Words, as well as the absence of words, were used to significant effect, and dance was thrown i n occasionally to interpret the inner mood. The Americans, borrowed this form i n the service of Roose­ velt's N e w D e a l , and many living newspapers were written which are models of what a perfect technique can do to make propaganda into art. For agit-prop, purposes i n India, I recommend experiments in this technique. There need be no apology for the propagan­ dist intent of such plays, as truth is the best propaganda. A n d if the truthful representation of news is added, the poetry which is implicit i n our approach to the theatre, particularly our folk culture, then a genuine Indian form may arise i n this way. As for the middle-class drama, I am for breaking all the rules of the European commerical theatre and resorting to the poetic play, our poetic tradition being more highly developed than our prose forms. Apart from this, our genius for song can lend itself very naturally to what is known as opera in Europe. A n d



the gesture-language of our.classical dancing can enable us to say a great deal, which our people want to know, without much verbiage. Similarly, the shadow play is the very essence of oiu- ap­ proach, because it communicates to the illiterate masses, art of a high sensitiveness without the use of abstract ideas. A l l these forms have yet to be exploited b y the Indian genius. QUESTtON:

forms ?

H o w exactly should we go about to create these

A N S W E R : Simply by getting to know the character of Indian folk and classical forms, and by learning the elements of Eiuropean stagecraft and then b y making a synthesis. This needs speciahsed training. O u r theatre must learn to train back-stage boys and property men and assistant stage managers, and re­ quest the actors not to bring their little brothers and sisters on to the wings to see them perform, but to respect the con­ vention of the proscenium where it exists, only breaking it down i n the open air theatre. I mean b y this that attention to detail is "necessary, and inten­ sive study of the art of the theatre, inspired by love of this form, without any bhnd imitation of what has already been done both i n Asia and Europe. QUESTION:

W h a t do you mean by this insinuation ?

A N S W E R : If only our people knew it, the Indian theatrical tradition i n the village, where the actors and audience are one and the illusion is created only b y a small strip of cloth behind which they come on to the stage, is luckily the most advanced hypothesis of the great producers, Stanislavsky, Komissarjevsky and Jean Louis Barrault. The European theatre is seeking to break down the conven­ tional distance between the actors, and the audience, and do away with the proscenium through the revolving stage and other methods. The European intelligentsia feel that the audi­ ences are getting colder even as the plays are getting repetitive —^that life is going out of the theatre. If the object of the theatre is to reflect life, then it must be a vital expression of the longings and aspirations of men who must all become actors even as they watch the actors portray reality. This can only be ensured b y physical contact. In this



sense, the Indian theatre always had this intimacy. I n the well known plays of Bharat Natya Shastra, the spectator must bring to the theatre as much as the actors. (Interviewed by the

Unity Reporter, June




Progressive theatre groups, manned and operated by nonprofessionals^ represent the greatest hope for the stage i n India. They also constitute the greatest danger. The w o r d "progressive", like the word "democratic", has been misused so often that it is necessary to redefine it. F o r the pur­ poses of this article, progressive theatre is that which reflects mankinds problems today—social problems, even moral prob­ lems. It is not divorced from life but a part of it. It seeks to bring about or urge the advancement of man. Finally, there is the negative but perhaps necessary definition of progressive theatre: it is not reactionary. Among non-participants, there is a marked tendency to sus­ pect progressive theatre. It is dubbed Communist, "Anarchist" or merely "Reber i n character. It is accused of being "propa­ ganda" and charged with carrying a "message." Invariably, its character, its propaganda and its message are damned b y the critic because these differ from his own views on the subject, whether it be as simple an issue as a community problem i n an anonymous part of the globe or racial prejudice i n a specific country. Progressive theatre cannot be suspected of anything but its inherent character: its clear cut determination to be progressive. It is not, for instance, interested merely i n who goes to bed with whom, or boy meets girl, boy gets girl. True, these dev­ elopments are a part of life. True, the theatre's task is to entertain. But progressive theatre behoves i n projecting, exam­ ining, recreating or baring the ideologies of our day. It does not look away. A n d it also contrives to keep an expert eye on its ability to entertain its audience. W h i l e the ignorant and the non-participants have exordinary notions and misconceptions about progressive theatre, far greater nonsense is expressed b y the exponents themselves, and



it is this writers experience that progressive theatre groups abound i n personnel whose rantings are largely responsible for the misconceptions outside their fold. Members, active or other­ wise, of such groups, partly digest theories on progressive theatre without the faintest knowledge regarding the translation of this theory and its physical projection on the stage. Their verbosity, as they speak of "interpretation" on the stage, "truth" on the stage and the "problems of the masses", is as meandering as it is devoid of meaning. They w i l l sit around for hours and talk of a "fluid stage", the "purpose" of theatre and "audienceparticipation", when they do not understand the fundamental mechanics of the stage. It is easy to be verbose and it is easy to theorise. T t is easy and perhaps comforting to sound learned. It is easy to confuse the listener with talk of economic theories punctuating stage language. But progressive theatre is a real and vital thing, and its demands are as accm-ate as those of an intricate machine. It has, first, to fulfil a purpose for which it is designed and created. It has then to be fashioned, bit by bit and with i n ­ finite care; Finally, it has to be put together, not any-old-how but with the precision demanded by the original blueprint, and then set to work. O n the stage, all this demands knowledge of such funda­ mentals as elocution, timing, pointing, grouping, movement, costumes, sets, lights, music. It is these fundamentals that are ignored or treated with little respect b y "progressive" theatre groups. Operating under the misconcetpion that the written play has its innate worth which need only be voiced on the stage, they are concerned primarily with the idea: "Curtain." W h a t follows thereafter will, presumably, be first-rate "pro­ gressive" theatre since the play is both first-rate and progressive. In fact, of course, as anyone knows, this is not so. W h a t follows after the curtain rises is an interpretation of a play, and the best of plays can be murdered easily and swiftly or shorn of its impact. T h e written play is a thing only part complete, only part alive. It comes to life on the stage and is a thing wholly complete only when there is an audience. Production is then the most urgent requirement of progressive theatre groups. It is not enough to write or find a great play. It is not enough to unearth great acting skill or create a Sensa­ tional backdrop. A great play deserves and demands a great 5



production, not slipshod trappings of the stage. Its mood and tempo have to be honoured. It has to be clothed and presented i n a worthy manner. Its spirit has to be retained, its meaning made amply clear with the aid of the fundamentals of good theatre. Progressive theatre groups must not undersestimate the value of these fundamentals. Costumes do matter. Speech also matters. So do the other necessities: timing and movement and lights and so forth. If these are not as planned, they w i l l detract from the worth of the play, however progressive its intent. In the last analysis, a good play, written for production, is a work of art. It is for the producers to realise that this involves major responsibilities which cannot be brushed aside or taken on half-heartedly without damaging their product. A n d there is no reason why progressive theatre should not be the best theatre. It has all the necessary equipment. "Critic" {Unity, June 1951)



The old classical Chinese theatre is still immensely popular i n N e w C h i n a : nearly three million people crowd its play-houses, tea-houses and booths every day. There are no less than 350,000 performers of 90 different forms of this art i n various parts of the country. In the classical theatre the stage is usually bare except for one or two essential tables and chairs. Symbols and symbolism of costumes, masks, gestures and sets are widely used. Acting, singing and dancing are usually combined. Today, the classical theatre is undergoing significant changes. The masses of the people, whose support has enabled the classical theatre to develop and flourish, have changed funda­ mentally i n the course of the revolution. They have new in­ terests ; a new outlook. They are more politically conscious than ever before. They are being fired b y the ideas and ideals of the N e w Democracy; They are therefore presenting new, modem demands to the artistes of the classical theatre. This theatre is historically the product of China's feudal cul­ ture and is deeply imbued with Confucian and Taoist philosophy. It still bears deeply the marks of its origin. Its plays have pro-



pagated, for instance, the feudal concept of the hero, of filial piety and loyalty to the lord or family above the nation and a fundamentally fatahstic view of life. W i t h the . advent of the N e w Democracy, all such ideas are being discarded as incompatible with the new concept of the hero: it is he who fights the power of reaction whether i n events relating to political oppression or love. The reform of the Peking Opera reflects this new social demand. Thus i n The Assassination of the Tiger General, the comrades of L i Tse-cheng who led the peasants' revolt that overthrew the M i n g Dynasty, are today regarded as heroic rebels against a corrupt autocracy, and not as the bandits that the oflScial cen­ sorship formerly made them out to be. In Lady Precious Stream, moral censure is now directed against the proflFligate husband who kept his lady waiting for him for 18 years. In the old days the emphasis was on the patient submission of the deserted wife. Audiences of the N e w Democracy reject all superstition. The merely wierd no longer excites their interest. They love the dramatic character of Pao Cheng, the celebrated judge of the l l t h century who defended the people against illegal 'laws" of the Emperor, but they reject the dramatic device whereby he is given supernatural powers and is able to communicate with spirits i n H e l l who help him make out his briefs. D u r i n g the past year the whole organisation and repertoire of the classical theatre has seen rapid progressive changes. At­ tention was, i n the first place, concentrated on the personnel of the stage. W i t h the aid of the People's Government, the A l l C h i n a Federation of Artists and Writers organised special study courses for the theatre workers. They became better acquainted with the political situation, with the place of art in society. They were helped to realise their own position and role i n the new society, their new rights and responsibilities. The theatre in China has always played a didactic role, frankly realising that "art is propaganda". Now the actors un­ derstand this in the modern Marxist sense. As "engineers of the human soul," they recMse that their entertainment should inspire the people with the ideals of progressive mankind, with faith in the revolutionary cause, in the creatire genius of the people, that it should move forward in step ,with the progressive



social forces and at the same time preserve the best of the cul­ tural heritage of the past. Before the hberation, the theatre workers, even such great artistes and teachers as M e i Lan-fang, were never accorded their due rights. T h e M a n c h u society set them l o w i n the social scale along with mercenaries and prostitutes. They were, as a general rule, underpaid. Many, unable to make a living, trans­ ferred to other occupations. E v e n those who gained the loudest popular plaudits had only "second class" social rights. A l l that is now changed. Theatre workers are accorded the same respect as writers, scientists, painters and other brain workers. In order to enable them to play their full part i n the work of cultural construction, they have been brought into the pohtical councils of the new People's State. Immediately after the liberation of Pekuig, the nation's theatrical centre, four of the leading artistes of the classical theatre—^including the renowned M e i Lan-fang, the leading actor of tan (heroic female roles) and C h o w Hsin-fang of Shanghai, famous for his performances of lao sheng (male roles)—^were elected members of the People's Political Consultative C o n ­ ference and participated i n the organisation of the Central People's Government. Ever since the M a y 4th Movement spread to the theatrical world, there have been workers of the classical theatre who have striven to reform their art and bring it into closer conformity with the revolutionary realities of today. Under the warlords and the K M T , however, their efForts were hampered and very nearly nullified b y the reactionary censorship. The movement for reform has made rapid strides during the past year. It has been established i n principle that none of the existing plays should be banned altogether unless they are of a hopelessly reactionary nature, but that wherever revision is necessary it should be carefully undertaken. Those scenes that laud the idea of despotism or encourage a servile mentality should be ruthlessly discarded. Those that express the ideas of patriotism, or that show the courage, indus­ try or wisdom of the people should be preserved and developed. A sharper line is now also drawn between superstition and fairy tale, between wantonness and pure love. In the original. Tale of the White Snake, the heroine, a white snake who has taken human form, is snatched from her husband b y the



machinations of F a H a i , a wicked abbot who changes her back into a snake. She fights bitterly though unsuccessfully against her enemy, i n order to regain her human form and the love of her mate. I n the modem version, the air of mysticism is cleared away. T h e heroine personifies tme love triumphant, despite the tragic ending, over the evil forces of prejudice. N o less than 72 of the old operas have been adapted along these lines and produced druing the past year. T h e new ver­ sions have aroused very great interest among audiences and in some cases, lively controversies have been started which have resulted i n further improvements. This number of new adapta­ tions of the many hundreds of extant operas is being constantly increased i n response to the popular demand. L i k e all traditional arts that have deep roots among the people, the classical theatre is constantly undergoing changes dictated b y social progress and has never for long lapsed into a set mould. This is indeed one of the main reasons for the assurance that it w i l l sm-vive the test to which it is now being subjected. It has shown remarkable powers of assimilation and adaptation. D y n a m i c developments were taking place i n the classical thea­ tre even i n the later days of the emperors when other arts stag­ nated. Thus it is b y no means excluded that despite many argu­ ments against it, some form of scenery or sets w i l l be introduced. It is, another example, only recently that the spacious modem stage has taken the place of the old two piUared square one. It has been through a series of profound discussions and argu­ ments that theatre workers have come to the conclusion that the traditional form of the classical opera can be preserved only if it develops to meet the modem needs of the people. As Chairman M a o Tse-Tung has said: " A l l arts must create new things out of old". Reform has also changed for the better, the relations between the workers of the profession. T h e old apprenticeship system that developed out of feudal traditions was an oppressive one. The young apprentice was accepted by his master-tutor under a contract that stipulated specificaly that the latter could not be held responsible for the death of the apprentice during the period of training ! It can therefore well be imagined what tortures the unlucky apprentice suffered. Furthermore, when his apprenticeship ended the apprentice



was obliged to redeem his freedom over many years b y giving all his income from performances to his master. A n d even then he was not free. Most actors were obliged to deal with theatre managers through the theatrical agents who took five per cent of the actors' wages as commission and were not above other extortions. These and other bad practices and customs i n the theatre that burdened the actors and acted as a brake on any attempts to reform the theatre and .the position of the actors, have a l l been critically reviewed during the past year. T h e relationship be­ tween the master and his apprentice has been entirely reformed and the o l d contracts have been nuUified. T h e system w i l l be completely ended i n the near future as miOre of the modem dramatic schools are opened. The first of these—^the Experimental Academy of the Drama founded i n Peking i n August, 1949, already has 154 students of both sexes from 8 to 19 years of age. They are receiving a com­ plete education not only i n dramatic art, but i n ordinary school subjects as well, free of charge and with full boarding and lodging. The actors themselves are ending the system of agents. Several new companies have been organised on a democratic and co-operative basis. T h e professional and social co-operation among the theatre workers has been strengthened. Immediately after the establishment of the People's Government, for instance, a Drama Reformation Bureau was formed under the direction of the veteran playwright, Tien H a n . This organisation co­ ordinated the views and experiences of theatre workers for the reform of plays and all other branches of the classical theatre. It has enlisted the aid of leaders i n other spheres of art such as the novelists, (among tliem L a o Sheh, the author of Rickshaw Boy), critics and modem dancers, and thus brought fresh and vital minds to the tasks of the theatre. T h e theatrical profession is now organised i n a special branch of the All-China Federation of Literary and Artistic Workers. The artists of the classical theatre are determined to bring their art to a yet higher level of perfection and popularity as a rebom art of the new People's China. N o one doubts that it has a brilliant future. P. C . Y u By courtesy of People's China.

Unity, June 1951




I wbuld like to make i n this short article some suggestions, and put before the people's theatre movement i n our country some of the issues facing it if it is to serve the people and inspire them to w i n a better hfe of themselves. India and the world are at the crossroads. Ominous clouds of war are on the horizon. Callous men, determined to safeguard and expand their monopolies and their profits, are trying to masquerade as democrates i n vain. O n the international arena, reaction, fascism and war adventurism are headed, organised and financed b y American b i g business i n alliance with British financial magnates. I n their panic at the growing strength of the forces of peace, they are mobilising all the gigantic organs of propaganda to confuse common people the world over into beheving that the defence of their money bags is really the defence of democracy. A n d one of their chief weapons i n the preparation of their aggressive wars is their crusade against progressive culture, their persecution and slander directed against democratic-minded scientists, writers and artists. As the Manifesto adopted by ihe (Peace-ed) Congress at Wroclaw, at which the finest intellectuals from all over the world gathered, stated, and which can be our guide even today: ". . . Against the wiU and desires of the people of all coun­ tries, a handful of self-interested men i n America and Europe who had inherited fascist ideas of racial superiority and the denial of progress, who have adopted fascist methods of solving all problems b y force of arms, are once again making an at­ tempt against the spiritual treasures of the peoples of the world. W i t h i n their countries, men who have adopted fascist methods are practising racial discrimination and persecuting' progressive scientists and artists. Scientific discoveries which might be a blessing to mankind, are being used for the secret production of weapons of mass destruction. . . In the hands of these men, human expression and art are being used not to enlighten people and bring them closer together, but to excite base passions, to preach hati-ed for men and to prepare for war." India has a very important part to play in the decision of the question of peace or war. But whereas we want the Indian Government to play a correct role, it is very hard to get away from the sense of scepticism that has grown upon us as a result



of the consistent failures of the Government to keep their pro­ mises to the people, and their bonds of unity with foreign imperiahsm. Every demand of the people for a democratic economy, and for the development of an enduring unity on the basis of co­ operative and homogeneous hnguistic cultures is to be post­ poned, while all steps are being taken b y the State to crush every progressive movement of the people, and to give special concessions and faciUties to those who control the land and capital of the country. T o the rising demand of the peoples of India for homogenous linguistic cultures, the Government replied with all kinds of repressive measures. I n the recent past, organisations were ban­ ned, artists were shot, books, dramas and songs were proscribed, thoiosands were arrested, newspapers confiscated and civil liberties crushed. T h e Government made a special target of the Indian Peoples Theatre Association everywhere, because I.P.T.A. belongs, after all, to the toiling people. A l l popular media of instruction and entertainment i n India, such as newspapers, magazines, films and radio, are being re­ gimented and brought under the control of monopolies which seek to choke the free expression of the feelings of the people. A l l the cultural media of our country are being used to encour­ age the basest chauvinism and narrow nationalism. T h e i m ­ perialists are not only controlling otir material wealth through their local agents, they are flooding our country with books, films and other propaganda designed to stunt and cripple the minds of our people. In this context, writers and artists who wish to serve the people, have to declare unequivocaUy that they are on the side of the people, who are fighting for real independence, and that no bribes nor intimidation can induce them to forsake people i n their struggle for a new social order. They should stand solidly with the progresive scientists, writers and artists of the world in fighting those who are trying to light the flames of a third world war and destroy the culture of the people i n every land. They should stand b y the workers, peasants, students and toiling intellectuals of India to reinforce their struggle with their art. They should fight chauvinism and exclusiveness in the field of



culture. They should stand for the full growth of each nationahty on the basis of mutual exchange and understanding. They should sing of the heroism of the people, that stood out i n clear relief so many times during the great national struggles. They should help to create i n this way a new people s culture, growing out of the rich inherited traditions and art of our country. W e want to raise the cultural level of our people; we want to root out the fatalism and superstitions implanted i n their minds through ignorance and the dark backward social system imposed on them through years of slavery to British b i g business and the oppresors of their o w n land. In participating i n the struggle for peace and for a new social order of economic justice and democratic cultm^e, our artists and writers w i l l enrich the art and literature of India. They must learn from the people not only new forms but also their profound humanism and supreme confidence. A l l writers and artists of India who desire to stand b y the common people for peace and prosperity, for economic justice and real democracy, have a great responsibility. If we are true to the culture of India, it is impossible to be neutral i n this struggle of the people. It is just as impossible to stand on the side of .those i n the State and i n society who are destroying peace, regimenting culture, repressing the people and mono­ polising the material and spiritual wealth of the world. If all genuine writers and artists have to re-examine their whole attitude towards the struggles of the people and their own work, certain conclusions are inescapable: 1. Writers and artists cannot be neutral i n the world-wide straggle between the forces of war and the forces of peace, between those who oppress the pepole of their own and distant lands for their own profits. Today when politics produces mass destitution and wars, how can writers and artists be neutral in politics ? Art cannot be divorced from politics as it cannot be divorced from life. A n d because it cannot be divorced from politics, it cannot be divorced from the struggles of the people for a better life, a new society and real freedom. 2. People's artists must identify themselves with the people. They must regard themselves as fighters for the people.



fighting for all tliat is good and healthy with the weapons of their art. 3. T h e y must fight all reactionary cults and "isms" which debunk social change, breed cynicism and despair in the minds of men, encourage mysticism and religious obscur­ antism, and i n general distract the attention of people from their day-to-day struggles to build a better hfe for themselves. 4. They must leam from the people and must carefully study all the forms i n which their traditional culture has been embodied. O f course, in adapting and utilising these forms they must see to it, that while giving a new social content, the two—^form and content—are appropriate and can be understood b y the people. Om- peoples theatre movement must take the lead i n ful­ filling these tasks, as a democratic organisation mobilising artists from all sections, always on the side of the toiling people i n their struggle for their rights and against imperialism and feu­ dalism i n the main. Our people's theatre movement must strike its roots deeper among the toiling people, specially among the workers and peasants. It must take the lead i n mobilising artists and writers i n a democratic front to fight against the gagging of cultural expression, and against the age-old fetters on the minds of our people. Above all, it must inspire the people in' their struggle for freedom, peace and democracy with its songs, its dances and its dramas. Niranjan Sen (Unity, October




It is a very healthy sign that several voluntary cultural orga­ nisations mainly devoted to production of purposeful plays i n various languages have started i n different parts of Create^ Bombay. Not a week passes when one does not see an announ­ cement of dramas being performed i n English, H i n d i , Gujerati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Konkani and even French. It has become difficult to book a theatre for staging dramas and one has to book months ahead.



Here are some of the activities: Juhu A r t Theatre sponsored b y local residents of Juhu and Santa C r u z who have aheady presented a powerful H i n d i play Murdonka Bhagawath, have been rehearsing Gogol's topical play Government Inspector in H i n d i . The direction is b y Bahaj Sahni. M a n y I P T A members are co-operating with this theatre. H i n d Theatres w i l l present Amrni directed b y Krishan C h a n der this month. It deals with peace and has i n it a cast of seasoned stage and screen artistes. Again, I P T A artistes are co­ operating with them. India A r t Group are rehearsing a Kannada play Kavi Pungava which has already been very successfully done by the Bombay Telugu section of I P T A . Ranga-Bhoomi are presenting Alia Beli, a very powerful his­ torical play written by Gunvant Acharya. This was produced^ very successfully a few years back b y Bombay I P T A and was acclaimed one of the best plays produced, acted and directed on the Bombay stage at that time. Whilst hundreds of cultural enthusiasts drawn from different walks of life are striving their utmost and putting forth their voluntary talent, energy and time to achieve some good pur­ pose, the Government day by day is throttling their enthusiasm by the levy of entertainment tax, municipal tax, etc. It is a common experience of all cultural organisations that every show, however packed does not leave a pice i n the hands of the orga­ nisations—in fact, many times they have to make up the deficit from their own pockets, all for the love of the stage. The Bombay Government has announced that it w i l l set apart some funds out of the Entertainment Tax to encourage "good dramas" but this would definitely mean only those their police censorship would certify and that is going to be propa­ ganda infavour of Congress rule. N o purposeful play tackling social problems would be a "good drama". The Bombay I P T A song squad has been giving songs at vari­ ous trade union and city functions. The H i n d i group has been reorganised and shortly w i l l put up a satire on the housing problem. Prithvi Theatres after a long break are out on tour once again. Mysore Association, Andhra Mahasabha and such other orga­ nizations are encouraging cultural groups of their own and are presenting plays in Kannada and Telugu, Several Malayalee



drama groups have begun functioning and presenting plays. The biggest obstacle besides the taxes is the lack of a suitable hall to put on shows. It is a disgrace to the name of the city that there does not exist a single municipal theatre to which these cultural organizations can look for help and present plays at a nominal cost. Unity, November 1952

A show i n the usual private haUs costs Rs. 400/- for r6nt with­ out any stage or Hght equipment. E v e n then there are so many restrictions that no group can successfully accomplish technical perfection b y erecting suitable settings. Some of these halls which extract Rs. 4(K)/- per show are so bare that it is abso­ lutely impossible even to put up a single set and even i f put up, it has to hang i n the air as no one is permitted to touch the walls or fix a nail. U N I T Y should make it a point to awaken a l l the voluntary cultural organisations to muster strong and unite under one federation to get their hardships removed b y enlisting public sympathy. Either they unite and survive or, divided, they w i l l go out of •existence one b y one. R. Rama Rao (Unity, November 1952)


W e have assembled here today to accord a hearty welcome to Sri Prithviraj Kapoor and his party. This, our metropolis, does not only bear the tradition of development of the Indian stage, but has always respectfully welcomed the foreign stage also. Theatres imbued with foreign ideals have grown up i n this metropolis alongside theatres representing various forms of Indian dramatic art, like Yatra, Kirtm, Kavi, and Panchali. There is no lack of efforts on the part of Indian dancers to absorb foreign dances i n their entire content and form. In the whole of India it is only the metropolis of Calcutta that may claim the uninterrupted tradition of an established stage for a period running over eighty years. Even without any aid from the Government or a municipality or any cultural



organisation, five theati-es, 25 reputed Yatra parties, and numer­ ous Kiffan-play parties have not only been feeding the arthungry people of Calcutta and the people of undivided Bengal, but have successfully served as a great medium for mass education. As a result the vast majority of our people have been able, despite illiteracy and lack of academic education, to keep at a tolerably high pitch their moral and spiritual tone. "People's Theatre" might be a recent coinage, but i n fact People's Theatre is not the gift of any particular age i n any country. A l l arts are finally traceable to the inspired mind of the common man, i n every country and i n every age. The first man who carved out pictures on the caves of the mountain and m u d walls of the hut, the first man who sang, the first man who burst out into a rhythmic dance out of sheer joy to discover Nature and her treasure of beauties, the first man who invented the balm and the medicine—^none of these re­ ceived education at schools and colleges, none of them was a finished scholar none of them bore the tradition of culture. A l l of them were just common men. A n d out of the genuine luge for self expression i n these common men were b o m all the forms of art—dance, music, drama, literature, painting, and even the incomparable scientific art of imparting life to the life­ less. Common men, out of their own necessity, their own happi­ ness, used their creative genius to build the Great Road of SelfFulfilment. H a d the march along tiiat Great Road been an unintermpted one, common men all over the earth would b y now have been i n possession of E t e m a l Bliss. History, however, had a different story to tell us. A handful of people tore themselves away from the vast masses of the people and turned uncommon. I n order to establish their uncommonness they robbed A r t of the native spontaneity of the common man and made A r t artificial. Not that these uncom­ mon men d i d not possess a force; they d i d possess an extra­ ordinary talent. It was with the help of this talent that they not only imparted scholasticism and sophistication to A r t and made it uncommon, but also brought under their sway the State, society and even religion. Thus while establishing their superiority over the common man, they dazzled the world, spreading confusion, panic and a



stupor amongst the common masses. Seizing upon their stupor, ihe uncommon few ostracised the common multitudes from the field of Art, and what was more, they deceived, robbed exploited and tortured the masses, and finally threw them into the quag­ mire of inertia. Stupefied, the masses remained bogged i n that quagmire for over 400 years, and languished while over their skeletons was built the edifice of an uncommon civilisation of the wealthy few. This uncommon civilisation spread its sway over every region and clime. T h e uncommon few d i d a great many things; but amongst the things they d i d was that they disturbed the foun­ tain of Life. Thanks to them. Religion, State, Empire and trade on the seven seas all slowly languished away because they choked the fountain of Life. State after State crumbled, tem­ ples, mosques and churches dwindled under their influence. T h e n the rich man and the merchant started realising that it was not the machine that produced, but the man behind the machine. In no more that 400 years many of the uncommon few re­ alised that a State languishing away could be the only fate of a creation that was divorced from the masses, of a civilisation that had no roots among the masses, and of a culture that owed not its origin to the masses. A n d that is precisely w h y today C o m m o n M a n is on the lips of even the torch-bearers of that uncommon civilisation. Today, everyone—the artist, the litterateur, the philosopher, the scien­ tist, the progressive politician-everyone has learnt that it is only the Common M a n who can keep the lamp biuning. Art, litera­ ture, philosophy, science, and everything besides, may only re­ main alive at the touch of the hand of the Common M a n . This truth was learnt b y all at a heavy cost. That i n the rise of the Common M a n alone lies the emancipa­ tion of humanity has been at length reahsed by all, b y us who have assembled here today, Indian, non-Indians, the white race, the yellow race and the black race, the men of the West and the men of the East. Sri Prithviraj has i n his plays and through his easy and na­ tural acting, reflected this ideal of the rise of the Common M a n . A n d that is why every lover of the stage and every lover of humanity—^be he a Westerner or an Easterner looks upon him as a great friend of his.



W e , the Bengah lovers of the stage, are i n particular happy that Sri Prithviraj had made us feel through his incomparable efforts on the stage that Western India and Eastern India have reached the same level in the field of d r a m a ; that Bengal, Bom­ bay and the Punjab do not essentially differ i n this respect. T h e voice of the M a n for his emanciaption, ringing through the dramatic efforts of the West and East of India, has at last placed India i n the camp of all peace-loving peoples of the world. L e t the victory of Prithviraj herald the victory of the Com­ mon M a n . Sachin Sengupta Translated from Bengali by Sailesh Sen Gupta A speech delivered at a reception to Cinema, Calcutta, on January 9, 1952.


Prithviraj Kaxxwr at

the Purabi


West Bengal: The West Bengal Branch of the Indian Peo­ ple's Theatre Association staged a record number of songs, dramas and ballet performances during the months of Novem­ ber and December. The song groups gave their performances before thousands of people i n the Bengal districts almost every day during these two months, and the Calcutta D r a m a Squad staged the full-length dramas Nagpash, Bichar, Bisharjan, OflScer, and the ballets Ahalya and Sonar Bangla at 36 shows given i n the districts of Midnapore, Murshidabad, Burdwan and 24Parganas as well as i n various localities in Calcutta, covering an audience of nearly one hundred thousand people. A recent success of the Drama Squad is the new short drama Bhoter Bhet by R i m e n d u Pal, an agitational sketch exposing the hypocrisy of the Congress Junta, which was greatly ap­ preciated at a recent rally of over one hundred thousand peo­ ple i n Calcutta. In addition, a whole-time Calcutta Squad tomed Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri for twelve days staging a number of dramas and folk song recitals and covering an audience of about 28,000 people. Delhi, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh: Reports from these places show that the I . R T . A . productions are receiving a gi-eat res-



ponse from large audiences. I n Assam the greatest activity has been reported from the districts of Cachar and Dibrugarh. F r o m the South, comes news that I.P.T.A. is participating with all the strength at its disposal i n the upsurge of the people's movement unleashed b y tlie holding of general elections. A t the end of this month all Provincial Committees of I.P.T.A. are to review their work, assimilate the experiences of work during the election period, and root out any drawbacks that may still exist i n the organisation. It has also been proposed that b y the middle of February, an extended All-India Committee meeting, should be held i n Bom­ bay to chalk out the future programme and discuss problems of art and organisation so that I.P.T.A. can take a bold step forward i n the building of people's culture i n India.

TAMASHA a popular folk form

In this short article, I shall attempt to give an outline of the background of Tamasha an extremely popular folk-form of Maharashtra. A whole book can be written on this subject, so rich is its history. As there is no written account of this form and as most of the Tamaslms were never printed, it is very difficult to trace its actual birth. F r o m the signs existing even today and from the different masters of this form, it can be said that it existed hun­ dreds of years ago specially (it was a dominant folk form) am­ ong the common people, when V e d i c religion was the guiding principle of State and society. Some detailed account of the condition and history of this form is available from the time of the great folk artist, R a m Joshi, about 150 years back. Character Of This^ Form Tamasha is staged b y eight persons (maximum). A l l of them take part i n acting and chorus singing and four of whom play common instruments, viz., dholak and dhapli (skin instruments), tuntune (string instrument having one string) and jhanjhari (brass instrument). The story is narrated i n a humorous and satirical style. There



is a hero and heroine (often played by a male aotor) and some typical comic characters. The story is always taken from wellknown mythological historical incidents or from happenings i n the locality of the performance. There is no need of stage, settings, curtains, etc. for Tamasha. Tordies were used for lighting before petromax appeared i n the Indian market and the rural areas. T h e audience sit around the performers. Tamasha was never written and no prompting was necessary. The show opens with a hymn to the god Ganesh and then the story is narrated briefly. T h e whole story is developed through acting as w e l l as singing. Tamasha is a very long affair. It used to take 12 to 15 hotirs at least and people would sit all night to listen to and see it. Tamasha was originally connected with clebrations of religious festivals. D m i n g fairs and after the immersion of gods and god­ desses, people would hold Tamasha for hours on end. People's


Tamasha was never nourished and patronised by the ruling circles and people of higher caste. Artists and composers of Tamasha were from the Shudra class and untoushables, who mastered this (lowest) form of composing and staging. Most of them were illiterate. T h e upper class classified Tamasha under untouchability as this was the property of untouchables. N o highcaste member could take up this form as he would have been declared an out-caste. Brahmins specially were dogmatic on this issue. I n spite of the hatred and suppression b y the ruling class, propertied men and persons of the higher caste, Tamasha continued to exist as it was most popular with the masses. It was accessible to them. T h e y encouraged the com­ posers and artists, supported their just livelihood and bought or prepared instruments and costumes for Tamasha groups. In the early period, Tamasha used to deal only with rehgious and mytliological themes. A t the birth of Powada, a militant and popular song on Shivaji's resistance war against Emperor Aurangzeb (I wish to deal with this some other time), Tamasha was bound to take themes to some extent which would inspire the people to action. But due to complete segregation of this form from society and the rest of the art-world, and due to the 6



corrupt reign of the Peshwas especiahy i n the latter period, this theme took recourse to vulgarised humour and the corrupt side of life. This situation was further accentuated b y the British rule. In this period, Tamasha decayed to a greater extent. W i t h the worsening economic condition of the people b y the exploitation of the foreign rulers and suppression by feudalism, the Tamasha players and composers suffered economic troubles also, and their art was on the decline. Yet Tamasha could not be crushed. T h e people loved it, took it as their own and it could not die. A t least a dholak i n each village was kept as a symbol of Tamasha. It indicated their attachment towards it. People wanted to see it flourish and inspire them, but it d i d not seem possible. Some Individual


R a m Joshi—a Brahmin—^revolted against the ban on this art form and took up Tamasha about 150 years ago. His contribu­ tions are immense and powerful though he was an out-caste due to his profession. But he could not fight the degeneration of this form as the mass consciousness was at a low level. H e could not understand the change it required, with this form so segregated from, and hated by, the educated classes. Further, it was difficult to maintain himself economicaUy, as the peasan­ try—^the only source of income—^were getting poorer every day. A t a later period, he became a saint. Phatke Baba, another Brahmin, doggedly stuck to this form i n spite of social and economic repression. A t this time, a girl from a high family, named Pandi, also revolted against the social barrier and joined the Tamasha group and she became famous among the common people. She was discarded by her society but that d i d not hamper her work in Tamasha. T w o brahmins wrote more than 1000 songs and Tamashas, but these were never published and it is very difficult to trace these today. These leonine revolts and attempts by a few great artists could not stop the decay of the form as the rule of imperalism and feudalism was crushing our people and its culture. In this background, it is obvious that this form should have been des­ troyed completely, but a form grown out of the people, support­ ed and loved by them, could not be crushed.


I n the period of the Gramophone Recording Company being estabhshed here i n India, the shahis (writers of Pouxtdas) who maintained a heahhy tradition due to the diiBculty i n pervert­ ing completely the inherent militant character of this form (bom out of necessity of inspiring people against the M o g h u l Emperor during Shivaji's time) and also to the fact that these writers were mostly from a shghtly educated class i n touch with modem thought, took it up and recorded a small piece of Tamasha, a simple humorous story of a villager's reaction to a b i g city hke Bombay. This record became very popular and it gave an im­ petus to change the theme of Tamasha. Historical

Turn in the The Life Of


In the year 1943 when the All-India People's Theatre Asso­ ciation was formed i n Bombay, during tlie first Conference, a progressive writer, D . N . Gowankar, a brahmin, wrote a Tamasha on blackmarketing, the first one dealing with day-to-day prob­ lems of people. It was staged there and was most inspiring— specially creating a tremendous effect on the Maharashtrian working-class audience (numbering thousands) i n Kamgar Maidan. Anna Bhau Sathe, an untouchable writer from the workingclass, who used to write only ballads at that time and took part in Tamasha at an early age became inspired by this performance and took to writing Tamasha. Another powerful songster, composer and aotor, Omar Sheikh, a landless Muslim peasant and then a Trade Union worker, also joined the group. A whole-time troupe of about eight people having these three persons as the nucleus, prepared Tamashas, Powadas, some powerful songs i n folk tunes, and some folk dances, like Valladi. Anna Bhau started writing Tamashas, each surpassing the pre­ vious one i n content and form, dealing with the life of the people and their burning problems. Gowankar also wrote powadas and Omar Sheikh a series of songs. T h e first tour of this troupe i n different parts of Maharashtra before all sections created a tremendous upsurge among the people and the Tamasha world. Wherever they went, they were always wel­ comed b y a procession of vihagers. News spread like fire. O n one occasion, 1400 bullock-carts carrying peasants from distant villages came to greet them. In their tour, they performed 250



shows to an audience of more than 20 lakhs. This was an un­ precedented occasion i n the whole of Maharashtra. Naturally the enemies of the people became panicky and started slandering the girl and other members of the troupe. They threatened people and attacked them viciously through the local papers. Lastly—^the troupe was arrested too. I n these eight years, 14 Tamashas have been written by A n n a Bhau Sathe, one L o k - M a n t r i (People's Minister) being banned. Seven editions, each numbering 3,000 copies, were printed. Most of the books have been sold out. Fourteen Powadas have been written and Omar Sheikh has written about 250 songs during this period. This above mentioned troupe performed an average of K> shows a year, totalling a 25 lakh audience per year. This covers the whole of Maharashtra, intensively i n rural areas, i n towns and i n Bombay city, including a one lakh middle class audience i n Shivaji Park. This has led to the formation of nearly 300 squads drawing professional Tamasha-wallas too, as the o l d Tamasha is more or less obsolete now. These squads prepare programmes on the pattern of the main troupe, and stage Tamasha and Powada songs and dances composed b y Anna Bhau, Gowankar, and Omar Sheikh. The squads are under the influence of different political parties. But today, if organisations and composers of I.P.T.A. take .the initiative to mobilise them on one platform and expand and consolidate them, it w i l l be a tremendous movement i n Maharashtra. This is the demand made every day, b y the people and all these squads, on I.P.T.A. I.P.T.A. can do it and must do it. This is the foremost task. Niranjan Sen



Soviet cameramen-delegates to the International F i l m Festi­ val, filmed the I.P.T.A. ballet Ahalya (in colour) at Radha F i l m Studios i n Calcutta and made recordings of I.P.T.A. songs. In Andhra also, the delegates recorded songs and filmed a few dances b y the local I.P.T.A. branch. Unittf, February-March 1952





The following is a summary of suggestions made by the A l l India I P T A Committee meeting i n Bombay i n February 1952. On policy and


F r o m its very birth during the movement for national inde­ pendence i n 1942, the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association has tried to express the aspirations of the people through its songs and dramas, and build a common platform for aU those artists who wanted to serve the people. Although during the first six years of its existence, from 1942 to 1949, it d i d to some extent succeed i n building up strong units i n certain areas which staged plays bearing on the peo­ ple's stiuggles for their rights and exposing the communal forces and imperiahst atrocities, it failed to achieve the character of a vigorous national movement deeprooted among the people. This was due partly to its inability to attract enough talent and create the necessary enthusiasm for the theatre among the peo­ ple, and partly to the confusion existing i n the minds of those directing the movement and their inability to formulate a clearcut policy regarding I P T A productions. Instead of putting the organisation on the right path, the Allahabad Conference held i n early 1949 adopted an extreme sectarian policy which led to fmrther disaster. Just when, due to Government repression, I P T A needed to be broad-based enough to enlist the co-operation of all genuine artists and workers, it isolated itself from the people and suffer­ ed complete demoralisation. W h i l e part of the setback could be ascribed to the intensity of repression, the mistaken - policy formulated at Allahabad was responsible to a great extent for what happened. Fortunately, due to the mobilisation of peoples' forces i n de­ fence of their rights i n recent months as evidenced i n the gen­ eral elections and the increasing demand for progressive plays, a favourable situation has again been created for the growth of the people's theatre movement. In Bengal and Andhra, the movement has already sprung to new life. T h e aim of all Peo­ ple's Theatre artists and those who believe i n culture for the people, should be to take advantage of the new situation, con-



solidate the gains already made, and mobilise all creative artists, playwrights, song composers, actors, producers, and others i n the theatre movement, to enable tliem to serve the people through their art. T h e objective of a healthy, vigorous and thriving national people's theatre movement reflecting the present struggles of the people and reaching ever larger nmnbers i n the cities and rural areas can be achieved i f all those who have been connected with I P T A i n the past, and ah those we are drawn to the theatre, work together to re-built inactive units, build new ones and ex­ pand the existing ones, bearing i n m i n d the following: (a) T h e movement should be as broad-based as possible. Those joining it should agree to the aims of fui-thering the cause of peace and the people's struggles for democratic rights and for a better future, through their work. (b) Progressive plays should not be taken to mean only those with a topical theme. The staging of all plays which •truthfully present the life of the people should be encouraged. (c) A l l units should make forms, and instead of new social conditions, find out which can be

an intensive study of regional folk adapting them indiscriminately to should try by proper analysis to so adapted.

(d) Every unit should organise regular study circles at which new plays, and other foreign and our own classical dra­ matists, are read and discussed, and at which all oilier problems connected with people's art, are dealt with. (e) More than ever before, every unit should try to maintain as high a standard of production as possible. Difficult theatrical productions staged after insufficient rehearsing should be avoided. (f) Every unit should try to keep i n close touch with local writers to ensure a steady supply of songs and plays, and to enable writers to keep in close touch with the stage. Joint meetings to discuss common problems should be arranged frequently. (g) There should be complete democratic functioning, and every decision regarding the selection of plays and pro­ duction details should be taken after full discussion with as many members as possible.





A l l units must endeavour to draw i n artists, talent and thea­ tre groups from different sections, viz. workers, peasants and dty-folk, to build, expand and consolidate the units. Since numerous progressive theatre groups are springing up, I P T A must establish contact with them and strengthen them. Wherever the situation arises, these groups should be affiliated, ensuring their full right of existence and participation i n the building of a people's theatre movement. Simultaneously aU units must endeavour to forge a common platform with those organisations and individuals who are not prepared to directly associate themselves with I P T A . I P T A units must take the initiative i n this direction on various issues on a mutually agreed programme. Broad Tasks Before the Conferences -. The Conference must include: (a) delegates' session; (b) cultural programme (c) special session for folk artists and composers, fraternal dele­ gates and cultural troupes of other organisations must be invited to participate; (d) the conference must take concrete decisions regarding broad aims and objects according to local conditions, organisational principles, programme for future productions, and the financial aspect of the movement; (e) provincial conferences must adopt a report analysing the past concretely, reviewing the dramas and songs staged recently, and formulating a future plan of w o r k ; this report is to be discussed before hand i n a l l units and is to be placed before the All-India Conference; (f) provincial conferences must decide on delegations to be sent to the AU-India Conference, arrange the cultmal programme to be presented at that Conference, and work out a plan for rais­ ing funds necesary to send a delegation and cultural troupe. T H E ALL-INDIA


T h e AU-India Office must try to maintain regular correspon­ dence, exchange of reports, supply all the drafts worked out by the AU-India Committee or secretariat i n time for discussion, look after and help in the running of Unity—the journal of the movement—stabilise aiid maintain regular contact with the progressive cultural movement of foreign countries, and explore ways and means of building up an AU-India F u n d . The General Secretary will look after the AU-India Office, help making pre-



parations for the AU-India Conference and tour different pro­ vinces where necessary to get first-hand information. RESOLUTION ON T H E JOURNAL


The AU-India Committee of I P T A feels the urgent necessity of an official magazine for the djmamic growth of the progres­ sive theatre movement i n India, and accepts the suggestion of M r . D a v i d Cohen, an I P T A member. Editor of Unity, to make U n i t y the official organ of the people's theatre movement i n India. The Committee decided to finance Rs. 1,000/- immediately, and requested Messrs. D a v i d Cohen, Shyam L a i and Niranjan Sen to work out a plan for ninning the paper. ON



The AU-India Committee have decided India Conference i n September, 1952, Madras City. T h e date and place w i l l consultation with the Andhra Branch. was held i n Bombay i n 1953-ed).

to hold the next A U either i n Bezwada or be finally decided i n (AU-India Conference


A resolution was also passed to start a campaign, i n co-opera­ tion with all other progressive organisations of all provinces, ahd individuals, for the release of I P T A prisoners and a fair trial for all i n the open court-room.


West Bengal: Bahurupi Bahurupi's ideal is, i n short, to produce plays which are socially responsible, and which w i l l make the audience feel noble. W i t h this ideal i n view, our organisation has produced five plays and one short sketch so far. T h e plays are: Pathik, Ulukhagra, Chenra-taar, CJiaar-Adhyaya, and an adaptation from Ibsen's A n Enemy of the People. A n d on the strength of these productions, Bahurupi has been able to create a position for itself i n the new drama movement of Bengal.



Pathik (Traveller) is the story of a playwright who, feehng emptiness i n his hfe and work, gets out of Calcutta and later finds himself i n a small tea-cum-grocery shop near the Bengal and Bihar border. This shop is frequented b y all sorts of local people, from a coalmine owner to the miners. A conflict shar­ pens between the two and the playwright finds that he can cut through his barreness and move to a higher level as an artist, and also as a human being, if he can align himself completely with the miners—^the majority of our country. T h e whole play is one set—^the tea-cum-grocery shop. For this, we completely covered the three sides of the stage with sackcloth i n which were cut doors and windows. Some tea chests, one dirty tea table, three iron chairs, and a few typical groceries were all the properties w e used. The name Ulukhagra is taken from a Bengali proverb, which means: "Because the kings fight, the reeds i n the marsh are trampled to death". W e tried to portary this theme i n the background of a middle class house. I n this play, we introduced "floating" doors and windows against a deep black curtain to express stateliness against a darkened background. T h e play Chenra-taar (Broken String) is written b y one of our leading playwrights and actors, Tulsi Lahiri, who is also the author of our first play, Pathik. Chenra-taar is the story of a M u s l i m peasant before, during and after the Great Bengal Famine i n 1943. Financially, this is the most succesful of all our plays. F o r this play we used a long cut-out across the stage of a height of about three feet, showing the panorama of a viUage. This cut-out is placed i n front of the black curtain all through the play, except i n two scenes—once, when we leave the village and go to a town, and again, when we show the house of the village jotedar. Properties on the stage were the minimum possible. Our fourth production, Chaar-Adhyaya, is based on Rabindra­ nath Tagore's novel of the same name. There is an English translation called Four Chapters. T h e story is about a young man and girl caught i n the whirlpool of terroristic activities during 1930-31. In this production too, the mounting was simple, but much attention was p a i d to the lighting effects. It is a little difficult to



explain our idea of lighting i n this short report—we are neither naturalistic nor impressionstic, but try to combine both to the best advantage of our theme. In the production under dis­ cussion, we felt that the theme needed a more impressioriistic treatment. Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, of which no open profes­ sional show has so far been organised, is our last full-length play. In this production, we tried an experiment—^we asked all the actors not to follow the text rigidly but to extemporise ac­ cording to the tempo on the stage, keeping, of course, the theme well i n mind. The result was interesting, and it needs further research. This extemporising was tried very successfully i n our short sketch. W e had no sets or properties, or. even a written script. W e i n ­ vited the audience to imagine that we were sitting i n a cosy drawing-room, or walking on a road, b y pantomime and certain symbols. The audience did believe, first laughingly, then deeply as the story takes a turn. W e have presented our plays on the best stage available i n Calcutta, and also i n villages with the peasants as our audience. W e are proud of our experience and are searching for a theatrical expression which w i l l impress the beautiful core of the Bengali mind. W e want to make our theatre national and great. A Report by

Sambhu Mitra, Director and Producer

The Calcutta I P T A Central squad is dramatising Julius Fuchik's immortal book. Notes from the Gallows. The dramati­ sation is being done b y Umanath Bhattacharji, who is also work­ ing on another social drama called Agni {Fire). A poster drama on the present food problem called Anna {Rice) has also been performed at various places. D u r i n g the current year, a drama on refugee problems by Ritwik Ghatak, called Ddil {Documents) has been staged by the South D r a m a Squad, which had also staged Ahad by Govinda Chakravarty, the story of which is based on the peasant prob­ lems and the caste riots after partition of the province. Another drama. Natak Nah {Not a Drama) by Biru Mukherjee has also been prepared, and the story is based on the problems of the middle class society of the city. The North Drama Squad has staged Nagphash by Noni



Mazumdar based on the hfe of the middle class and the un­ employment faced by them. Three other plays are being re­ hearsed, two of which are written b y N i r m a l Ghosh and one b y Jyoti Roy. One of the plays written by N i r m a l Ghosh is an adaptation of Gorky's Enemies, named Arati, and the other is Muktijuddho (Liberation War), depicting the Malayan people's struggles and the confusion inside the imperialist camp. Jyoti Roy's drama, Aguner Phul (Flower of Fire), is the story of the terrorist period of the thirties, the story of the patriotic spirit of those terrorists who laid down their lives for their country. . A Bahet Group is being formed i n North Calcutta, and squads are rehearsing two ballets trader the guidance of Samar Chatterjee, written by Paresh Dhar. Songs have been composed on the famine and other present day social conditions of the people by the North Calcutta and Central Squad members. The Central Bahet Squad prepared a bahet caUed The Atom and Man for the All-India Cultural Conference and Festival, and at present are rehearsing a ballet on famine caUed Shapath (Oath). Sambhu Bhattacharjee and Sakti N a g are the composers, and Kesto Bose and Salil R o y are directing the music. Ahalya is still a very popular ballet and performances are being staged regularly, the story being about the pregnant peasant woman, Ahalya, being killed by police i n the back­ ground of the peasants' struggle. Other plays stiU being per­ formed are Runner and Sword. , In Budge Budge, Haran Chandra Dalui, Secretary of the local I P T A Branch, has written a fuU-length drama which ins­ pired the jute and petroleum workers. This drama is based on the actual struggle of the workers of the Standard-Vacuum O i l Co. D u r i n g the past five months, Calcutta I P T A has staged about 84 shows i n the city and suburbs to an audience of about two lakhs. The English and Hindi-speaking groups are also getting re-organised. Unity, July






K . H . Gulam A h m a d Mahjoor—the people's poet of Kashmir, is dead, -writes our correspondent i n Kashmir. In spite of his age, Mahjoor was an active participant i n the peace movement i n Kashmir. One of the greatest poets of the Kashmiri language, Mahjoor was a member of the All-India Peace Council, Vice-President of the Kashmir Peace Committee, Vice-President of the Cultural Committee i n Defence of Peace, and Vice-President of the National Cultural Congress, Kashmir. H e was also on the editorial board of Kong-Posh, the first and only monthly journal i n Kashmiri published b y the Progressive Writers' Association. Mahjoor's poetry has always inspired peo­ ple to fight for peace and real democracy and exposed i m ­ perialist machinations and their plans for a third world war. The people of Kashmir mourned his death. Khanqua Maulla was crowded -with thousands of men and women, and a funeral procession started from this place to Mazari Shorn, where the burial took place. Poets N a d i m and M i r z a Arif, and Bahudin, a prominent mazdoor leader, as w e l l as all other workers of the National Cultural Congress, were present there. The C i v i l and Military autfiorities presented their last salute, and the burial ended -with a short speech b y Bakshi Gulam Mohammad, Hon'ble Deputy Prime Minister. Later, a singing programme of Mahjoor's poetry was arranged b y Radio Kashmir at the poet's grave.


I n Kerala, a newly formed I P T A branch, the Kuttanad K a l a Samity, has been welcomed b y workers and peasants... . In Bengal, there are now I P T A i n 10 out of the 12 districts i n the province, with greatest activity i n Howrah, Hoogly and 24 Parganas. The Provincial Preparatory Committee recently decided to postpone the proposed provincial convention until February. , . the activities of the Calcutta groups, with Calcutta as the nerve centre of the provincial movement, during months of September and October yield the following amazing statistics: A total audience of over 75,000 saw 30 shows, which included dramas Udayastha by A n i l Ghose, Nagpash b y M o n i Mazumdar,



Bichar b y Pumendu Pal, Dheu b y B i r u Mukherjee, and Tagore's Bisharjan. More than 30 songs were composed by SalU C h o w ­ dhury, Hemango Biswas, Paresh Dhar, Nibaran Pandit, Nirmal Ghose and others. A new ballet Sonar Bangla has been prepared. Under the leadership o£ the Calcutta Branch, about 25 differ­ ent progressive theatre organisations met on November 2 to co­ ordinate their activities and a committee of seven was elected with an office to , function from the Calcutta I P T A office at 46 DharamtoUa Street. Unity Theatre group has become the Enghsh group of I P T A . Unity, November





The Provincial Convention w i l l be held at Naihati (suburb of Calcutta) from 30 August to 1 September, 1952. The Conven­ tion w i U adopt a draft manifesto and a detailed resolution on organisation. A jatra w i l l be held on the second night from 24 Parganas District, and about an eight-hour cultural programme by different districts, as well as an open session on the third day. Discussions on policy and organisation are proceeding, and preparations for the District Convention are being made. Singbhum District I P T A Conference w i l l be held i n the last week of August for one day, and Singbhum Cultural Conference, on the initiative of I P T A workers, w i l l be held i n the last week of this month. Artistes and art groups of different shades of opinion from both rural and urban areas are being mobihsed for this Conference. The Provincial Convention is expected to be held by the first week of October at the latest. General


(a) Enquiries regarding the availability of IPTA's film. Dhartike-Lal, have been received from Canada, America and Eas^ Germany, for public performances. (b) Information has been received that the world-famous singer, Paul Robeson, wants to record two popular H i n d i songs of I P T A . H e wants these i n roman script, as well as a gramo-



phone disc for picking up the words and tune. Necessary ar­ rangements are being made. (c) T h e seven-scene Hungarian play, My Son, has just been received. (d) Three prominent I P T A artistes of the West Bengal branch, Debabrata Biswas, Salil Choudhury, and Nibedita Das, have informed us that they have applied for passports i n order to attend the Asian Peace Conference i n Peking as delegates. Other Provinces are requested to intimate the names of .those who have applied for passports also i n this connection. (Umty, August 1952)


The All-India Conference which was proposed to be held i n September, 1952, is postponed for at least another month due to reasons explained i n the circular recentiy issued. The All-India Committee w i l l meet i n East Punjab just after the AU-India Peace Conference (15 September, as it stands now). A l l office-bearers and as many representatives as possible from the Provinces should attend this meeting, as then only w i l l it be possible to finalise plans regarding the AU-India Conference. Please treat this matter as most urgent, and advise the A l l India Office of the names of persons who w i l l attend this meetting b y 7 September, 1952. Main 1. 2. 3. 4.


Finalising the date and place of the Conference. Scale and scope of the Conference. Broad plan and programme of the Conference. Miscellaneous. NmANjAN S E N General Secretary


Madhya Bharat The Ujjain Committee is stabilising its activities and is pre­ paring to stage two plays to support the Anti-Communalist



Front recently formed at a Convention of 23 leading parties in tiie city. Assam Members of the Gauhati unit are trying to re-organise the branch, and propose to hold an AU-Assam Cultural Workers Convention i n the middle of September. Rajasthan A n organisation has recently been formed i n Rajasthan named Rajasthan Kala Kendra, with Sri Mohansingh Nirwanas as con­ venor. This organisation w i l l develop along the lines of I P T A regarding policy and cultural programmes. West Bengal A Provincial Convention was held on August 30 and 31 and September 1 at Naihati, a surburb of Calcutta. Singbhum The District Cultural Conference w i h be held from 4 to 7 September at Jamshedpur, which will be attended by artistes and writers of all shades of opinion. Representatives from the urban and rural areas, and particularly the Santhals and A d i basis, w i l l also participate, while I P T A troupes and individual artistes from Calcutta w i l l stage performances at the C o n ­ ference. A detailed report of the event w i l l appear i n the next issue. A number of Hungarian folk and classical music records have been received at the All-India Office in a beautiful album. Several photo stills on the drama Jidius Fucik, produced in Czechoslovakia, have been received and handed over to the Calcutta Branch to help them i n their production of the same drama. Postponement of All-India Committee


Since several Committee members w i l l be unable to go to East Punjab for the AU-India Peace Conference, I have had to postpone the AU-India I P T A Committee meeting. The Andhra Branch, which is responsible for making the final



arrangements for the conference, have now advised me that they will send i n details regarding the place and date of the conference before the end of September, and as soon as these details are received, circulars w i l l be sent to a l l I P T A branches. Niranjan Sen General Secretary (Unity, September 1952)





O n July 26 and 27, cultiural shows on Peace, organised b y the Progressive Cultural Squad were held i n Jorhat. Programmes on Peace were new to the people and thus drew large crowds. Arrangements are being made for publishing a cultural magazine from Jorhat as early as possible. T h e Squad is planning to tour some of the local towns and stage shows on Peace. A booklet has been published which contains a series of songs, which tell about the devastation caused b y the earth­ quake of 1950 and the miserable plight of the suffering people who were extended no relief, but were victims of blackmarketeers. EAST PAKISTAN C U L T U R A L


Three hundred delegates from every district i n East Bengal attended a three-day festival of folk songs and dramas held at the Comilla T o w n H a l l from August 22 to 25, writers our Dacca correspondent. Resolutions calling for an end to war propaganda and pre­ parations for war and for the broadening of the peace move­ ment i n the Province were passed, as well as a resolution con­ demning the attempt to suppress the Bengali language. Dele­ gates demanded the expansion of the educational system. To further the cause of peace a permanent organisation called the East Pakistan Cultural Council was formed w i l l i A b d u l Karim Sahitya Visharad as President, and Prof. A b u l Khayer and Mustafa N u r u l Islam as Joint Secretaries. Highlights of the festival were the Tagore and Nazrul days in which a number of prominent artistes participated. Bijon Bhattacharjee's drama Jaban Bandi, the poems of Jasimuddin and his party; of Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and the Chowdhury


Larai of Noakhdi b y the famous Kaaial Romesh S i l formed an important part of the programme. A n art exhibition was also arranged b y the Dacca A r t Group.


To-day is not the day of Independence. To-day is a day o£ iftourning. Look at om- country. It has been cut i n half. The Bengalis and the Punjabis, each di-vided into two different States, are undergoing unspeakable miseries to day i n "free India" because of partition. Repeating what I said i n 1947, I say once more to-day that we are, legaUy speaking, subjects of the British Empire and not citizens of a free India. However numerous might be the speeches of President Prasad and Nehru, and however huge might be the wastage of public funds on this day, this fact has become clear to the people. The real nature of om* "Independence" may be illustrated b y a recently passed 'law". A n American who commits a d i m e iix India is not to be tried according to Indian law. W h a t sort of a law is this may I ask ? A n d speaking about law, I think of the stage. D u r i n g the British regime, the merit of a drama used to be judged b y pohce officers. This same l a w has continued to be i n force for the last five years i n "free" India. Today famine conditions exist all over the country. E v e n the areas supplied b y Government -wilih rationed rice, suffer i n one way or another. Stone chips mixed -with this rice are supposed to be consumed b y human beings -without adversely affecting their health. A n d look at the state of education i n "free" India. I myself was once a teacher and teachers present here to-day wiU con­ firm how shallow are the plans made b y the Government -with all sorts of committees being set up and all sorts of codes drafted. These are not real preparations for educating the peo­ ple, but for favoming relatives of certain sections i n the name of education. A n d part of die "education of the people" plan is the enforcing of H i n d i as 6ie State language at the expense of the Bengali and other national languages. A charge that is frequently levelled at the stage i n India is 7


that it is not progressing. T h e stage of our country is 80 years old. T h e British stage is 200 years old and yet it is also i n a crisis. It stands to reason therefore, that individual efforts are insufficient and what is needed is the co-operation of the nation as a whole. But can such conditions be expected under the conditions we are existing i n to-day ? W h e n one thinks of aU these things, one feels how black concOnditions are. A lifeless, self-seeking Government sits on our shoulders openly declearing its expectation of continuing for another 25 years. But the people expect these rulers to only hang on tiU the next elections. T h e improverished peasantry who constitute 80% of our population are groaning under the load of exploitation. B u t the Government has unfortunately been able to keep them under illusions. Even so while bragging about adult franchise and cashing i n on the iUiteracy and ignorance of these people, the Congress could not, completely trust them and therefore had to buy votes. T o crown all this, the well-known dailies of Bengal are here to blow the trumpets of the Government even though they sing out of tune at times when their o w n interests are tlireatened. That is w h y the people do not find the truth i n newspapers. Bengal has suffered much by this fake Independence. I ask y o u : W i l l you allow this gang of rulers to occupy the gaddi for another 25 years or even 5 years, or w i U you, b y carrying on a ceaseless campaign, overthrow them ?" I am not a Communist. But I appeal to the youth of my cotmtry: Propagate truth, have courage and the spirit of sacri­ fice. A n d i n the name of unity never do anything which is imjust. A report by Siudhi Pradhan (Speech delivered at the Srirangam Theatre on August 15, Unity, October


U n i t y joins its readers i n mourning the death of Rashida Jehan, front-rank U r d u writer and member of the U . P . Branch of the Indian People's Theatre Association.

1952) 1952



Rashida Jehan was suffering from cancer and went to Moscow for treatment, but eventually suc­ cumbed to the disease. A doctor as well as a writer, she began writing i n 1930, breaking new ground i n form and content, imbued with a love for her people.



T h e West Bengal I P T A Convention held last month at Naihati, birthplace of the famous novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, passed a unanimous resolution dedicating itself to the cause of Asian and world peace and a culture based on the struggle of the people for a better life. T h e resolution called on writers and artists i n the State to join with I F T A i n creating a national culture, and i n combating illiteracy, superstition, communahsm and provincialism, planted i n India by foreign rule. T h e Convention, the first of its kind i n West Bengal, was attended b y about five tliousand people, delegates from the dis­ tricts, workers from neighbouring factories, peasant singers and dancers. Veterans of the movement, Janaki BhaUav Bhattacharya, Ram Sahaya Vedanta Shastri, noted artists and dramatists, D i g i n Banerjee, Debabrata Biswas, Kshitish Bose, educationists H i m a n i Das Gupta and Anadi Bhattacharya, were on the dais: Omar Sheikh, the great singer of Maharashtra, greeted the delegates and visitors amidst great applause. Messages of greetings were read out from the famous Marathi writer, Anna Bhau Sathe, President of I F T A , and film director, N i m a i GhOsh. Lessons to be drawn from the history of the progressive thea­ tre movement and the tasks before the AU-India Convention i n December, were outlined b y Sudhi Pradhan, one of the early organisers of the movement, Hemango Biswas, composer and singer, and General Secretary, Niranjan Sen. The delegates' session decided that a new draft be made i n ­ corporating major changes i n the draft programme circulated before the Convention. This is to be placed before a Provincial Conference i n two months' time. A rich theatrical performance was staged during the Conven-



tion, the highhght of which was a drama on the life of factory workers, written b y a railway worker. Ram Narayan Roy, and staged b y railway workers from Kanchrapara. Songs b y Hemango Biswas and Salil Chowdhury, a tarja b y Paresh D h a r and dances b y Natt/a Chakna, formed part of the programme. The Convention elected the well-known dramatist, Sachin Sen Gupta, as President of West Bengal I P T A , N i r m a l Ghosh asGeneral Secretary, Salil Bose and Sanat Bhattacharya as Joint Secretaries, and Nibedita Das as Treasurer. Shanti Mukherjee was appointed Office Secretary. Unity, October



Since the morning of 13 September, JuUundur was witnessing a gigantic influx of people into the town. They poured i n from all sides—on trains, on buses, on tongas and bullock carts, on cycles and on foot—all asking for the Employment Exchange M a i d a n where the Congress was i n session. Towards evening even the city folk and those living i n the twelve surrounding bastis thronged to the maidan. The audience numbered 25,000 as the Mushaira began. In­ spite of the absence of the well-known poets like Jaffri, Kaifi, N i a z Haider and M o h a n Singh form the Pimjab itself, the Mushaira was quite a success. People cheered every poem on peace. Santokh Singh Dhir, Tera Singh Chan and Wattan Singh M a h l Chelan were prominent among the Punjabi poets. , Khemsingh Nagar, Sahib Singh Mehra, and Moodji firom U . P . and N a d i m from Kashmir were among those best appre­ ciated b y the audience. The Punjab Cultural Troupe presented a song-drama on American brutalities i n Korea written b y T. S. Chan. The audi­ ence by this time had swelled up to about 300,000 and it cheered every line of the songs. The Ferozepore District squad l e d b y the Sadhu Singh Talib presented an anti-war item which depicted the horrors of war simply and masterfully. T h e U . P . singing squad composed of Khemsingh Nagar, Moodji and Rajendersingh presented Rasia adapted to the theme of peace. The well-known R m j a b i song-



stress Surinder Kaur recited a number of Punjabi folk-songs and received round after round of applause. T h e JuUundur District squad led b y the intemationaUy known peasant poet Lakho Singh Lohan presented a scene from the war^rtom jungles of Malaya depicting the horrors inflicted on the Malayan people by the British imperialists. O n the evening of the last day's session a much more colour­ ful programme was presented beginning w i t h Call of the Valley written and produced by Sheila Bhatia who has established a tradition of utilizing folk-tunes for progressive themes. The Punjab group's item on peace, written b y poet Santokh Singh D h i r , produced b y Pratima, daughter of the famous Sardar Gurbakhsh Singh, witli music b y Khalil, the untiring music director of the troupe, was very much appreciated. A UnUy Reportef October


Seventh All-India





The Seventh AU-India People's Theatre Association Confer­ ence to be held shortly w i l l be a historic one. It wiU have new and unprecendented taksks before it and the possibility of rallying more lovers of the people a n d of culture around it than ever before i n its over ten-year history. It w i l l have to learn from the victories and reverses of its past i n order to gather together the widest sections of the Indian people for peace and independence, for a people's culture, for an end to hunger and nakedness. The name of I P T A is already one which is known and loved b y vast numbers of people i n India, and which is feared and hated by the enemies of the people. I n each State lakhs of men, women and children have been roused and inspired b y its songs, dances and dramas, have sat all night through its performances, have themselves sung its music, and have ap­ plauded the great people's artistes within its fold. Nevertheless, today more than ever before, much work re­ mains to be done. N o t more than a beginning has been made towards uniting all the lovers of peace and freedom and cul-



ture, towards helping to shape them into the powerful voice of the millions of India. T h e weather-beaten veterans of the people's theatre move­ ment recall with pride the early work of the movement, its part i n the national struggle for freedom, its work during the grim days of the Bengal Famine of 1943, its championing of the friendship of Hindus and Muslims during the dark days of communal fratricide which preceded the partition of the coun­ try under the nefarious Mountbatten Award. A n d I P T A gave many of its finest sons and daughters, who fell as martyrs under the savage repression of hii-elings of the people's enemies. If there is a lesson to be learnt from those days of struggle it is surely that the movement must not be restricted within the narrow walls of city theatres, must not become "sophisti­ cated" and lose contact \vith the broadest sections of the peo­ ple, must not water down its message of people's struggle, must draw ever newer sections into the movement, and create new writers and artistes even though it may have with it the most brilliant people's artistes of the time. The Seventh AU-India I P T A Conference must also draw its lessons from the period foUowing the Allahabad Conference of 1947, when the scope of work was restricted, when scant at­ tention was paid to raising the level of artistic production, when many undigested and often meaningless slogans passed i n the name of art, which were naturaUy incapable of inspiring the people and expressing their deepest dreams and their grandest desires. M u c h work has been done since those days, i n rebuilding the unity of the people's theatre movement, i n raising the artistic level of productions, i n taking the message of people's culture out to wide sections of the people, i n creating an art that is national i n form and borrows richly from the immense heritage of folk forms that we have i n our country, and which really touches the hearts of the Indian people. But today much, much more is to be done. T h e people's theatre movement must strive to unite all those groups near or far from it who have the same sincere aim i n view. It must strive to bring about that unity between the writers and the artistes that has been lacking i n the world of Indian culture for the last fifteen years. It must harness the genius and talent of the best progressive writers to write for the thea-



tre, to write poems that are written to be read aloud rath.^ than i n solitude, poems that can be written to music, plays that can niove lakhs, stories that can thrill millions. The Progressive Writers Association and the Indian Peoples Theatre Association wih, it is understood, be holding their Conferences at the sarnie time and it is hoped that the two w i l l work much more closely together, helping each other to grow. The Conference must take measures for the further broad­ ening of the people's theatre movement, must take it into the villages and factories and use the well-loved forms of the peo­ ple, must draw ever newer sections of people around it, must not become exclusively centred i n the cities and "sophisticated", must constantly raise its artistic level, and must not allow mxdigested things, things which do not touch the heart, to pass as art. The people's theatre movement w i l l grow strong when it brings folk artistes and writers on the one hand and artistes and writers from the factories on the other into the movement. It must tell the Indian people of the new world with its new culture being built i n the Soviet Union, People's China, the N e w Democracies of Eastern Eirrope. It must tell them of the plans of those warmakers who seek to destroy this new world and its happiness and are lighting the flames of war i n Asia. I t must tell them of the strength of this new world, of the gigantic and historic movement i n Asia and the world, participated i n b y •the finest men and women i n every country which demands freedom for all people to breathe their own air, and live under their own sun. A n d i n doing these things the menibers of I P T A w i l l remember that our own organisation was b o m out of the anti-fascist struggle, and grew out of the Anti-Fascist Writers and Artists Association i n 1943. It must b i n d together firmly i n friendship the brother people of India and Pakistan, frustrating all attempts to set them one against the other. It must demand an end to hunger and nakedness and must sing the tremendous iDOtentialities of our rich land and its peo­ ple, so that they can develop to their full height, so that omcountry too can become a land of songs and dances, so that each language and national culture can flower i n a l l its richness. The power of tlie people's artists of India is immense, aiid great are the weapons they wield i n the cause of happiness, in



the cause of international brotherhood and peace, and i n defence of the people of their country. L e t the Seventh All-India Conference unite into a mighty assembly all the lovers of culture, of peace, of freedom and of justice. L e t the voice of the people of India ring out into its grandest songs. Unity, November 1952


T h e whole progressive theatre movement mourns the loss of Prova D e v i , the actress "with the silver tongue", who died sud­ denly at her home i n Calcutta on Saturday, November 8, (1952-ed). Forty-nine year old Prova D e v i was loved b y both young and o l d theatre and screen-goers and she was engaged on at least two films when she passed away. A life-long associate of the great Sisir Bhaudri, she accom­ panied h i m on his tour to the United States i n 1930, where she was given great ovations. She was a close friend of the Indian People s Theatre Asso­ ciation and was among the first stage and screen stars i n West Bengal to come forward i n support of the world peace move­ ment. She was always eager to help the young and the new who learned a great deal by working next to her. Bengal mourns the loss of a great and sincere artiste. The





W i t h only about two months before the Seventh AU-India I.P.T.A. Conference takes place i n the first week of March 1953, it is necessary for all branches to begin preparations now to make this Conference a landmark i n the history of the peo­ ple s theatre movement. As pointed out i n the Editorial of the November issue of



Unity, "no more than a beginning has been made" towards developing I P T A as the real voice of aU lovers pf people's culture i n this country. - I am putting forward some suggestions here as to how the Conference and its Festival side w i l l be conducted, at least i n broad outlines, so that these can be discussed, elaborated and worked out i n detail. Responsibilities should be allotted immediately on the basis of these outlines to prepare the cultural items for the Festival, to prepare materials for the deliberations of the Conference and for the Exhibition. Funds wiH also have to be collected from now for the delegates' and artistes to attend. News of day-to-day preparations should be sent to the A l l India office regularly, so that the necessary publicity can be given to the activities of all provinces. E a c h linguistic area and branch should also mobilise support for the Conference and publicise its purposes and tasks. I.

The Delegates


Immediately after the opening of the Conference, the election of the Presidium, general reporting and the reading out of mes­ sages, the Conference should divide into five Commissions: Music, Drama, Dance and Shadow Play, F i l m , and Organisation. The Commissions w i l l first hear the papers prepared b y each province on the work of members of each section, and the final recommendations w i l l be made after a full discussion between the members of the Commission, which w i l l then be put before the entire Conference for approval. T h e general outline of the papers presented to the different Commissions should be as follows: (a) Music: W h a t are the folk forms and other existing forms of music i n each province; the living conditions of musicians i n the tovras and i n the countryside; what are the changes advo­ cated b y I P T A and their effects; whether influences of music of other countries have perverted or helped the development of music i n that area; how I P T A has used them and what is the effect; an analysis of the forms used and the ideas present in music during the last ten years or so ; how far I P T A has been able to go to the people with songs and how far those have been popular and moving and how far and why i f at all it has



failed; has I P T A i n that area been able to portray the strug­ gles and lives of the people and their desire for peace and pros­ perity, has it developed the traditions of music i n that province ; has it fought against attempts to destroy traditions or pervert that m u s i c ; suggestions for the procedure of working, indicating on which tiie greatest emphasis is to be laid, and for the research needed to be done on past traditions and present trends. (b) Theatre: History of the modem stage and folk forms and their present condition indicating the reasons, and what effect the new Outlook of I P T A had with regard to themes of dramas, acting, stage-craft, lighting and the desire of the peo­ ple for peace and prosperity; d i d I P T A get to the people; d i d it give new vitality to folk forms ; analysis of themes and pro­ duction of I P T A dramas ; where do tlie failings, i f any, of I P T A l i e ; suggestions for the futiire work of I P T A ; how can I P T A serve the people best through d r a m a ; suggestions for research needed to be done on past traditions and present trends. (c) Dance And Shadow Plat/: W h a t folk forms exist i n the area and how are they being revived and revitalised ; ballet, its development; shadow play, its history and development; the effect of the work, of I P T A on folk-dances, ballet and the shadow p l a y ; how can these forms be developed with the distinctive national characteristics of that area; how far these dances, bal­ lets and shadow-plays of I P T A become popular; analysis of themes and production of I P T A dances, ballets and shadow plays; where do the failings, if aiiy, of I P T A l i e ; suggestions for the the future work of I P T A and the research needed; how can these forms be used best to serve the people. (d) Film: Since a large number of I P T A members and pro­ gressive 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, w i l l form the main body of this Commission, papers for which should be prepared on the following broad lines: Condition of the industry to-day; how production and distribution are controlled; living conditions of film workers of all categories ; Govemment policy and British and American influence; strength and influence of progressive trends inside the film industry; is there any organised function-



ing with definite outlook; what suggestions can be made so that Indian films can inspire the people; what should be the role of I P T A ; how I P T A and progressive workers should work i n the film industry and what should be the relation with their work in IPTA. (e) Organisation: Each provinse should prepare an organisa­ tional report on present strength, units and squads, which section of people most members come f r o m ; which clubs and organisa­ tions are working together with. I P T A ; relationship with other theatre groups, amateur and professional; how ihany units exist among the workers and peasantry; problems of forming the units and squads among different sections; whether there is any journal and publications i n the language of the province ; past work of ihe units and squads ; how it participated i n helping to solve problems and i n die struggles of the people; training for new artistes and organisers ; financial position; tasks for the futtire and suggestions indicating where greatest emphasis should be laid. Next, what is felt should be the tasks of the AU-India centre, what machinery should be set up for day-to-day functioning ; exchange of reports; exchange of cultural troupes and creative materials, occasional training camps for artistes and organisers; relations with international artistes groups. Unity: H o w i n your view should Unity be run and improved what are its main tasks; how should it obtain its material for publication; composition of the Editorial Board, maintaining it and obtaining the finance; composition of the magazine. II.



The Festival is the part of the Conference where I P T A w i l l put its ideas into practice and show how far it has advanced, and so this is a most important part of our Conference. In planning the programme, each province should present those works of art, viz., song, dance, ballet, shadow play, drama, which are most easily understandable by an audience speaking different languages, while the items staged should be only the best specimens both i n theme and technic. Secondly, the most typical, powerful and popular folk forms should be presented. The items which are being entered i n tlie All-India Competi­ tion announced by Unity should, of course, be presented. It is intended to get the detailed opinion of the audience



about each of the items presented at the Festival part of the programme and to hold a session for reviewing the cultmal items. in.


It is proposed to have an Exhibition on the life and culture of the people of each province and on the history of I P T A . Photographs, paintings, sketches and sculpture, handicrafts, and toys and typical musical instruments can form this Exhibition. Charts and pictures could be used for the section depicting the history of I P T A . A third section w i l l be a collection of pictures, photographs and paintings of that part of the world where artis­ tes have full scope for their creative genius, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and N e w China. Thus the conscious and planned preparation for the C o n ­ ference will i n return activise the entire membership, instil en­ thusiasm and consolidate the movement of the province. The concluding sessions of the delegates w i l l adopt the reso­ lutions on policy, organisation and other important issues on tlie basis of the discussions i n the Commissions and resolutions adopted i n the conventions of the diiferent provincial branches. It should be fmther attempted i n real earnest to hold a joint session of members of I P T A and P . W . A . to discuss common problems, how to get written materials and how close relations can be established between these two organisations. If these things are done, the Seventh All-India I P T A C o n ­ ference w i l l be a historic starting point for a great advance of the people's theatre movement, as a national and democratic movement representing the diverse national cultures of the peo­ ples of India, expressing their lives, struggles and desires for the ending of hunger, nakedness and disease, for peace and pros­ perity, for real independence, for a rich and happy life and for a people's culture. NIRANJAN S E N Unity, December 19.52



The people's theatre movement i n Assam has always been a powerful one i n a State rich i n cultural traditions and with many nationalities and tribes. But severe Government repression



since 1949 has been responsible for giving the movement a severe setback. It was only i n 1951 that the first efforts at a revival and re­ organisation were made. Niranjan Sen, General Secretary of the Association, and Mantu Ghosh, weU-known Calcutta singer, therefore, left for Gauhati last month to be present at the first I P T A function i n the town after two years, a function dedicated to the memory of the friend and leader of the progressive cultural movement, Mr.: Jyotiprasad Agarwal. The function included dances on the theme of peace, folk dances and songs and a shadow play and was applauded b y the packed hall. M o n i Bora, a young and talented artiste of Nowgong, directed all the items. A number of cultural functions were later organised and for the first time I P T A songs were sung i n die Puja pandals, where even collections were permitted to be made for the movement. The future work of the Association was discussed with many old members who were attending a Professors' Conference i n the town, including Prof. Amalendu Guha of Tezpur, N a l i n i Misra of Sliillong and A b d u l Malik of Jorhat. Also present i n Gauhati was Raghunath Chowdhury, famous poet of Assam and living symbol of the best i n the art and literature of the State. H e presided over a meeting of I P T A members and friends to plan the future of the movement i n the State, and specially em­ phasised the need for taking people's theatre productions into the villages and drawing i n new artistes from there. H e also urged members to raise the artistic level of the productions and study long-neglected forms of art. A Cormnittee was formed at die meeting with M o n i Bora and H e m Sharma as Secretaries. T h e formation of a Provincial Committee immediately was proposed. The I P T A functions i n the town were reviewed for the first time b y a local paper which asked the Association to stage shows without elaborate settings and costiimes so that these could take place under any circumstances, and perform works which were easily understandable b y the people. In Shillong Conditions were different i n Shillong where it was difficult to meet old members and founders of the movement, even though



there was a general keenness to get the inovement going again and although the public were eager to see I P T A back on the stage. EventuaUy a gathering for a song rehearsal and discussion was held, and M a n t u Ghosh taught a number of songs to the local squad i n about one hour, and after another hour of rehearsing a function was held at the Opera H a l l . T h e almost impromptu performance was greatly appreciated b y a large audience, and a number of artistes among them came on to the stage and urged the organisers to go ahead with build­ ing up the Shillong Branch of the I P T A . Next, morning Mantu took more classes i n singing and a dis­ cussion about future work was held. Niranjan Sen met the wellknown artist Hemanto Misra and others. The discussions revealed that there were tremendous possi­ bilities for the movement, particularly among the h i l l tribes whose culture and ways of life are being crushed at the moment, although to whitewash the caUous policy of the Union Govem­ ment, a large amount of money is being spent to organise Fes­ tivals i n those areas. T h e fact that the very existence of the tribal peoples is threatened and that economic pressure is break­ ing u p their way of life and condemning them to live lives of want and suffering," is ignored b y the Govemment. The need for a central organisation at Shillong, therefore, which could take up the work was stressed at the discussions. T h e holding of the Provincial Convention is being eagerly awaited. Railway


F r o m Shillong, M a n t u Ghosh went to Pandu for a programme for railway workers, while Niranjan Sen went straight on to Dibragarh. It was the time when the inland marine workers were on strike, and thousands of people attended each perfor­ mance. A heart-warming incident took place after one of the shows, when Mantu, who was waiting to catch a bus after the function, suddenly turned round to find a little girl standing breathlessly next to him. She thanked h i m for the wonderful songs and then pressed some coins into his hand and ran home.



Songs in The Tea Gardens In Dibrugarh, it was evident that tremendous possibihties exist for the development of the movement and much work is being done, despite the severe crisis, i n the tea gardens and villages. After M a n t u arrived it was decided to stage a function at a school hall. The items were songs b y Sreemati Satya, a playlet On the lives of working people by Phani Das and a dance i n the Bihu style, the most popular i n the State. The function was again a great success and gave a start to the regular functioning of the movement i n Dibrugarh. Jorhat was the next stop, a district where all the Chhatras or Master Dancers are concentrated, and an area rich i n folk formslike Jhuniur, Tushu and others. But here, i n the surrounding districts, the tea garden labou­ rers i n gardens mainly owned by British companies are living i n great hardship. M a n y of the plays and songs composed b y Prof. Malik are very popular i n the area. After some discussion about how to start a movement i n the area so that the troupes could go out into the tea estate areas, rehearsals were held and funds collected and the first show was due to start i n the open air. As luck would have it, rain interfered and the function was eventually held i n a hall i n the town. B u t again there was a hitch—the microphone failed. The artistes, however, rallied to the occasion and performed without the microphone, while the audience sat i n pin-drop silence, determined not to miss a word of the songs. T h e same night Niranjan Sen and Mantu Ghosh were given a rousing send-off at the bus terminus as they began their journey back to Dibrugarh. Prof. Malik also reached the town i n time for a bigger and better show which, was staged i n a crowded hall. The following morning a long discussion was held about how to bring artistes from the rural areas and the tea gardens into the movement, and the formation of I P T A squads among railway workers-and the workers i n o i l companies i n Tinsukhia and Digboi. Also discussed were the utilisation of various folk forms and arrangements for an exchange of cultural materials with other States.



A Committee was finally elected with M r . N ; H , A h m e d as Secretary. At Silchar It was now time to leave the Assam Valley. Cultural workers i n L i u n d i n g at the Railway workshops asked to be visited and there were requests also to proceed to Manipur where much work was to be done. But after requesting the organisers i n Assam to do the need­ ful, Niranjan Sen and Mantu Ghosh went on to Silchar, the last stop of the torn:. Here members rehearsed eight hours a day on new songs and a play o n the theme of peace written b y a young worker. Des­ pite the heavy rain, a function held i n the town was a great success and the haU, lights and microphone were a l l placed at the disposal of the I P T A squad without any charge whatsover; A t a meeting the next day a Committee was formed with M u k u n d a Bhattacharya as Secretary and it was decided that village units and a District Committee would be formed.. Preparations are now being made a l l over the State for the Convention to be held on November 22 and 23. O n his return to Calcutta, Niranjan Sen s a i d : " W e came away with the haunting melodies of Assam i n our ears, and warm memories of the wonderful, hard-working, talented work­ ers of I P T A , eager to carry on the proud traditions of the move­ ment. This is the spirit which has made I P T A grow a n d flourish and is today needed more than ever." Report of a Tour Unity, November 1952


(This is a discussion article^ the importani points in wMch will be on the agenda of the All-India I.P.T.A. Conference) The compound word gana-natya has been newly introduced into the Bengali language. T h e Bengali members of th©- Indian People's Theatre Association are probably responsible for its introduction. It is made up of two Sanskrit words. These two ^^J)rds have been severally i n use for a long time i n Bengali.



The word gana is used i n Bengali i n combination with different words to. signify their plural number, and the word mtya means a story that is enacted. Although i n Sanskrit natyam is used also to mean the dance, it is not so i n Bengah. Nach is the Bengali word for dance. Even lyrical dramas are generally called gan or songs. Lyrical dramas with dialogue are called pala or pala keertan. Geetinatya is the word now-a-days used to mean the operatic drama. I do not know with what idea the Indian People's Theatre Association created the w o r d gananatya. But after seeing tlieir plays and the English words 'Peo­ ple's Theatre' frOm which the translation has been made—^I feel that they created this word to mean a special type of drama. Just as they have introduced the word gana-naiya to use it with a special meaning so also, long before their emergence, the political workers have used the word gana to mean a certain class of people. That class of people are the neglected, ex­ ploited common people. The Indian People's Theatre Associa­ tion has used the word gana i n that pohtical sense as a prefix to the word natya, probably to express the idea that the natyam or drama that they produce would portray the neglected, op­ pressed and exploited masses. But those who write these dramas or act i n them, have not come from that very class of people, for whom tliey write or whom they wish to portray i n their dramas. That social, politi­ cal and economic consciousness, to inspire which they create their dramas, is not yet b o m i n the hearts of those for whom the plays are written or whom they wish to portray. A n ad­ vanced section of the city people certainly possess that con­ sciousness. T h e organisers of the Indian People's Theatre move­ ment come from that advanced section of society. Hence i n the dramas produced by them, just as the rural liveliness of the village people or the gana becomes either arti­ ficial or stiff, or exaggerated, so also they cannot everywhere satisfy the gana or the masses either. The second weakness that is noticed is that characters are not taken forward to a logical development, through their own environments, but are dragged forcibly towards a pre-meditated development along a single track. It has also been noticed that those for whom the Peopile's Theatre has been created find greater pleasure i n witnessing dramas that have been staged for the last eighty years than 8



gam-natya. That is because those dramas are more colourful both i n costume and decor and i n dialogue and acting. Be­ cause one can give fuU play to one's imagination, i n this case, one can forget the privations and sufferings of real liEe. If the play is based on our ancient legends, they easily get a taste of the basic pleasure i n art. O n the other hand city-dwellers are tired of witnessing plays written i n the old style and are de­ lighted to see a reflection of rural life i n the play. Urban or Rural ? This pleasure i n witnessing the reflection of rural life does not mean that they desire to live that rural life or are interested i n improving the conditions of rural liFe. It is the appeal of novelty that pleases them. T h e y find something colourful i n this life, just as the masses of the villages find something colour­ ful i n the plays dealing with oru- ancient legends or history. N o w the question arises, w i l l the People's Theatre Associa­ tion concern itself with the responsibility of satisfying the urban audience and leave the task of pleasing the masses to the pro­ fessionals with their historic and legendary plays ? That w i l l prove that their new attempt is meaningless and they w i l l not be entitled to more praise than what is due for creating a tem­ porary variety. After some time the urban people w i l l again become anxious to witness their traditional plays and People's Theatre w i l l only mean crying i n the wilderness. It is necessary to find out one's duty i n such a situation. The first duty is to know this "people" of India and how and to what extent this "people" have become isolated from our social ilfe. Looking at our caste distinctions from outside, foreigners have come to the conclusion, that there never had been any soical contact between different castes among us. Some have expressed the opinion that the higher castes have united among them­ selves and have together kept the lower castes down. None of these ideas is wholly true. T h e Sudra is not allowed to read the Vedas, enter the temple or take water from a well or tank. It is true that many such restrictions have denied many people for long years of their birthright. But this is not the only true picture of India. These restrictions have been strengthened and liave been again and again wiped away too.




The struggle for the making of India has foxmd expression i n both these taken together. O n the basis of what accepted me­ thod of arriving at the truth shall we accept the conservatism of the conservative Brahmin as the truth and ignore the universal brotherhood of the learned Brahmin ? F o r the estabhshment of the rights of man, to raise society to new levels of progress. India has for centuries struggled, with her o w n people and their ideologies to reach a correct solution. B u d d h a did not come to India with foreign ideas borrowed from foreign lands. It was the reaction of the clash of India's own ideologies which found expression i n him. This is true of Sri Chaitanya as weU. M e n have appeared who raised barriers and they have been followed b y men who broke them. But none of them had to release a tide of bloodshed to achieve either of these two ends. This is so because those who have undertaken these tasks, have not achieved them on all occasions or at all times with the help of the State power. Just as they never had the support of the armed forces, so also they never desired such support. T h e kings used to run the State, but allowed the education and social-culture of their subjects to flourish without any inter­ ference. The picture of serfdom that we find i n the history of foreign countries, cannot be found i n exactly the same way i n the history of India. Because India could accept the funda­ mental rights of man, she had to wage a struggle only on the ideological plane for the transformation of man. India had long ago assimilated the experience that force may be used to subjugate or enslave man, but it can never change his mental make-up. I n India many Brahmins have turned Kshatriyas and many Kshatriyas Brahmins, many Kings have become ascetics and many ascetics have run the State; many Hindus have become Buddhists and many Buddhists Hindus. A U these transformations have taken place as a result of re­ volutionary struggles on the ideological plane. E v e i i those who have come to India from outside, with sword i n hand, marking their trail witli blood and have conquered our country, estabhshed an empire here, have replaced their swords i n the scabbard after seizing power and have become anxious to wipe away the trail of blood. Moved b y the ideo­ logical struggle they too have tried to introduce new trends of



a philosophy of life. This is true both of rulers and religious reformers. Many Hindus have become Mushms, just because Islam permits a change of religion. But Hinduism is not a re­ ligion based on a certain ideology and hence it has no provisions for a change of religion b y people professing other religions. The H i n d u has sometimes become a Shakta, worshipper o f strength and sometimes a Vaishnava, worshipper of love. Some­ times he has described Brahma as having form and sometimes as without form, has called him the aU-powerfuh and also the one with no qualities, unknowable, unexpressed; he is every­ where from the bit of grass to the topmost height of a p i l l a r ; he is one and he is m a n y ; the multiplicity of the many is concen­ trated i n the One. I say aU these just to show that India has been flooded b y varied philosophies of life, caught i n the clash of such waves and the entire people of India have been moved a n d agitated b y these events again and again. A n d just because these flood-tides had risen from ideological questions, no wall, no barrier could stem the tide i n the minds of the people or isolate them from the philosophy of life of the entire nation. Hence i n the midst of all the differences there has been a sense of unity. T h e classes of India have not become completely isolated from the masses of India. The outward expressions and forms are certainly very different. There is another point. T h e Bengali language i n which w e write our plays is not the Bengali spoken b y all the Bengalees. The hterary language of Bengal has been created b y the educated Bengali mainly from Sanskrit. T o increase its vocabulary many words from other languages like Arabic, Persian, U r d u , Portu­ guese, French, English, Dutch, etc., have been incorporated. But when the unlettered people of the village Hsten to the plays, the jatras or operas, the katkakathas, written i n the literary lan­ guage, they do not consider the language to be foreign or alien. Sanskrit H o w is the language so full of Sanskrit words intelligible to them ? They have after all never studied Sanskrit. Actually, ninety-nine per cent of them are still unlettered. More, the spoken languages of different districts are so different, that the inhabitants of one district cannot follow the spoken language of another without some effort. But those who use the literary



language do not have to make such an effort to understand one another, as the ordmary people have to. The reason is that the creators of this literary language of today came to the cities from their close association vvith the people. I n the same way the creators of Bengali literature i n the past, i n the days before the creation of the literary langu­ age, had risen from the masses. Those who aspired to rise to the intellectual heights used to study Sanskrit. Because the centres of literature or knowledge had not yet been basically isolated from the life of the people, the unlettered too were not deprived of literature and knowledge. Hence the Bengah language, so heavily loaded vdth Sanskrit words, does not seem foreign to them. In the plays, jatras and kathx>kathas based on the ideals taught i n our ancient scrip­ tures, the Upanishads and Puranas, they find a ready response t o the values of their own consciousness. That even the Mushm listen to these with pleasure and keeimess and are moved or consider themselves benefited, is due to the fact the Puranas, the Upanishads or the ancient philosophy of the Hindus do not deal with any religion but the religion of man. They try to give all men the key to the eternal truth. After the British established their rule over India the centres of literature and learning shifted from the village. The new economic order of the British drew the intellectuals from the viUage to the town. Because the British had to establish indus­ tries here, b y bringing the wherewithals from abroad, the i n ­ dustrial areas grew round the capital city, just as d i d the trading centres. Of course it was not possible to shift the' plantations or the mines to the capital. But the owners separated them from tlie rest of the country just like colonies. T h e local people had contacts with them only as labourers or servants. Migration The nation never got the opportunity to reahse that these plantations and mines constituted the wealth, the invaluable wealth of the nation. Nobody even realised that if they could be -converted into national property, they could transform the very character of the nation. It was not only the educated classes who began to leave the vihages, the able-bodied unlettered people also began to migrate to the industrial areas of the foreign merchants to earn more money as workers.



"Where they d i d not want to go voluntarily as to the planta­ tions, they were induced with false hopes, and sometimes com­ pelled to sign servile bonds of contract and taken away b y force. Thus the rural homes of the educated served as a place of shel­ ter for unemployed or widowed dependents. T h e y maintained their livelihood on the pittance sent home b y their guardian from the city. T h e village died, F i n d i n g the rural people weak and helpless the exploiters began to exploit them mercilessly. Injustice developed because the control of society weakened. Litigation and the interests on debts, made it impossible for money to accumulate i n the hands of the peasants. T h e y began to break down i n despair. Diseases entrenched themselves i n their weak bodies. They can no more dauce with sheer joy during the festival of the new harvest, no longer do they with full-throated joy do reverence to the god of the shepherds, sitting on the back of the buffalo; no longer can they distribute sweets to the children during the winter festival; forgetting the moving strains of the padaoali-keertan, now and then they go out singing the name of the presiding deity con­ cerned, during the epidemics of cholera or small pox, inspired b y the primitive urge to live. Self


Their songs, dances and plays have become, lifeless. Yet tradition keeps alive i n the minds of some^—^the flow of the plesures of poetry like the waters of the hidden stream Phalgu. Here and there one meets a solitary bard or minstrel, or wit­ nesses a gathering for collective dances and songs. I n such dances and songs one catches a glimpse of the enchanting fancies of the ethereal regions, gets an idea of the urge to make the duU gray life colourful and vibrating. This self-expression of theirs is also natya, real people's theatre. But one finds a commonness between this and the urban attempts at one point. That is_ the disgust for realism and the attraction for the mysteries of the ethereal. Just as the entire nation has been making a compromise i n every social conflict, so also i n individual life they have been making a compromise with poverty and suffering. Life is nmya. T h e pleasures and pains of life are very much of the moment. Complete calm, complete peace exists i n the world beyond. So spend your life somehow or other, keep yourself ready to respond with delight



to the call of that great departure. I n tune with the notes of a single-stringed musical instrument thus sings a solitary haul emerging from the midst of many, on the village path. The mysticism that breathes through the words and the tunes of his song is not at a l l unreal. Those, from amidst whom he has emerged seem to find an echo of the passionate desires of their souls, i n the words of his songs, the musical notes that emerge from the throat, i n the passionate appeal to know the unknown. That too is not unreal. Throughout the centuries, all our cul­ tural traditions have nurtured the entire nation, irrespective of education or the lack of it, i n the atmosphere of mysticism and romanticism. I am speaking of the Bengalee nation. E v e n at the root of the flames that revolutionary Bengal has spread all over India to destroy the python-like bonds of slavery, were the spiritual appeal of Srimathbhagbat Geeta, the mysticism of Bankim and a romantic appeal of nationalism borrowed from Christianity. That is but as it should be. W h a t else could the children of the well-watered, fruitful motherland full of the cool breeze and with her green fields overflowing with com, aspire for i n life ? Whatever they needed, had been provided for i n abundance by the mother earth. That was enough to meet the needs of the day. W h y should they not devote their time i n search of what had not been made available, that unknown artist, mmour of whose existence could be found i n the green crops on the fields, the silver lines of the rivers and streams, the deep dark waters of canals, ponds and lakes, the wealth of green leaves of the palm, the wonder of forest glades, the blue expanse of the sky, i n the flower-like garland of white-winged birds kissing the dark clouds on their flight across the heavens. Inspired


The spring lays open her young buds, the summer rouses the desire for possession, the rains fill the mind with the longings of separation, the autumn paints the decorations of the coming of new pleasures, the pre-winter days are full of the tremors of ex­ pectations and winter remains overshadowed b y the triumphal chariots of Spring, overwhelmed with the thoughts of the i n ­ evitability of the varied play of a feast of colours of youth. A l l nature, the wealth of the seasons, the unbroken atmos-



phere of life, lift them from the solid earth and make them float on the air, with the constant touch of tender affection and mad­ dening drink of illusion, and inspire them to search for the un­ known, leaving behind the known on the dust of the earth like a shrunken leaf. They wonder what wealth does season after season bring for them. T h e y gaze on that wealth and take delight in it. Their minds become full. But they cannot hold fast to any season. The seasons pass b y giving just that much and no more than what they have to g i v e ; they make the men dance Avith hope, and move them with happiness, make them shed tears of sadness and seem to numb them with pain. T h e dust of gold seems to gather on the layers of their soul. But that gold does fill their soul. They want the ultimate touch of the touch­ stone—about which that haul who has risen from their own society, sings that it w i l l bring the brightness of gold to the b o d y and soul, there w i l l be no trace of dirt or ugliness anywhere, if you can get that ultimate touch. This consciousness of the mass-mind of Bengal is not i n the least exaggerated. If the heap of dross under which this con­ sciousness is buried to-day is once removed, the champak flower that w i l l be seen, w i l l have just that colour, that fragrance, that beauty. T h e question now is whether it w i l l be possible to change its colour, beauty and fragrance, spreading abroad all the sweetness of the champak from it and transform it into the kingshuk and palash flowers. Many say that it is certainly pos­ sible. I do not say that it w i l l certainly be possible, neither do I maintain that it is impossible. The transformation of man is a historical truth. Indian philo­ sophy has proved this truth by testing it on the fire that man can be so transformed with the wealth of divine virtues that it is possible to feel the existence of divinity i n every man. If man can be transformed into G o d , why cannot the champak be trans­ formed into the kingshuk or palash. It can be done. But the soil has to be changed. Palash does not grow on the same soil on which the champak grows. It is not enough to change the soil. Nature too must be brought under control; the whole atmosphere must be given a new shape. T h e green of the paddy fields has to be transformed by mingling it witli the blue-black of the steel machine. The river has to be dammed b y a wall of stone and from its waters electric power has to be generated. Its waters overflowing on



either bank have to be guided into the ploughed fields. The darkness that spreads up to the horizon has to be removed with the lights of innumerable factory chimneys. Schools, colleges, museums, health resorts, hospitals, theatres, dancing halls and sports stadiums, have to be built. T o the limbs of men have to be brought the hue of the divine and into their souls must be poured the seven colours of the rainbow. A U this may not transform the champak into the king­ shuk, but it w i l l certainly remove the garbage heap under which the champak is to-day buried. Then it wUl be seen whether the champak has been transfoiined into the kingshuk. If it is, there w i l l be nothing to be sorry about, because this transformation, w i l l be a natural one. There w i l l be'nothing to be sorry about even if there is no transformation, which w i l l only prove that, that is its natural state. Now, those who wish to help this blossoming of the masses through the stage, w i l l have to be aware of the real character and natural form of the flower, as well as keep i n view the task of removing the dross. Hence their plays must not only be poetic, mystic, romantic, but pure realism must also be made spiritual. That can be done. Many novelists and playwrights are doing it and wiU continue to do so i n the future. Plays can be written on all the subjects, which I have mentioned as necessary to remove the dross. The transformation of agriculture and of the rivers, the birth of factories, the transformation of the theatre, the friendship be­ tween man and machine, the beauty of cottage industries, the disappearance of ignorance before the light of knowledge—all these are dynamic and dramatic subjects. Hence they can all be the material for plays, dance dramas, lyrical dramas, etc. Similarly the dreams and aspirations of the champak can certainly find expression i n a drama. A n d all these w i l l not be plays with a special character imposed upon them, not People's theatres, i n a specially restricted sense, but theatres of the entire people, of the entire nation. Some


If what I have so far said has been clearly understood, I do not think that there w i l l be much objection about accepting the following observations:



A . There is no need to give a special meaning to the w o r d gana and attempt to give a special form to gana natya. I n our culture the one and the many are nourished b y the same stream of ideas. T h e play is written b y one man, but many are de­ picted b y h i m to make it acceptable to the many. If he keeps a' class isolated from that many it w i U mean the rejection of a large section of lihe many and thus defeat the object of his playwriting. B . If liie gana want our ancient legendary plays, which I know they do, there is no reason to consider the work of meet­ ing that demand a sign of backwardness. The strong characters,, the healthy idealism which are to be found i n the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and i n our Puranas w i l l liberate, from wear­ iness, the people's minds overwhelmed vwth the many a mean­ ness. C . It is not correct to think that it is harmful to bring a touch of colour to the minds of people deprived i n more ways than one, because it is not real. D . It is not enough to think that the gana of Bengal are alone helplessly withering away. It has also to be remembered that the intellectuals of Bengal too have been cornered and brought to the edge of a precipice beyond which stretches limitless vacuity. One must remember that the gana of Bengal are to-day so helpless due to disease, debts, starvation, and lack of education, that they cannot make any attempt themselves for their own betterment. One must remember that the intel­ lectuals of Bengal, bent under the weight of useless education, unemployed, weak due to lack of nutritious food, the victims o f tuberculosis, are also helpless like the gana of Bengal. A n d yet without their bold help the weak gana can never become strong. E . A drama is not just a reflection of life. It is a reflection of such a bigger reality of life that floods the human m i n d with the overwhelming desire for transformation and the urge to work for it. Such plays as make men depressed, opposed to efforts and struggles are certainly harmful. F . T h e hues that colour the ^minds of men, the luxury of fancies, the desire to know the unknown are not just dependent on education or reason, they have found place i n the minds of men as their birthright. Hence the chief duty of the producer is to make the play dramatic. If that is done, it is possible not only to please all men, but also to educate and inspire them.



In conclusion the demand for close hnks with all peoples is intimately associated with the forms of the play. Putting the word 'people' before 'theatre' i n the attempt to create a special type of plays w i l l not only isolate the trend of dramas from the trend of national ideas, but w i l l deprive the people's theatre of fuU contact and co-operation with the nation. If the People's Theatre can make the entire nation its theme and enliven, dehght and inspire the many that is more important than the one, it w i l l flood the tOMms and villages with the tide of life and en­ able to transform the entire nation. Sachin Sengupta Translated from Bengali by Subrata Banerjee Unity, December 1952


— A reply to M r . Sachin Sen Gupta— W r i t i n g i n 'The Times of India', " A d i b " has made a number of interesting points i n reply to Sachin Sen Gupta's article on "People's Theatre i n India" i n the January issue of 'Unity'. W e reproduce below the relevant portions of "Adib's" comments to help further discussion on the important question involved. W h y is it that the ballet or dance drama form does not lend itself easily to the delineation of contemporary life ? T o a dramatisation of the ravages of the cold war, the blight of po­ verty that settles on millions of households, often destroying the very quick of the human i n men and women, the odds i n the struggle for a fuller life, neurotic tensions and resentments, the endless slums of the human mind i n a civilisation going to pieces ? H o w does it happen that dramatic pieces and poems, so remote i n time as the Ramayana, retain a far more intimate interest for the audience than plays dealing with contemporary themes, with strikes, corruption i n high places and the frus­ trations of an acquisitive society? The manner i n which these and perhaps many other questions present themselves may seem to contradict the view that all vital art must be a reflection of social reality. The contradiction is however, only apparently so. So far as the ballet and the dance drama forms are concerned, they are unsuited for con­ temporary themes for the reason that the enchantment resulting



from some distance i n time is part of their essential charm. But diis is b y no means the whole truth about them, for like music, they too can reach out to the heart of contemporary modes of feeling. O n l y by their very nature they have to be somewhat indirect i n their approach, often depending on symbolism in­ stead of concrete images of contemporary social life. As for the intimate interest the public continues to take i n ancient plays and poems, it only testifies to their superiority as works of art. T o get at a proper perspective it is better to ask what the new has to offer before asking why the people still prefer the old. If this is done it w i l l be seen that the new does not go down with the people, not because it is new but be­ cause it has little to give to them. It is not the attempt to pack the plays with contemporary meaning that is misguided. The fault lies i n the failure to get that meaning across to the audi­ ence, i n the ignorance of the art, which can alone make a drama come alive i n the people's minds. It is a measure of the poverty of current criticism i n this •country that this ugly fact has been evaded not only by those who are indifferent to social problems but even by those who label themselves progressives. Indeed it is not surprising to find that even such a well-meaning ^person as M r . Sachin Sen Gupta, the noted Bengali playwright, can go woefully wrong i n diagnosing the ills that afflict the contemporary Indian theatre. In an article written for the January issue of Unittf, M r . Sachin Sen G u p t a goes completely astray—^imless I miss the irony of what he says—in ascribing the failure of those who write for the People's Theatre to the fact that "that social, poli­ tical and economic consciousness, to inspire which they create their dramas, is not yet born i n the hearts of those for whom the plays are written or whom they wish to portray." It is because of this lack of consciousness i n the masses, or rather because of its presence i n the writers, that i n their plays, concludes M r . Sachin Sen Gupta, "the liveliness of the village people becomes artificial or stiff or exaggerated" and their characters, instead of being carried foi-ward to a logical dev­ elopment, "are dragged forcibly towards a premeditated dev­ elopment along a single track." If the language is flatulent and obese, if the action lacks •dramatic reasons, if the characters are only dummy sloganmongers, if the drama turns out to be only an inefficient pam-



phlet, obviously the political or social consciousness of the writer or of the audience has little to do with the results. The play gets stilted not because the writer is convinced of the social roots of tragedy and the audience is not, but because the writer's consciousness is not matched by a grip on the essential truth of the complex hfe of his characters and b y the ability to render this complexity i n terms of drama. It may be that the audience is not as sharply aware of the issues at stake as the writer, but to regard tliis as an excuse for b a d plays is to beg the question. For, it should be the primary purpose of contemporary drama to make articulate the issues which are inarticulate i n the pubhc mind, to cut across the thick fog of hypocrisy and cant in the conduct of pubhc affairs which often conceal the motivations of social policies from the people, and to bring into sharp focus those tragedies of which the spec­ tators, unable to correlate them to the social conflict,* are but dimly aware. It is a gratuitous assumption, moreover, to think that plays concerning r m a l life which fail with rural audiences succeed with people in the towns because "they find something colour­ ful i n this life just as the masses of the villagers find something colourful i n the plays dealing with ancient legends or history". Indeed plays which do not develop b y their inner logic and i n which the political or social conclusions are superimposed, do not go well vwth the urban audience as well. W h a t is objection­ able i n M r . Sachin Sen Gupta's analysis is the suggestion that people go to see plays only for their colour, for the escape they afford them from the drab routine of their hfe. T o anyone familiar with the immense popularity of plays projecting social problems i n the dramatic clash of characters, such a proposition cannot but appear as wholly reactionary. Indeed the specta­ cular success of Shaw's plays i n the West show that plays rooted i n social realities can have an immense appeal for the people even i n the absence of convincing characterisation. Shaw's wit makes even his mouthpieces interesting. Those who fail here with their plays of ideas apparently do not have even that sav­ ing grace. A live theatre is always hospitable to fresh ideas, and though it is only too obvious that such ideas must have relevance to tlie conditions of life here, it would be suicidal i f Indian playwrights were to choose their ideas on the basis of their origin. "India,"




writes M r . Sachin Sen Gupta, "has for centuries, struggled with her own people and their ideologies, to reach a correct solution. T h e Buddha d i d not come to India with foreign ideas borrowed from foreign lands. It was the reaction of the clash of India's own ideologies which found expression i n him. This is true of Shri Chaitanya as weU." But what about the countries to which Buddhism came from abroad ? W o u l d they have been justified i n rejecting it simply because it d i d not have an indigenous origin ? M r . Sachin Sen Gupta fails to ask these questions with the result that he also faUs to see that all the political, social and economic institutions which we have i n this country today are derived from outside, and that they affect, both for good and i l l , the quality of social and individual life i n this country. H o w can the playwright afford to be indifferent to foreign ideas when these affect the very nature of the raw material of his work ? It w i l l be uncharitable to attribute an overweening national pride to so sophisticated a playwright as M r . Sachin Sen Gupta, but his statements do lend themselves to such an interpretation. A n y drama to be effective has to be rooted i n reality as well as i n the national tradition. Search for social content does not mean the emptying out of memory like slop. The playwright has to be keenly aware of history, not past but i n the making, aware not only of his people's yesterdays and todays but also of their tomorrows. M r . Sachin Sen Gupta's plea that "a drama is not just the reflection of life but a reflection of the much bigger reality of life that floods the human m i n d with the over­ whelming desire for transformation and the urge to work for i t " is only a rhetorical way of saying the same thing. Contemporary Indian drama has failed to stir the people not hecause it is too conscious of social realities but because it is not sufficiently aware of them i n the way it should be. Even as claptrap it is ineffective. It is my way of accusing those who wriie for the theatee of a banality which ceases to attract even its none too fastidious customers. A n American writer, Lorenzo Semple, has best described the mechanism of claptrap. According to him, "it hopes to catch applause by one of two diametrically opposed qualities it may possess: (1) It may be so familiar, such a time-worn cliche, that the most ignorant member of an audience can safely fancy him-



self as having said that under the given circumstances; and (2) it may be so obscure, but so prettily couched, that the most ignorant member of the audience can wish he had said that under the given circumstances." It is a fact that except i n rare cases, the cliches used b y Indian playwrights do not appeal even to the ignorant. I n a country like ours there are a hundered tragedies of everyday life and a hundred fares crying out for dramatic treatment. If our playwrights fail to project any of these into hving drama, it is not because of "angry circumstance" but be­ cause of the "moral self-abuse" of which even the more socially conscious among them are frequently guilty. I am not thinking of those playwrights who, like some of the film story-writers and directors, write only to bamboozle their customers b y catering to their prejudices and ignorance. Their ''cold, uncooked and greasy" product hardly falls within the category of dramatic art. I am referring only to those creative minds who are not able to produce any heat i n their work be­ cause their present boiling point is too low—^to those whose opinions, i n the words of the late M r . Yeats, "are unable to consume themselves i n the dramatic flames." But, as M r . Sean O'Casey said in reply to M r . Yeats, "the only way to prevent the dramatist from expressing his opinions is to b u r n the artist." A n analysis of the social problems, which project themselves i n the tragedy of thousands of individual lives, cannot but involve a dearly-held social philosophy. What I am trying to emphasise is that a mere sentimental journey to the Left i n preference to a cynical flight to the Right is no substitute for such a philosophy. T h e writer's views must not resolve themselves into a mau­ dlin sentimentality. They must evolve out of the total action of the play and not sit like an angry or laughing mask. The playwright can write complainingly, protestingly, even defiantly about contemporary disorders. But he cannot succeed with his audience i n the way all great drama does, unless he can make the anger and the protest b u m into the mind of the audience as a deeply-felt experience. The Indian playwright must leam to study life i n the raw and at close quarters. Even a child knows that a m.ouse squeaks, a monkey chatters and a turkey says gobble gobble. But the weasels, the skunks, the cows and the pigs i n the Indian



problem plays seem to speak the same language. The play­ wrights fail to make convincing individuals of them. It w i l l be too much, of course, to expect the playwright to squeeze every social problem into a ball and hurl it at the audi­ ence, but a vigorous playwright should be at least able to shake the complacency of his audience b y a shock therapy which only drama is able to administer. H e should be able to show to peo­ ple the heartlessness of social institutions which humiliate and degrade the individual and make an automation of him. But he can do this only if he realises that a living and vigorous theatre does not mean "the triumph of sugar over diabetes," that it does not admit of any departiu-e from the truth, however painful i t may be. The playwright cannot afford to "poke and pull and prod" his data. T h e case he makes out must be supported b y irrefutable evidence. Only thus can Indian drama regain its stature and the Indian playwright be absolved from making cowardly amends. My Experiences

with the Shadow Play

The shadow play has been experimented with for some years now b y the various units of I P T A as well as other modern theatre groups i n all parts of the country. It is about time that some attempt was made to gather the experience of all these groups and come to certain conclusions on the form of the shadow play, for the further development of the form itself. I shall endeavour i n this article to relate a few of my own ex­ periences with the shadow play. The first thing that strikes one is its universality of appeal. I have produced shadow plays in English before University audiences at Madras, and then had the same plays translated into T a m i l and Telugu to be produced before essentially working-class audiences i n M a d u r a and pea­ sant audiences i n some portions of Andhra. In the first instance, we had all the facilities of the College Physics research laboratory at our disposal; i n the latter cases, we had to make shift with an improvised stage and imperfect lighting arrangements. But the response from all the audiences, seeing the play under varied conditions, was uniformly good. W h a t is the reason for this appeal of the shadow play ? The answer to the popularity of the shadow play is almost always to be found, I think, i n the theme it conveys. T h e shadow play is best suited for bringing out the fullest depths



of certain themes and particular dramatic values. A n d be it noted, it is suited only for these themes and situations. This is speciality of the shadovy play, as also its limitation. Scenes which are supercharged with emotion, like a heroic struggle or intense suffering are best suited for this medium. Mass action particularly, can be very vividly conveyed, more than i n any otlier dramatic form. The shadow play also serves as a useful medium for docu­ mentaries where the representation of historic personalities and incidents becomes easier and more effective than on the stage. Symbolic effects, illusions like ghosts, famine, and grotesque figures can be conveyed only through the shadow play. It has also been used as a 'flashback' or dream i n the midst of ordinary dramas. The suitability of only specific themes for the shadow play, is due to the special character of the form. Shadows can never portray reality i n all its aspects as comprehensively as the drama or much more so, the films. Actors have generally to keep very near the. screen, unless grotesque effects are desired; and hence the full depth of the stage cannot be utilised. Three dimensional impressions cannot be conveyed. T h e shadows w i l l look a l l messed up, unless the actor renders every action of his with a precision bordering on rhythm., T h e shadows look better i n profile, than otherwise. Suitable faces and figures are to be particularly looked for i n the actors. Subtle movements, delicate gestures, a ripple of action, which would convey a world of meaning on the stage and help to build the dramatic value of the play as w e l l as the characterisation of the role concerned, have no place i n the shadow play. Even where individual characters are introduced, they would tend to be more typical, rather than particular; for characterisation is almost impossible. W i t h such restrictions imposed on the very theme and the acting, we can see why it is that the shadow play is not useful for aU themes. Unless a plot lends itself to be written and composed as a highly overacted melodrama, it is best not to attempt it through tlris medium. B u t once we have such a plot and it has been written with an eye to giving enough scope for broad and sweeping movements, once some rhythm is also introduced into the acting, we w i l l find that it w i l l hold the audience's attention from beginning to the end. 9



So much about the theme for a shadow play. Next i n i m ­ portance is the commentary. It is because of the existence of a commentary i n the shadow play that it becomes so popular i n the vihages. O u r peasants ah over the country, are used to listening to stories being related i n a v i v i d form, either as ballads or songstories or i n any other of the myriad folk forms that exist. Almost all folk forms of drama and dance are accom­ panied by story-teUing, which is often verse or song. It is this tradition that the connmientary, particularly when it is inter­ spersed with songs, satisfies. So sufficient importance should be given to the commentary. The language of the commentary itself should not be con­ versational or prosaic. It should be gripping, powerful, lyrical and even epigrammatic. T h e voice of the commentator should be capable of rich modulations. T h e introduction, i n suitable situations, of dialogue w i l l add to the performance. Sufficient attention should also be given to technical effects i n a shadow play. W e should not forget that there is room for more experimentation which should lead to newer and newer innovations that are not possible elsewhere. W e require the minimum of a white screen and a source of light, for which even a petromax lantern has been found to be sufficient. These are enough for simple shadow play. But more effects have been successfully attempted. B y moving small models of tanks and aeroplanes, and by burning incense just i n front of the lantern, w e get on the screen b i g shadow effects of warfare. B y throwing on an actor a light of less candle-power than the main light and at right angles to the main light-that is from above the head of the actor, we w i l l be able to bliu* the shadow of the particular actor concerned, making it look like a ghost. M o r e such 'tricks' are sure to be evolved and they w i l l keep on improving the uniqueness of the form. W e have also been able to produce successful colour effects'. Colomred. slides are prepared b y the ordinary processing me­ thods. A magic lantern is used as the source of illumination and the image of the slide is thrown onto the screen. This serves as the background of the scene. O n l y the shadows of the characters w i l l be dark. If the slide is prepared with opaque, the audience w i l l see h i m as standing behind the object itself. W e also once used actual photographs taken with a colom: cine-camera and projected on the screen.



But the best of our achievements was, I think, when i n a smaU mofussil town i n A n d h r a we produced a shadow play on Rayalaseema. There were no magic lanterns available and no electricity. StUl we were determined to produce colour scenes. W e built our ovra magic lantern with a kerosene oil tin and tin tubes, ihuminated it with a baby petromax and projected col­ oured shdes on to a screen of 1 6 x 1 2 feet. T h e scenes were visible nearly a furlong away i n the open field. I have always attached importance to music right through the play to heighten effect and bring out the shadows and the commentary more fuUy. Most often, we have used simple i n ­ struments. A n d on a few occasions, vocal background music .just humming a few folk melodies or Ragas, has been found quite effective. T h e success of a shadow play depends on the excellence of all these components. There is still much room for innovation^ and the theatre lover who wishes to experiment, w i l l find i n the shadow play a rich and popular art form. M . B . Srinivasan Unity, February





O n the initiative of the Maharashtra section of IPTA's Bom­ bay branch, the Maharashtra Provincial Conference was con­ vened to unify the various squads i n the districts of Maha­ rashtra. Great interest i n the Conference was shown b y pro­ fessional and amateur theatre groups alike, and the Conference became one i n which artists and intellectuals of various shades of opinion united i n order to serve better the people and art. Although the draft pohcy statement of I P T A guided the deli­ berations, the Conference became an independent one i n which I P T A members took an active part. The Preparatory C o m ­ mittee was expanded into a Reception Committee which i n ­ cluded M r . Narotham Phatak, noted historian who has just returned to India after a visit to China, and Omar Sheikh. Another famous historian, Mahamahopadhyay Datto B a man Poddan, presided, and veteran actor Natyacharya Keshab Rao Datta, formally declared the Conference open.



The Conference was the biggest assembly for many years of artists and historians i n Maharashtra. T h e three hundred dele­ gates included working class and peasant artists, amateur •theatre groups and representatives of the professional theatre world i n Bombay, as well as prominent figures like C . R. K o l hatkar, Vasiant Desai, Parvati Kumar, M a m a Warerkar and many others. It was a great step towards the building of a united theatre movement i n Maharashtra, and the Conference raised significantly the demand for the formation of linguistic provinces i n the country. The five-day cultural festival was also a unique event, i n which classical and m o d e m musicians took part i n the same programme as members of Tamasha and Powada groups. The Conference started on January 14 with a song of welcome to delegates and guests, composed b y Anna Bhau Sathe and set •to music b y K a n u Ghosh. After the President had welcomed the gathering and the Conference was formally inaugurated, a Drafting Committee was elected to guide the discussions and place the main resolutions before the final session. F o r the first three days, besides discussions on policy and organisation, specific resolutions were put forward protesting to the Gov­ ernment against the existence of famine conditions i n many parts of the country and demanding immediate steps to am­ eliorate the living conditions of the people worst affected; a demand for the lifting of present censorship regulations; and the reduction of entertainment tax. A n organising Committee was elected with N . R. Phatak as President and Omar Sheikh as Secretary. This w i l l function like a central federal body of all art organisations and individuals who are not connected witli any organisation. T h e Committee w i l l be called "The Samjukta Maharashtra Lok-Natya Sangh". A t the same time the I P T A delegates and representatives from other groups closely associated w i t h the I P T A , who had ar­ rived from thirteen different districts including Bombay, elected* an Organising Committee with Omar Sheikh as President and Sm. Pushpa Kothare as Secretary. These delegates also passed the I P T A policy resolution. D u r i n g the last two days of the Conference, papers were read by Anna Bhau Sathe on Tamasha, b y M a m a Warerkar on Problems of the Stage, by Vasant Desai on Music in the Film Industry, b y Parvati K u m a r on The Art of Dancing, b y C . R.



Kolhatkar on Politics in the Drama, and others, aU subjects being deah with i n relation to problems of Maharashtra. The open session at the Kamgar Maidan i n Bombay was attended b y about fifteen thousand people on the last two days of the Conference and Festival. Nearly 500 artists and members of fifty, cultural organisations from aU parts of Maharashtra parti­ cipated i n the Festival. Highlights of the festival were a new dance composed by Omar Sheikh, songs b y G i t a Roy, weU-known playback singer, a scene from a drama b y M a m a Warerkar, and a new Tamasha written b y Anna Bhau Sathe. Bombay


W i t h the formation of the Maharashtra Provincial Branch of I P T A , the Maharashtra section of the Bombay branch is now a part of the Maharashtra branch as one of its district sections. The remaining squads, performing i n various languages, had therefore to be re-organised. A general meeting of members of all these squads was held on January 21, presided over b y Anna B h a u Sathe. The meeting heard a report b y Niranjan Sen, General Secretary, on the coming All-India Conefrence, while M r . Govankar reported on the Samjukta Loka-Natya Sammelan. A co-ordinating Committee was set up to regulate the work­ ing of aU these squads under the All-India Committee until the All-India Conference takes place, when further decisions may be taken. Gujarat The fraternal delegates from Ahmedabad and Baroda i n the Conference met separately. Among others Jaswant Thakkar, a founder member of I P T A , attended. The discussion showed that though there is no centralised I P T A movement i n Gujarat, the activities of the Maharashtra, U r d u , Gujarati and Telugu Kalapathaks extend to Baroda also and cultural squads function at Surat. It was decided that aU squads be asked to send delegates and cultm-al troupes separately to the All-India Conference, pre­ parations for which are now being made, and that during the Conference the delegates from Gujarat would meet separately and form a centralised body.



Uttar Pradesh The Uttar Pradesh I P T A Provincial Conference was held on January 17 and 18 at the Gangadhar Memorial H a U i n L u c k ­ now. Nearly 100 delegates and visitors fi-om 16 districts parti­ cipated i n the Conference. The Presidium was made up of Messrs. Amrit L a i Nagar, Ustad U m a r Khan, Govind Sahay, M . L . A . , and Ashit Haldar, the former Principal of the Govemment A r t School at Lucknow. The Conference began with a delegates' session, at which the Organising Secretary placed a brief report narrating the growth of the I P T A movement i n Uttar Pradesh especiaUy during the last one year, when many new artists i n the field of drama, music, dance and folk-art joined the movement. T o some ex­ tent it has been possible to organise and consolidate the spon­ taneous cultural upsurge of the Province i n spite of the Government's repression since 1949. T h e n district reports were heard, which gave details of the work done. Later, members of the Presidium spoke on different aspects of the Peoples' Theatre movement, urging the building of a per­ manent stage i n the service of the people. They said literature and art were fast developing as the property of the people, which placed a great responsibility o n members of I P T A , and aU lovers of peoples' culture. The cultural programme was staged before a packed haU amidst great applause. Ustad Ismail K h a n of A g r a played the Sarengi, and Ustad U m a r K h a n the Sharode, while a working class squad from Kanpur presented the inspiring Birha, a popu­ lar folk-form of this province, and the Agra unit an one-act

drama, Paheli. O n the 18th i n the delegates' session a policy statement of the condition of art, culture and artists i n the Province i n particular, and i n India i n general, and formulating immediate tasks before peoples' artists, was adopted as well as an organisational re­ solution taking into consideration the present condition and future possibilities of I P T A i n the Province. Resolutions were passed on martyrs, who lost their lives i n defence of peoples' art, and on the late D r . Rashida Jehan. Other resolutions pledged the greatest efforts i n defence of peace, against the censorship and hated dramatic act of 1876, for abolition of entertainment tax on non-profit-making orga-



nisations, urging the prohibition of cheap films which slander the people. The cultural festival on the second day included a dancedrama, Saodagar, b y the Agra Unit, a harvest dance and a playlet written b y Mrs. Rezia Sajjad Zahfeer, b y the Lucknow unit. A new Provincial Committee was elected with M r . Amrit L a i Nagar as President, M r . Jnan Sharma, Mrs. Rezia Sajjad Zaheer, and M r . Gokul C h a n d Rastoque as Vice-Presidents, M r . Rajinder Singh as General Secretary and Shahib Sing Mehra, Babulal Verma and Mohan Upresti as Assistant Secretaries. T h e local Bengali C l u b and Lokayatan Sangeet Kala Kendra, helped to make this Conference a success. The Provincial Committee w i l l function from Agra. A ' O B S E R V E MARTYR'S D A Y — F E B R U A R Y ,

Unittf Reporter 27

Sushil Mukherjee and Bhavamadhab Ghosh, active members' of I P T A , were killed o n 27 February 1948, b y hired assassins at the reception given b y I P T A to the foreign delegates attend­ ing the South-East Asian Youth Conference i n Calcutta. Let us pay tribute to the memory of these martyrs, b y pledg­ ing to build a poweiful theatre movement i n the service of the people. Let the name of I P T A , for which they lived and died, be­ come the inspiration of our people's victory over suffering and death. Niranjan Sen General Secretary I7n%,„February 1953




the Censorship System Lower Entertainment Tax Build More Theatres

Opposition members tabled some resolution during the last session of the State Legislative Assembly for developing the theatre movement i n Bengal. Though these resolution were i n -



eluded i n the list for discussion, they were ultimately cancelled without being discussed, thanks to the present state of affairs in the Govemment. Although it is difficult to say what the fate of these resolu­ tions would have bfeen even i f they were discussed, yet the necessity remains of making fresh efforts. There are two sides of the theatre movement: one, the pro­ fessional stage, and the other, the innumerable amateur and semi-professional organisations. T h e top-ranking personalities of the professional stage always say that the crisis today is due to the lack of good drama and adequate finance. Yet they agree that the public would provide the finances needed, i f a good drama were staged. So the problem of getting a good drama becomes the major problem. A good drama always reflects a picture of the age and is a vehicle of the hopes and desires of the age. But the present rules of censoring plays and the way the Government puts these into practice are such that no dramatist or producer can hope to write or produce a drama befitting the present times. Sisir K u m a r Bhaduri, the most notable actor of Bengal, has expressed this view many times and had demanded a change i n the present censorship system. D u r i n g British rule, the scmtiny of dramas was i n the hand of the police. T h e Congress Govemment has maintained this system t i l l today. E v e n the principle of inclusion of artists, writers and critics i n the Board of F i l m Censors under pressure of the people i n the film industry is not applied i n the case of Bengali drama. That is not to say that the film censorship sys­ tem is i n any way ideal. However, the people of Bengal have the right to ask why the scrutiny of plays should be i n the hands of the Police, and to change this system. If this task is not ac­ complished, the development of drama i n the present age w i l l be difficult. But it is possible to organise a huge mass movement against this censorship system with th\0 help of the innumerable drama­ tic clubs in and around Calcutta. Everybody w i l l agree that to-day as i n the past, these amateur and semi-professional orga­ nisations are leading the Bengali stage along a new path. A l l the dramatists from Girish Chandra to Sisir Kumar were frona amateur drama groups and the intelligentsia recognise that the People's Theatre Association, Bahurapi,. Uttar Sarathi (Natun



Ihudi), etc., are carrying forward that tradition. So if these organisations make a united effort, they w i U have the support of the actors and dramatists of the professional stage. Withdraw the Entertainment Tax and the system of Corpo­ ration Tax charged for performances by amateurs and semiprofessionals. The League Ministry of undivided Bengal, realising the crisis affecting tlie Bengali stage, exempted professional stage institutions from payment of the entertainment tax. They d i d not however think of the amateur and semi-professional orga­ nisations, and the Congress Govemment is following the same policy today. A s a result efforts of the common people to stage plays are hampered. Before tickets can be sold for any dramatic perfor­ mance, a sum of nearly Rs. 200 has to be deposited vdth the Entertainment tax Office. Then there are the Corporation Tax and the rent of a professional stage ranging from Rs. 300 to Rs. 350 which also must be p a i d before staging the play. F o r just one performance Rs. 700 to Rs. 800 is needed for the hiring of stage and costumes and other expenses. H o w many organisa­ tions i n this poor country can afford to advance such amounts ? As a result, many efforts are nipped i n the b u d and many orga­ nisations are discouraged. Municipal

Halls are Needed

Then there is the problem of renting a stage cheaply. The owners argue that they cannot afford to reduce rents of the stage i n this period of crisis, since many of them have kept the professional stage alive only with the money they receive i n rents. There are many rich men's clubs, whose members, i n the name of staging a dramatic performance, like to dress up i n good clothes and get the applause of their relatives. W e do not'care how much they pay to rent a theati-e, but the many serious organisations of ordinary people cannot afford these high fees and therefore find theatre unavailable to them. That is why a demand must be raised for municipal theatre halls in Calcutta and moffxxsil. Such arrangements can be made i n the T o w n Halls of mofussil towns with the aid of Govem­ ment and the municipalities. T h e I.T.F. (Indian Territorial Force) Pavilion at the Maidan i n Calcutta is an example of a stage built at very low cost. If the West Bengal Govemment



co-operated, similar stages could be established elsewhere i n Calcutta. The l o w construction costs could be recovered within a year b y renting out the halls cheaply. As the Govemment makes crores of mpees annually from the Entertainment Tax charged on fihn shows and lakhs of mpees from the amateur theatre organisations, this demand of people of Bengal is justified. A broad unity can be built up among theatre organisations, drama lovers, writers, artists and the people, irrespective of political differences, i n support of these demands for ending the censorship system, lowering entertainment taxes, and buildmg municipal hahs. T h e problem before the artists is not only one of the flower­ ing of free art and culture, but also one of economical growth. There are many serrti-professional actors, dancers and musi­ cians i n different organisations who, to meet the crisis of stage and film, are trying to make a living b y staging performances directly before the people. F o r them the above demands are closely inter-linked with the fundamental demand for liveli­ hood. That is w h y all cultural organisations must make united effort to place these demands before the State Legislative Assembly and to w i n them. Sudhi Pradhan Unittj, March 1953



Mother b y M a x i m Gorky was successfully staged recently at the Minerva Theatre b y an amateur dramatic club of Behala. M o l i n a D e v i and Nitish Mukhopadhya, two of the greatest artistes of the professional stage, played the role of the Mother and the Little Russian respectively. This successful perfor­ mance was indeed a historic event i n the theatrical world of Bengal. Gorky's Mother is the symbol of universal motherhood. N o literary work has drawn as many readers towards the proletarian ideal as this great book of Gorky. W h e n some years ago, postRabindranath writers tumed to the Western decadent literature, the reading public of Bengal accorded a hearty reception to two



translations of Gorky's Mother, on by M r . Nripendra Krishna Chattopadhya and the other b y M r . Bimal Sen, which ran into several editions. A t a moment when the future of our freedom movement depends upon the proletarian leadership, the historic role of this di-ama cannot be over emphasised. N o doubt, the dramatic version has its weakness, and quite a good many of them. T o dramatise Mother is certainly much easier than to dramatise Notes from the Gallows, which was done by the Calcutta I P T A though not with desirable success, because the former as a novel itself contains story, dialogue and conflict which are essentially dramatic i n content But M r . Dwarikdas Gangopadhya, the dramatist, has not been able to twcn it fuHy to his advantage. The dialogue has not been lucid. The introduction, into the second scene itself, of the secret meeting of the Mother, Pavel and other members of the Social Democratic Party has kept from view the gradual tonsformation of Pavel's character. F r o m the point of view of the movement of the drama it should have been considered essential to show this transformation of the hero's character. F r o m the point of view of acting, with the exception of M o l i n a Devi, Nitish Mukhopadhya, Asha Devi, Gouri Bandopadhya, Ajoy Mukhopadhya (in the role of the Police Officer), Bhanu Roy (in the role of the doctor) and two others, the rest were disappointing. N i r m a l Roy's acting i n the role of Pavel, the cliief character, had been very weak and was only com­ pensated b y the incomparable acting of Molina D e v i and Nitish Mukhopadhya. T h e last scene of the novel shows the police throttling the Mother. O n the stage, the scene presnted the police mercilessly lashing the Mothr after throwing her down to the ground. This departure from the original novel had considerably damaged the incomparable dialogue and acting of the last scene. Scenes which ought to have been scenes of orderly assembl­ age of organised workers tended to become mob-scenes. The M a y D a y procession having been an orderly one, however, proved to be highly attractive. Those who came up on the stage as workers quickly changed their dress and appeared soon again as peasants. As a result, the picture of the typical Russian peasant which comes out in the novel failed to come out i n the drama. The two songs composed by Sunil D u t t were weak i n com-



position. But they were well sung and infiuenced the audience and also helped the movement of the drama. But i n spite of these defects on the first night of its staging, the total presentation of the drama, thanks speciaUy to the artistic skiU of M o l i n a D e v i and Nitish Mukhopadhya, made an indelible impression _ on our minds. W e had seen Nitish Mukho­ padhya i n several roles i n the past. But, his acting i n Mother specially i n Scenes I and V I I , his bold yet restrained utterance of the message of international brotherhood of the proletariat o n M a y D a y (Scene I X ) , the way i n which he played the role of a Bolshevik, steel-like i n the teeth of repression and yet tender with the dream of the future—all these indeed rendered his acting on this occasion superb. Molina D e v i is second to none i n the role of the patient, affec­ tionate, generous, but neglected mothers of Bengal. But on this day she not merely kept to her standard. B y means of highly emotional yet adroit acting she created on the stage of Bengal the tradition of a greater motherhood, the strugghng motherhood of the proletariat. Previously, some distinguished artistes of the professional stage, namely. Monoranjan Bhattacharya, the late Prova Devi, T u l s i Lahiri, K a l i Sarkar and others enriched the new drama­ tic movement outside the professional stage by joining it. B u t it was for the first time that Molina Devi, Nitish Mukhopadhya and Asha D e v i made their appearance on the amateur stage of Bengal, holding up the R e d Flag, the flag of proletarian kiel. O n behalf of tire democratic dramatic movement of Bengal, we offer our heartiest congratulations to them and also to Mayamancha. A t the same time we request this dramatic club to arrange shows of their drama i n the industrial areas i n the suburbs of Calcutta. Only then, w i l l their success receive its sanction. HEMANGO BISWAS Unity, April



The 7th A l l India I P T A conference w i l l be inaugurated i n Bombay on 6th A p r i l b y the great dancer U d a y Shankar. The 110 member Preparatory Committee is headed b y F i l m Director Bimal Roy as President, K . A . Abbas, Z i a Sarhady,



Prof. B . R. Deodhar, Phani Mazumdar and C . Kolhatkar, VicePresidents, and D . N . Gavankar, Secretary. Among the writers, artistes, musicians, journalists, and other members of the committee are such well-known names as D r . M u l k Raj Anand, Messrs Balraj Sahni, Narendra Sharma, Shyamlal, Ramesh Thapar, P. R. Lele, P. Jairaj, Saher L u d h i ­ anvi, A n i l Biswas, Chittoprasad, Mohan Saigal, Anna Bhau Sathe, Shankar Shailendra, Omar Shaikh, Prem Dhavan, Prof. N . R. Phatak and Mrs. Achala Sachdev.


(Draft for discussion in the Organisational of the 7th IPTA Conference)


T o realise the objective of developing I P T A as a national thriving organisation i n the service of the people, reaching the largest numbers i n the cities and vihages, the following orga­ nisational principles are suggested: 1. (a) T h e basis of developing I P T A w i l l be on linguistic States, according to their cultural traditions, forms and objective conditions prevailing. W e shall accept the present existing State boundaries for all practical purposes till the just demands of the people for the creation of linguistic States are met with. (b) Branches i n the disputed areas have to settle their posi­ tion through mutual discussion among the members concerned, keeping i n view the objective of unification and healthy dev­ elopment of their Branches, taking care not to apply it mecha­ nically. (c) The Squad or Unit among the minority section i n a State w i l l function under that particular State branch with a full right and guarantee of its working i n its own language and cultural language branch for dramas, etc. through the Centre or directly. 2. All-India



(a) T h e functions of the AU-India Executive Committee wiU be: (i) to co-ordinate different branches ; (ii) to exchange discussions, problems, achievements, reports and creative materials ;



(iii) to organise inter-state exchange of cuhural troupes or individual artists; (iv) to initiate movements on aU-India or internationally significant issues arising at diiferent times; (v) to guide on common problems arising out of the movement i n different states ; (vi) to take the lead i n building and developing branches of I P T A vi'here they do not exist or where they are weak with the help of the neighbouring branch (vii) to keep contact with the progressive cultural move­ ments i n the other parts of the w o r l d ; (viii) to run UNITY, the oflBcial organ, and to bring out publications i f necessary (mainly history of I P T A ) ; (ix) to convene AU-India Executive meetings at least thrice i n two years and an All-India Conference once i n two years; (x) to place audited All-India accounts at the Conference. The development of the I P T A movement from now on w i l l depend on the State branches on which depends the strength of the Central Executive, primarily functioning as a co-ordinating and exchange body. (b) T h e Central Executive w i l l consist of the following office­ bearers : (i) One President, five or less Vice-Presidents, one General Secretary, four Joint Secretaries to function as the A l l India Organisers for four zones and one Treasurer. A l l the above office-bearers are to be elected by the delegates present at the Conference. The All-India Executive w i l l further consist of a maximum of two members from each State Branch elected b y the dele­ gates from that particular State, present at the Conference. (ii) T h e All-India Secretariat consisting of President, Vice-Presidents (if possible), General Secretary, Joint Secretaries and Treasurer should meet twice a year to check up and implement the AU-India Executive's decisions. (iii) The Office Secretariat, consisting of General Secretary,



Office Secretary (elected b y the Executive Com­ mittee) and all members on the All-India body from the place where the office w i l l be situated, should carry forward day-to-day work. 3.

Broad tasks and principles for State Branches-.

(a) (i) Units are to be built up primarily on the basis of localities urban and rural, drawing members, organi' sations and afBliating cultural organisations primarily from that particular locality. These local Branches wiU have within their fold a number of squads either on different art forms or among different sections. The minimum number for the membership of the Squads, and minimum number of squads for a Branch i n a locality are to be fixed up by the State Branches ac­ cording to the objective conditions there. (ii) These primary Units w i l l form higher Branches from C i t y , District, Sub-division upto the State Branch, having the respective committees elected at General Body meetings and Conferences as the case may be. to carry forward the principles of the I P T A move­ ment. (iii) A central troupe on State or even on district plane (if possible) should be formed to expand, popularise and raise the artistic level. (b) (i) T o stress on the federal character of the organisation, guaranteeing sufficient rights to the affiliated organi­ sations, so that confidence is created i n the affiliated bodies. (ii) A n y cultural organisation willing to affiliate should do so with the nearest I P T A Branch. But any orga­ nisation i n a State, where no I P T A Branch unit exists should directly affiliate with the all-India body. (iii) T o organise simultaneously joint shows, discussions, etc. with those organisations which are not yet ready to affiliate with I P T A , to create a favourable atmos­ phere dispeUing any misunderstanding or distrust i n the process. This part of the constitution of the State Branches must be



formulated after thorougli discussion so that the federal charac­ ter part of the organisation can play its role. (c) (i) T o call Conventions i n those areas immediately where a Central Organisation does not exist, co-ordinating and consolidating the disintegrated gi'oups. (ii) Before holding the State Conferences; Music con­ ferences. D r a m a festivals, Dance festivals of cultural organisations and individual artistes (IPTA and others) from rural and urban areas must be held i n every State under the intiative of I P T A . These festivals must re­ flect the classical, modem and folk forms. (ui) T o avoid shoddy productions and to stage well-rehears- • ed and polished productions. (iv) T o revive and revitalise the traditions of the Indian stage, (specially rural) developing those i n the modern hght. (d) (i) T o conduct classes, ti-aining camps, etc., to educate members on I P T A ideology, organisation and artistic creation and to develop and encourage healthy and constructive criticism. (ii) T o take the initiative to launch united movements on different demands of the cultural workers. (iii) T o ensure complete democratic functioning i n taking day-to-day decisions, i n m n n i n g the committees and in selecting dramas and songs, etc. (iv) T o produce audited accounts b y the State Branches annually. 4. The


(a) (i) The present All-India Constitution should be revised and redrafted on the basis of the above principles by the new AU-India Executive and circulated to the State Branches within two montlis. The next AU-India Executive meeting should finalise the Constitution on the basis of recommendations from State Branches. (ii) This adopted Constitution w i l l be binding till the next AU-India Conference, where it should be finally adopt­ ed emiching it with the experiences gained during the interim period.



(iii) T h e basic principles and rules finally adopted i n this Conference w i U be binding till the AU-India Consti­ tution is finalised i n the AU-India Committee meeting mentioned i n (i). (b) (i) T h e States have to work out their o w n Constitutions according to their conditions, on fhe basis of the main principles and rules adopted i n this Conference. This must be ready for the first AU-India Committee meeting. (ii) State Constitutions must be adopted i n the State C o n ­ ferences after having been circulated and discussed by the entire membership, and sanctioned b y the All-India Committee. Unity, April



H i s address to a group of young actors who entered the Moscow A r t Theatre i n the autumn of 1924 reveals the characteristic earnestness with which he approached his work. ' T h e traditions of the A r t Theatre proceed from the tradi­ tions of Shchepkin and Gogol. "Gogol saw i n the theatre an institution capable of guiding people i n their spiritual quests, of inculcating the highest prin­ ciples of morality and ethics. H e faced the theatre with tasks of a social character; with the task of educating society b y speaking the message of the dramatist from the stage, rein­ forced b y artistic presentation and scenic action. "FoUowing the precepts of Gogol, the A r t Theatre has pledged itself wholely to the service of the society. Shchepkin demanded that Gogol's precepts be expressed on the stage i n realistic art forms. H e himself was one of the greatest of realistic artists. H e rejected aU conventions having no foundation i n life itself. H e demanded that the actor know hfe, and that his work on the stage be the fullest possible re­ flection of hfe, the very embodiment of life i n scenic forms. "FoUowing the precepts of Shchepkin, the A r t Theatre de­ mands that the actor reveal a living personality, complex in character and behaviour. " B y entering the A r t "Theatre, you dedicate your entire lives; 10




t o carrying out the precepts of these great men of the Russian stage. "DifBcult as it may be, they are to be carried out during every day, every hour of your work inside and outside of the theatre, every hour of your work inside and outside of the theatre, every hour of your life. . . .It is not when you sit down at your dressing table to be made up, or when you stand i n the wings waiting for your cue, that your life i n the theatre begins. It begins when you wake up i n the morning and ask yourself what you must accomplish that day i n order to w i n the right to enter the theatre with a clean conscience, be it for a rehearsal, a lesson, or a performance. . . .From today on the theatre is your' life, a life completely devoted to one purpose: the creation of beautiful works of art to ennoble and elevate the soul of man, cultivating i n him the great ideals of freedom, justice, love of country and countrymen." This statement b y the great master may be considered the cornerstone of his "system", the foundation of aU his work as the teacher and stage manager. A t the same time that he affirmed the actor's primacy on the stage, Stanislavsky attributed th© greatest importance to drama­ turgy, as the soil from which the theatre's creative work springs. ^'Our collective efforts begin with the play," said he. "Without that, the actor and producer have nothing to do." A failure to appreciate the importance of the play "gives art a false and superficial slant." Stanislavsky w e l l knew how essential to ac­ tor, producer, and audience alike, was a play "reflecting the life and the inner experience of the contemporary man." A n d so he placed the names of Actor and Playwright side b y side and spelled them both w i t h capital letters. A whole chapter of Gorchakov's book is devoted to Stanislavasky's work with play-wiights. It concludes with the following words of the great master. . "Keep ever i n m i n d that it is not the glitter of lights, the gla­ mour of elaborate costume and setting, the originality of miseenscenes that keeps the theatre alive. It is the ideas of the play­ wright. Nothing can hide a lack of ideas not the most ingenious stage trumpery. L e t the theatre ever remain for you the most sacred concept of your life, and you wfll never be tempted to dress it up i n velvet and brocade. . . .If only we could pass this on to our sucessors ! . . ."



K n o w life ! That is a basic demand of the Stanislavsky sys­ tem and the master's most essential precept. A n d it is this idea, so fundamental and characteristic, that Gorchakov stresses i n the chapter caUed "First Encounters," recording his early talks with Stanislavsky. I n discussing the work of a formalistic pro­ ducer who was enjoying great popularity at that time, Stanisla­ vsky said: "Where is he leading the theatre? What does he teach ? Nihihsm i n art, so far as I can see. A n d that is sheer poison for yotmg minds. His method of staging does not stem from a knowledge of life, of the laws of nature and human psy­ chology, but from a false, narrow, 'theatrical' concept of the drama. F o r me and for those who taught me-Fedotova, Yermolova, Lensky-the drama always stemmed from life. . . M . does not live hfe. H e remains uiraioved b y the fate of fhe Russian theatre. A s for me, I cannot separate the ideas of Shchepkin, Gogol, Ostrovsky, and Chekhov from our contemporary hfe. . .1 too am for a l l that is new, vivid, daring; but .first of a l l I am for reahsm. W e must leam from life and nature, and not from tricksters." V . Smimova Vmty, April '53


The article Three D E M A N D S O F T H E T H E A T R E M O V E ­ M E N T which appeared i n the March, 1953 issue of UNITY was translated from an article written b y Shri Sudhi Pradhan and published editorially b y the Bengali monthly joumal the THEATRE. Unittf, April 1953


Delegates and visitors, nearly six hundred of them from all over India, met at the 7th AU-India I F T A Conference at Bom­ bay, with great hopes as weU as doubts, with multiple problems and questions crying out for immediate solutions, with a tre­ mendous amount of living experience especially of the last five years that had elapsed since the 6th Conference.




Ten years ago, i n 1943, when I P T A came into existence, it was a crucial phase of human histoiy. T h e fascist hordes were battering at the gates of civilisation. Humanity was i n peril. I P T A was b o m of the anti-fascist national straggle, of the.blood, hunger and tears of the Bengal Famine, the cursed offspring of the Second W o r l d war. T e n years later we met again i n another cmcial hour of his­ tory. T h e blood-thirsty ghouls of the Second W o r l d W a r , the Atomaniacs have already started spilhng innocent blood i n Korea and other Asian cotmtries, threatening to engulf the world i n T h i r d W o r l d W a r . T h e deepening econonaic crisis bringing i n its wake hunger and starvation for miUiqns of our people is. also hitting the artist hard, resulting, as the Manifesto declares, iin the closing down of professional and non-professional theatres and the unemployment of thousands of artists. N o t only the economic but also the increasing cultural penetration of the ' warmongers threatens our national life and attempts, to vulgarise our art and literature with ideas of violence and mm-der. But 1953 is not 1943. This time a new force, a mighty force has been released by the W o r l d Peace Movement. Today the forces of Peace are far stronger than the forces of War. In the colonial and-dependent countries all sections of the people are joining the battle against imperiahsm. I n India today we wit­ ness a stupendous growth of united mass movement for bread, peace, democracy and national sovereignty. Along with that is . taking place a spontaneous cultural upsurge throughout our country, breaking down all artificial barriers between art and the people. This has also shaken up the present organisational framework of I P T A itself. It is against this background that the delegates met to ex­ change experiences, to discuss and thrash out vital problems, to end the anomalous position of rapid spontaneous growth on the one hand and the lack of a unified policy and organisational principles on an All-India plane, on the other. Not only the delegates and visitors but also the people i n general and the art world i n particular eagerly looked forward to this Conference, expecting I P T A to come out w i t h a broadbased policy as the inspirer, unifier and guide of all artists i n the service of the people. T h e Conference has not belied these hopes. T h e character of the delegations, the natiure of participation, the deliberations.



the Manifesto, the Charter of Demands, the organisational reso­ lution, all point to that. T i l l the other day many important provinces remained outside the precincts of I P T A . This Conference saw those provinces, namely Orissa, Kerala, Tamilnad, etc., as serious participants. Another distinctive feature was the participation of Theatre and Art Groups which are still outside I P T A and not afBliated to it. The infusion of new elements from the fighting working class and peasantry as in the Gujarat and Kerala delegations was another important feature. U p t i l now I P T A had no organic link with the professional world, which wields an enormous influence on people's minds. In this Conference the wall was broken dovra; many of the stalwarts of filmland were seen as active participants and some of them have been elected to the AU-India Committee. Thus the very nature of participation signifies the role history has assigned to I P T A . The reports from the provincial delegations on their specific problems, the Commission meetings grappling with many issues facing the stage, screen and music, the exhaustive discussions in delegate sessions and the informal exchange of views outside, all combined to forge out a unified Manifesto, the bedrock on which the new edifice of I P T A w i l l be constructed. F o r the first time i n our history we have been able to work out a mom­ entous document that lays down the basic principles on which the broadest sections of cultural workers can be mobilised i n our stiuggle for a peaceful and prosperous life. The second most significant thing is the Il-point Charter of Demands which provides the common platform on which all artists can be immediately unified for realising the essential facUities for an unfettered growth of our culture. The next important thing is the acceptance of the principle of federation i n oiu- organisation, which w i l l ensure fullest de­ mocracy and guarantee full freedom of each linguistic group for the development of its national genius. The cultural items presented on the stage of the Conference truly mirrored the present condition of IPTA—its weakness as well as its strength, its failure as well as its proihise. W h i l e ennumerating our achievements, we must acknowledge our shortcomings too, so clearly revealed through the reports of the diiferent provinces and so correctiy reflected on the stage, our ultimate testing ground. In the serious appraisal of these and i n



the implementation o£ the Manifesto and other resolutions of the Conference lies our future. Let us not be sweU-headed but respect aU other artists, pro­ fessional and non-professional, and extend our hand to them to build the broadest united movement for people's culture. Let us love and respect our glorious heritage and learn from i t L e t us perfect the forms and be masters i n our craft. Let us bear i n mind the growing hunger of our people for songs and dramas that express their deepest aspirations and our lamentable lag i n satisfying it. Let us not forget that we have not as yet driven om* roots deep into the toihng masses, the fountain-head of aU artistic production. Let us take the vow to be worthy of the great and honourable title, "the People's Artist". Let the voice of the Indian people ring out i n our grandest creations. Long Live Indian Peoples Theatre Association ! Long Live Peoples Culture \ Unity, May-June




(Draft outline for the Manifesto of the Indian People's Theatre Association, circulated by the A l l India Secretariat for discussion at the 7th I P T A Con­ ference this month at Bombay.)

I P T A expresses its solidarity with the people i n their struggle for peace, civil liberties, better living conditions, and a fuller life. It w i l l portray these through artistic creations. I P T A i n its work respects the rich cultural heritage-carrying forward its democratic and healthy elements giving expression to the aspirations of the people. I P T A stands for full and equal opportunity for the develop­ ment of all national languages and cultures i n the country and i n its work tries to develop the national forms i n the theatre arts in a popular way. I P T A strives for the developing of a healthy theatre arts tra­ dition to fight the pernicious influence of harmful and outmoded ideologies and of comics, pornographic literature, art and such films as distort and evade reality. IPTA'S activities are confined to the field of the theatre arts



and in all its work strive to achieve the highest standards of production. I P T A must develop the closest links with the progressive cul­ tural movement of the world. It must further develop closest links with writers- here, for only this can ensure regular flow of plays and songs. I P T A must develop united movements to remove all the impe­ diments i n the way of theatre arts i n this country and strive for better theatre facilities, for abolishing of censorship and of entertainment tax on productions by amateur and non-profit making organisations. I P T A appeals to aU theatre artistes, organisations and writers, who beheve that art must be an expression of the peoples' aspira­ tions, to co-operate -with it i n its efforts to create a national and thriving people's theatre i n the service of the people. Unity, April



Conference decisions MANIFESTO

W e writers and artistes, singers and dancers, painters and musicians, and technicians of the stage and screen dedicate ourselves anew at this Seventh AU-India Conference of the Indian People's Theatre Association, to the creation of an art portiaying the lives, stiuggles and dreams of our great peoples, and their striving for peace, democracy and liberation from aU forms of injustice. W e dedicate ourselves to the singing of their joys and sor­ rows, to inspiring them with a rich vision of reality, to w i n a peaceful and prosperous life and its expression, so that cultural starvation may be ended in this rich land whose beauty and natural resources are ours. W e meet at a time when people are being led to think of material progress in terms of war, conquest and the subjuga­ tion of weaker peoples. This is a grave danger to our people, our culture and our theatre. Attempts are being made to vulga­ rise our art and literature with ideas of violence and murder, which condition people for war and for loot, arson and crime. This Association calls upon aU lovers of culture to unite to defend art from such attacks, and to make their songs and




dances ring with the message of peace and friendship for all countries and nations. In the present deepening economic deterioration of our people we find that artistes i n the cities as well as i n the countryside, and theatres all over the country, caii barely manage to keep alive. Costs of produtcion and the soaring prices of all the equipment needed on the stage are resulting i n the closing down of professional and non-professional theatres. Thousands of artistes and theatre workers are unemployed. W e pledge that we shall fight constantly to improve the living conditions of writers, artistes and technicians, so that our arts may flourish. W e shall seek inspiration from the epics and great dramas of the past and strive for a high standard of production, absorbing the experience of arts of advanced countries. W e shall insist on perfection of form and the proper fusing of form and content. W h i l e recognising the contribution which the peoples of tribal areas have made to our culture, we shall seek to develop these cultures and maintain the strength and vigour of their forms. Born as our Association was out of the liberation movement during the Second W o r l d War, we stand firmly against all i n ­ justice and oppression wherever it may occur and i n whatever subtle manner it may manifest itseh. W e denounce all attempts to repress or suppress the dreams and aspirations of our people, all laws which try to chain the minds of men to the dying order or decadent values. W e demand that all the various nationalities of India be given every facility to develop their own languages and cul­ tures, their own stage, folk art and literature, and we declare that the best vehicles of expression for each nationality are its o w n national forms i n its own language. W e shall fight all attempts at national exclusiveness and national superiority and the imposing on any people of a language other than its mother tongue. W e denounce aU outmoded ideas which are intended to blind the peoples to social realities or set brother against brother. W e are opposed to communalists, preachers of racial animosity and all who attempt to perpetuate caste differences. W e stand against blind superstition and fear. W e believe in the power of M a n to mould life nearer his heart's desire. The writers and artistes of India are today called on to carry forward the tremendous heritage of our land. Just as our



greatest poets, singers, dancers and musicians have always ex­ pressed the deepest aspirations of our peoples, we urge our present-day writers and artists to study closely the changing life of the people, their old and new art forms, their personal and collective tragedies and triumphs. Experience shows that parti­ cipation i n the life of the people helps to resolve artij5cial con­ flicts between form and content, and leaves no room for that poverty of material and ideas that, results i n formahsm. A r t born out of the,deep identity of the consciousness of the artist Svith reality, out of a great vision of an artist, carries with it its own distinctive ^form. W e hold with Bharat Natya Shastra, the oldest work on Indian dramaturgy, that the theatre arts are coUective arts that require the co-operation of many. Proof of this has been provid­ ed by the great works of art which have been handed down to us from ancient times. A r t and culture, songs and dances, dramas and poems, are of the flesh and blood of our people, their companions i n famine and plenty, i n periods of devastation, war and peace. The people of India are looking to their writers and artistes to give them new, profound and inspiring works of art. W e note with gratitude and appreciation the valuable work being done b y professional and non-professional organisations all over the country, i n developing the Indian theatre i n the face of aU obstacles. W e hold out to them our hand of friend­ ship and urge them to co-operate with us i n building up a real people's theatre movement. T o all lovers of culture, to all who wish to see the growth of a healthy Indian tradition and its development i n ever richer and newer forms, to all who wish to see our peoples free from poverty and hunger, prosperous and happy, we address this call today: Join with us i n creating and developing a people's culture ! L e t the voice of the Indian peoples ring out into its grandest songs! I. P. T. A. Mourns Stalin The Seventh Conference of the Indian People's Theatre Association, records its • sense of sorrow at the demise of J. V . Stalin, Premier and beloved leader of the Soviet Peoples and one of the strongest pillars of Peace.





This Seventh All-India Conference of the Indian PeoplesTheatre Association demands: (a) The abohtion of entertainment tax on all theatre organi­ sation whether professional or non-professional; (b) The removal of the present system of pre-censorship and the ending of the present position where the police decide the worth of dramas and songs ; (c) That Municipahties and other select bodies b u i l d M u n i ­ cipal and/or open air theatres; (d) That no discrimination be made b y the AU-India Radio^ against artistes of the People's Theatre movement, as has^ happened several times i n the recent past; (e) That the Government of India maintain an impartial attitude i n granting exhibition rights to foreign films, b u t that the screening of sexy and gangster films, and those which incite people to war and to racial hatred be prohi­ bited; (f) That no impediments be placed on the free travel o f people from one country to another; (g) That the Government of India take immediate steps to grant subsidies to theatre organisations and take measures so that public stages are not converted into cinema theatres. (h) That the Government of India withdraw the ban imposed on Government servants from becoming members o f I P T A , and their participation in I P T A functions. (i) That the Government of India make exclusive grants to Universities and other similar institutions to open chairs for graduate and post-graduate studies i n histrionics and music, and ask Universities to open drama academies i n degree and diploma courses. (]•) That a commission of non-official and competent persons be appointed to enquire into the living conditions of theatre workers, technicians and artistes. (k) That the Central and State Governments should set apart at least 20% of their budgetary provisions for expenditure on education and culture; and such amounts should be spent on the specific advice of bona-fide educational and cultural bodies.





at the 7th All-India Conference

of the


Peace This Seventh All-India. Conference of the Indian People's Theatre Association pledges that it w i l l work always to cham­ pion the cause of world peace and friendship of all nations, and to co-operate i n every way with the world peace movement. •Cultural Exchange W e send our warmest greetings to our brother writers, artistes, cultural workers and lovers of culture i n Pakistan and other countries. W e thank them for their kind message of greetings to our Seventh AU-India Conference. This Conference calls for the greatest possible cultural ex­ changes between aU countries of the world. W e urge our Government to do all i n its power towards this end and to remove all impediments i n the way of such exchanges. Dramatic Performances A c t of 1876 This Conference condemns i n the strongest terms the reenactment three years ago of the Dramatic Performances Act of 1876 by the Government of India. W e demand that this Act, which was created by the foreign rulers of our country to crush the Indian national freedom move­ ment, be immediately withdrawn. W e demand the instant re­ moval of these "handcuffs on the culture of India" as the Act was rightly described in the year of its promulgation. Sangeet Natak Academy W e welcome the formation by the Government of India of the Sangeet Natak Akademy. W e urge and caU upon the Alcademy to co-opt a representative of the progressive theatre organisa­ tions in the Council of Management. Ban on Drama in Kerala W e condemn the action of the Travancore-Cochin State Government withdrawing the permission to stage "You M a d e M e a Communist", which .had been passed by the censor autho­ rities. W e demand the immediate withdrawal of the order.




of Creative



This Seventh Ah-India I P T A Conference declares firm faith in freedom of creative expression and shall strive to ensure for writers and artistes i n the People's Theatre, fullest freedom of self-expression without any mechanical restraint, at the same time providing for free, fraternal criticism of each others work with a view to development of our respective creations i n the best interests of the People's Theatre and the people. Organisation This Seventh All-India Conference of the Indian People's Theatre Association, resolves that the present constitution of the Organisation be amended i n order to implement the principles stated i n the Manifesto adopted at the Conference. It is resolved that i n view of the new conditions i n which the I P T A w i l l be working, the organisation w i l l develop on the basis of hnguistic areas. The All-India People's Theatre Associa­ tion w i l l be a federal body with linguistic area units. Further the Seventh AU-India I P T A Conference authorises the new AU-India Executive Committee to nominate a com­ mittee of three members to redraft the Constitution. U n t i l the new Constitution comes into effect, the present Constitution w i l l operate in the light of this resolution. Funds The audited accounts of the AU-India Organisation are hereby adopted and it is resolved that all the Units of I P T A must publish their audited accounts within three months. It is resolved that all I P T A units should pay affihation fees.



in the Life of the


On the evening of 6th AprU, in the presence of about 10,000 people, including 600 delegates and visitors from all over India, the Seventh AU-India Conference of I.P.T.A. was inaugurated. The melodious tune of Shanai and the bold call of fhe typical Maharashtrian horn rang out from the gate of the huge open-air pandal i n the compound of D'Silva H i g h School as thousands



of people speaking many tongues flocked i n to take tiieir places. Renowned artists, Chittaprasad, M o n i Roy Chowdhury and Samar Das Gupta, gave finishing touches to the beautiful deco­ rations of the pandal and stage. Backstage, the musicians tuned their instruments and artistes who would take part i n the open­ ing programme made their final preparations. In this atmosphere of light and music, the velvet curtain went up on the Bombay I.P.T.A. Squad singing a song of wel­ come. A U eyes were focussed on the huge stage with its blue silken backdrop, simply but beautifuUy decorated b y Chitta­ prasad, with the symbol of I.P.T.A. at the centre. FoUowing the welcome address by Producer-Director Bimal Roy, Chairman of the Reception Committee, the great dancer Uday Shankar declared the Conference open amidst tremen­ dous applause. Sachin Sen Gupta, weUknown dramatist of Bengal, Chiritamanrao Kolhatkar, veteran producer' and director of the Maharashtrian stage. Prof. A b d u l Mahk, literateur and composer of Assam, writer K . A . Abbas, film director Phani Mazumdar and Smt. Surinder Kaur, the famous Punjabi singer, took their places on the dais as members of the Presidium. Anna Bhau Sathe, the out-going President of I.P.T.A., then read out his report i n Marathi, in which he traced the history of the struggle between the growing peoples' culture and the attempts by the peoples' enemies to destroy this culture i n diiferent periods. H e concluded by expressing his confidence that the peoples' artists would defend the great culture of our land and carry it forvi^ard i n the sei-vice of the people. The veteran trade union leader, S r i N . M . Joshi, who had been I.P.T.A.'s first President, greeted the Conference. "I hope that the aims of I.P.T.A. to portray the sorrows, hopes and sufferings of the people and their joys w i l l be fulfilled", he said. Responding to the persistent demand from the audience that he should say something, U d a y Shankar then described in a short speech the difficulties and problems that face him and his troupe as professional artists, and some of his experiences during his tour of U.S.A., Germany, U.S.S.R. and other countries. Absence of Government help prevented him from serving the people with his dances and forced him to undertake repeated tours to Europe and America, he said. Though the people paid him to their utmost, costs were so high that it was impossible to go on without foreign tours. Though the speech expressed




his deep frustiation i n the face of present day economic di£Bculties, Uday Shankar ended with expressing the hope and con­ fidence that as an artist he would be able to fulfil his duty honestly and sincerely, and appealed to the people to help h i m to do this, while assuring full help and co-operation to I.P.T.A. Following a Tagore song b y Hemanta Mukherjee, the Con­ ference was greeted by Sachin Sen Gupta, member of fhe Presi­ dium. N o art can flourish i f it is not developed out of the emotions and sentiments of the people, he said. Artists of I.P.T.A. had realised that, and were stiiving hard to rejuvenate all forms of folk arts, to bring forward folk singers and indige­ nous folk insb-uments. H e declared that as a writer for the commercial stage he had realised that by loving the people and the theatre, we can become better artists and can come together. H e concluded with the words: "If you want to give the people an art which is not for them you wiU not succeed. If it be for them, it w i l l definitely flourish. You must be one of the people and live by them. M a y you have courage, self-sacrifice and vigour to achieve your goal." Special interest was aroused by the presence of Herbert Marshall, one of the founders of the Unity Theatie i n England and noted stage and film director. Giving some of his impres­ sions of Indian films and stage, hC offered his help i n any capa­ city for building a genuine people's theatre organisation. The inaugural session concluded w i t h a resolution of homage to I P T A martyrs, a song to martyrs by Mantu Ghosh of the Bengal delegation and a Welcome Song by Anna Bhau Sathe sung by the Maharashtia Squad. Delegate


F r o m A p r i l 7 to 12, the delegates and visitors met every afternoon to discuss their problems, to prepare the Manifesto and Charter of Demands and to work-out concrete steps for further work i n the field of drama, music and films. After hearing reports of the General Secretary and of repre sentatives from 18 provincial delegations, the delegates elected a Steering Committee to conduct further sessions and a Drafting Committee to prepare the Manifesto and resolutions. The Music Commission, which was presided over by the famous music director. A n i l Biswas, saw some lively discussion and controversy on the use of folk and classical Indian forms


and the introduction of modern forms I P T A ' s role i n the training of new A m o n g those who participated were dhm-y, Hemango Biswas, Surinder Dhawan and many other wehknown


taken from western music. talent was also discussed. Omar Sheikh, Salil ChowKaur, Sreenivasan, Prem singers and composers.

In the Drama Commission, papers were read out on the liistory of stage tradition i n different provinces and the achieve­ ments and failures of I P T A . Problems of obtaining new dramas on contemporary themes and presenting them i n a manner suit­ able for city and village audiences alike, were also discussed. W h o should be the hero and tire viUain of an I P T A play, how to •develop traditional folk forms to suit today's needs, the need for greater attention to stagecraft and technique—all these questions also came up. This Commission, the largest of the three, was presided over by Govind Chakravarty from Bengal. Sachin Sen Gupta. Tulsi Lahiri, Anna Bhau Sathe, Rajinder Singh, Balwant Gargi, Snehalata Sanyal and many others with varied experierices as playwrights, directors, actors, etc. took part in the discussions or read papers. In the F i l m Commission, discussions were restricted to the general problems i n producing healthy and reahstic films for the people and did not deal with the role of I P T A members and other progressive artists i n the film industry, as seen from the films already produced. Ritwik Ghatak, Balraj Sahni, O m Sagar, Shova Sen and Herbert Marshall were among those who took part. A l l three Commissions presented their conclusions to the Delegates' Session i n the form of recommendations for future work of I P T A . The discussions i n the Commissions helped the Drafting Committee to make the Manifesto more objective. During tlie last two days, the Manifesto, Charter of Demands and other resolutions were discussed i n the Delegates' Sessions and after some ammendments, adopted unanimously amid great enthusiasm. D a v i d Cohen, Unity Editor, placed a report on the magazine and appealed to I P T A units and members to really make it their own journal by collecting and contributing mate­ rials for it and by helping to increase and stabilise its sales. In the closing session, the delegates unanimously elected new office bearers of the Executive Committee to carry out the decisions of the Conference i n the coming year.




Among those who greeted the Conference or spoke on various resolutions during the Delegates' Sessions were Bengali play Wright Tulsi L a h i r i and F i l m Director Subramanyam of Madras. Bengali writer Rabiuddin Ahmed spoke about the cultural move­ ment i n East Pakistan, w;hile K . A . Abbas, i n an interesting speech, described his experiences about the theatre i n N e w China. Tremendous applause greeted a message which he read out from the artistes and writers of People's China to the peo­ ple's artistes and w i t e r s of India. The


Every evening throughout the seven days, I F T A branches from different provinces staged ballet, folk and classical dances, songs and plays before large audiences. The whole pandal hummed with songs i n various languages, the sound of dancing feet and voices rehearsing plays, as from morning to mid-day the different squads rehearsed their items, on the stage, i n the green room and in different corners of the pandal, or artistes from one province tried to learn the songs from another, i n order to take them back to their own people. It is not possible here to give an item by item description of the Festival programme which stretched over 40 hours with over 2C0 artists participating. Outstanding among over a dozen plays were D e l h i A r t Theatre's operetta Call of the Valley, Dalil a drama from Bengal, and a tamasha on unemployment by Anna Bhau Sathe staged by the Maharashtra squad. The dance items included classical styles like Bharat Natyam and Kathak as well as folk dances from Assam, Maharashtra and other places. The powerful tribal dances of the W a r h people and Manipuri and Naga dances presented by very young artists who had to travel for over six days to reach Bombay, proved very popular. Dances by D . K . Roy of Uttar Pradesh and classical dances by Miss Indryani and Rajmani charmed the audience. There were a number of good songs from different provinces. The beautiful folk melodies by Romen Barua of Assam and the voices of Sulochana and George, a worker, from Kerala, moved the audience, while Nirmal Chowdhury with his songs in the folk tunes of East Bengal was the main attraction and in great demand. W e could show some very good, educative and inspiring items but there were also others which could not impress the audience,



lacking as they d i d any vitality or technical perfection. Thus the stage being the mirror of the I P T A movement, showed up our weaknesses such as insufficient contact with the people and iusufficient attention to technical skill and stagecraft. It carried concrete ihustrations of our shortcomings which had been dis­ cussed during the commissions and made us conscious of our immediate tasks i n overcoming them. O n the closing night, after F i l m Director Hemen Gupta had presented the two Peace Prizes to D e l h i and Bengal, the C o n ­ ference concluded with a grand chrous i n which members from many different provinces joined. Thus ended the Seventh A l l India Conference after adopting a Manifesto, new organisational principles and a Charter of Demands which w i l l guide I P T A to develop into a national organisation i n the service of the people, creating new artistic productions of a high standard representing people's hves. Niranjan Sen Unity, May-June DEVELOP THEATRE




of the Drama Commission, Conference



W e have discussed the various issues raised by the delegates at Seventh Conference of I P T A , during the deliberations of its Commission on Drama, and have arrived at the fohowing conclusions: The primary function of I P T A is to develop Theatre Arts i n this country. Drama being the main component of these arts, it must concentrate on the development of Drama by enhsting the co-operation of playwrights i n its work, by a creative inter­ pretation of classical plays, by carrying forward the democratic elements i n our culture and by fostering the growth of a truly contemporary drama, which reflects the life and struggles of the people for a freer and fuUer hfe. I P T A beheves that dramatic arts by their very nature, cannot dispense with social content. I n the present conditions of life, the only vahd social content is that which is on the side of social progress and is an incentive to social transformation to achieve greater economic and social justice for our people. 11




Such a dramatic art cannot be confiued to one kind of play. It has room for tragedy as well as comedy, for tears as w e h as laughter. N o t only must greater attention be p a i d to full length plays with social significance, but everything possible must also be done to develop the many folk forms of drama, which have been evolved by our people through the centuries to express their sorrows and joys. T h e Commission feels that the tendency that stage craft (decor, hghts, costumes, etc.) are not necessary for village plays, is wrong and everything possible must be done to develop the existing village stage. This process w i l l help to bridge the gulf between the village and the town. Attention must also be paid to those forms which thrive on satire which is i n some ways the most effective weapon to ex^ pose the injustices, foUies and contradictions of a social system based on greed and suppression of people's rights and culture. A U healthy entertainments, which i n no way debase the taste of the people and treat sex and crime i n an antisocial way, must be encouraged. The I P T A i n its dramatic works, while always keen to imbibe healthy influences from abroad, must strive to see that its work is rooted i n the national tradition. A l l cosmo­ politan tendencies, which have no relevance to our living con­ ditions and social struggles, must be opposed. W e shaU strive, to develop the specific culture of our various nationalities. The writers for I P T A must have intimate contact with the people and should deal with only those themes with which they are familiar. Basing dramatic works on preconceived ideas and slogans without an intimate knowledge of the life with which they deal, can only distort reality. A question has been raised, as to who shaU be the hero and who shaU be the villain of our plays. F r o m the above it is clear that our hero can be he who is on the side of social progress, and our viUain is he who impedes this progress. FILM



of the Film


T h e film industry of the country has come to an impasse. A l l achievements of the past are i n peril today. Chaos and confusion prevail i n all the fields of film activity due to a lack of overaU



outlook on the part of the financiers and at the same time their lack of faith i n progressive ideas which are the demands of the people today. F i h n ' makers also are i n a dilemma to select realistic fihns and lack the courage to experiment with new ideas. Fundamentahy, the whole industry is organised on a hapha­ zard basis resulting i n high cost, low box office returns and bankruptcy in quality. Economically we find the industry head­ ing towards a disaster and ruin as shown even by the F i l m E n q u i r y Committee set up by the Government of India. The failure of a huge percentage of films at the box office, proves this point beyond doubt. In the frantic efforts to recover their investments, the film makers have resorted to producing films on old reactionary for­ mulae. A t such a time as this, when the film as an art form is at the crossroads, the problem facing the industry today is whether to follow up the hackneyed hne of presentation or turn a new chapter by ushering in an era of reahsm. Under these circumstances, organisation i n all aspects of film making assumes a significant proportion. More so for the pro­ gressive forces, because on their shoulders lies the historic res­ ponsibihty of channelising our films to the service of the com­ mon man. Organisation on progressive lines is what is needed today. Specially this is a task which cannot be shirked by the workers who supply their intellectual talents to film making. Such ways and means are most essential which w i l l enstire the healthy growth of realistic films. The world conditions have obviously given an impetus to reahstic films. It is clear that the international market is divided into two parts and it is also a fact that one part of the world today is eager to have Indian films which realistically portray the conditions of the common man, his joys, his sorrows and his desire for peace and progress, Financially it w i l l be an asset to the Indian film makers to consider the demand of these countries and also, think in terms of producing realistic films. Under the circumstances, and after a thorough, analysis of the situation prevalent, the Commission has come to feel that the following suggestions w i l l go' a long way i n helping the industry to organise itself on progressive lines: (1) Progressive workers of the film industry should organise




themselves wherever there is an opportunity, to make their opinions more effective, the stress being laid on progressive writers and directors, who lend their creative talents i n the making of films. They should i n the interest of the common man form themselves into an organisation wherein they can exchange ideas and be of help to each other i n creating new and progressive films. A guild of writers on an all India basis would be of great help to the writers i n their creative problems, thus ensuring suc­ cess to their work. This coUaboration wiU help to bring healfiiy reflections on the progressive and intellectual section i n the industry. (2) W e are of the opinion that the stage should play a very constructive part i n the success of a progressive film. The film makers should seek the help of the stage to determine pubhc reaction to a particular film script, which should be made into a drama and staged before being filmed. This w i l l increase the chances of success. Towards this end, I P T A can play a very significant role. I P T A today is i n a position to encourage, such experi­ ments which w i l l put the film industry on a firm and progressive footing; this w i l l also infuse new blood i n the theatre movement and w i l l also help to start a new trend i n the making of films. The Commission is strongly of the opinion that the film today must help the common man i n his struggle for all that he aspires for. It should help h i m to solve his economic problems, his day to day needs, his fight for a better living and his search for truth, which w i l l invariably lead h i m towards reahsation of his goal of peace, democracy and freedom from social and econo­ mic enslavement. KNOW OUR HERITAGE


of the Music


The Commission recommends to the Conference that a M u s i c sub-committee of the I P T A be formed with Shri A n i l Biswas as convener and other members to be appointed b y the All-India Committee of I P T A . The functions of the Committee would be as follows:



(1) Education. Both for improving and developing the technique of I P T A singers and composers as also to get to know intimately our classical and folk heritage, the sub-committee w i l l work out methods, syllabus, etc. for educating our music workers, helping to solve their technical problems and guiding the Provincial Units i n the fulfilment of these tasks. (2) Research. T h e sub-committee w i h guide, organise and conduct research into Indian and foreign musical expressions, and build up a library of books and records. The Commission also recommends to all the Provincial Units of I P T A to form similar musical sub-committees, to take up, i n however small and elementary a manner, the question of train­ ing their music workers i n anticipation of the arrangements to be made by the AU-India M u s i c Sub-Committee. The seventh conference of the I P T A received greetings from Jean Laffitte of W o r l d CouncU of Peace, from W o r l d Federation of Democratic youth, from Chairman Tien H a n , A U China D r a m a Workers' Association, Chinese People's Committee for world peace, from Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Pakistan Sahitya Sangsad, H o w a r d Fast, Transval Indian Congress and Harindranath Chattapadhyaya, Prithviraj Kapoor and N . S. Krishnan.


Call of the new IPTA Executive



The Seventh AU-India Conference of I.P.T.A. elected a new Executive Committee consisting of the following: President:

Bimal Roy, film director and producer.

Vice-Presidents: Anna Bhau Sathe, working class writer and poet: K . Subramaniam, film producer; Mrs. Surinder Kaur, singer; K . A . Abbas, writer; Prof. A b d u l Malik, writer. General Secretary: Niranjan Sen. Joint Secretaries: Treasurer:

Jaswant T h a k k a r ; Nirmal Ghosh.

Sachin Sen Gupta.




Executive Committee Members: Prem Dhawan; Balraj Sahni and R. M . Singh (Bombay); Omar Sheikh, D . N . Gavankar and Miss E o h i n i Bhate (Maharashtra): Hemango Biswas, D i l i p Sharma and Nagen Kakoti (Assam); Sajal Roy Chowdhury, Salil Chowdhury and Govinda Chakravarty (Bengal); Janardan K u r u p (Kerala); Gayyur Qureshi, Dayaram and Harish Bhatia (Madhya Bharat); Amrit L a i Nagar, Babulal V a r m a and Rajinder Singh (Uttar Pradesh); A n i l Seth (Bihar); Mohan Singh N i r w a n (Rajasthan); Miss Nalini Mehta and Rafique A h m e d Chacha (Gujarat); Mairmohan Misra and Kalyan Majumdar (Orissa); Tera Singh C h a n d (Punjab); Sayed Siddique (Hyderabad); T . K . Sanmugam, Shrimati Varalakshmi and Mugavai Rajamanikkam (South India); Venkatrao Kandilkar (Kamataka). A t its first meeting immediately following the Conference, tiie Executive Committee discussed how to popularise and i m ­ plement the Conference decisions.

E. C. DECISIONS It called upon all I P T A units to organise discussions on the resolutions and particularly on the Manifesto and the Charter of Demands among I P T A members as well as i n the cultural world and among the people i n general,.and to collect opinions, •criticisms and questions which can be sent to the AU-India Office. It also decided that the resolution on Charter of Demands should be put before the audience on the occasion of all cultural fvmctions to get their support, publicised through the press and meetings and forwarded, to State Govemments. and M L A s . The Manifesto and Charter of Demands must be translated into pro­ vincial languages immediately. The Committee decided that the All-India Ofiice w i l l con­ tinue to be i n Calcutta and w i l l be run b y the General Secretary with the help of all other ofiice-bearers and Committee mem­ bers from C a l c u t t a ; Shri Shanti Mukherji of Bengal was nomi­ nated as the Office-Secretary. A sub-committee was set up to revise the I P T A Constitution i n accordance with the' organisa­ tional resolution and to circulate the draft as early as possible to the provincial units for their suggestions. It welcomed the invitation of Shri K . Subramaniam for a cul­ tural troupe of ten artistes from each province to tour Madras


for three weeks i n the middle of December, 1953, with songs, dances and one-act plays.




T w o shields for the best productions on the theme of peace at the 7th All-India Conference and Festival of I.P.T.A. at Bom­ bay, were awarded on behalf of the A l l India Peace Council by Shri K . Subramaniam, the well-known film producer from Madras. Director-Producer Shri Hemen Gupta presented these awards on A p r i l 12, the closing day, to the West Bengal Troupe and the D e l h i A r t Theatre. The awards were for West Bengal Troupe's presentation of Dalil (Documents), a moving drama about a refugee family from East Pakistan, written b y Ritwik Ghatak, and for D e l h i A r t Treatre's production of Sheila Bhatia's song and dance drama on Kashmir, entitled Coil of the Valley. Dalil tells the story of an East Bengal family uprooted after Partition. W e see them i n their utter misery on the crowded platforms of Sealdah Station i n Calcutta. W h e n the Prime Minister, M r . Nehru, an-ives on a visit, they demand together with other refugees that they be given relief, but are greeted with tear gas and bullets by the pohce. Brilliantly acted and extremely w e l l produced, the play got across to the audience i n spite of the barrier of language which the Bombay audience were unable to overcome. A feature of the production was the excellent hghting by Tapas Sen, which on the second day it was produced, got spontaneous applause as the curtain rose. Call of the Valley, a~beautiful exposition of the story of Kash­ mir, delighted the audience with its captivating folk songs, the finely executed miming scenes of the labour of the Kashmir people and its biting satire against the foreign imperialists and their Indian lackeys intriguing against Kashmir's freedom. The puppet dance i n the Security Council scene where the voice of the Kashmiri people reaches despite the efforts of American imperialists and the exhuberent Peace Dance at the end, with its optimistic belief i n the power of the people, received parti­ cular applause. A second performance given after the I.P.T.A. Festival, at tlie invitation of a cultural association of Punjabi residents of Bombay also drew a packed audience.






Kerala People's Art Club's Epic


"Oh ! W h a t the delegates and visitors to the I P T A C o n ­ ference have missed."—^That is how those of us who remained behind after the Conference expressed ourselves after seeing the K P A C s E p i c D r a m a " Y o u M a d e M e a Communist" staged at the Sunderbai H a l l on 18th A p r i l . T h e K P A C troupe, reach­ ing late, could only stage a few scenes during tiie Conference and these d i d not adequately convey what a great drama it was. The fom--hour long drama revolves round the story of a pauperized landlord family. Peramupillai, the aged head of the family, is steeped i n feudal illusions and superstitious and cyni­ cal about everything. H e is hostile to everything modern includ­ ing even his own son who has become a Communist and whom he turns out of the house. PeramupiUai. has his illusions about his well-to-do relative, the viUage landlord-ustirer, Keshavan Nair, the wUy tyrant who maintains a goonda gang and sets u p a rival peasant organiza­ tion to fight fhe growing peasant movement. Ultimately, Pera­ mupiUai finds out that Keshavan N a i r spares no one. H e not only oppresses the peasants and landless labourers of the village but employs the most dirty tricks to deprive PeramupiUai of his last parcel of land. T h e proverbial last straw on the camel's back comes when Peramupillai finds his son, Gopalan, beaten up mercilessly b y the hired goondas of the landlord, Keshavan Nair. H e sheds his last illusions and joins a mighty procession of the people protesting against tyranny and oppression. The whole process of the transformation of the old father, Peramupillai, is summed up i n th© title Ningal Ench Communist Aaki (You Made Me a Communist). This is, however, not merely die story of the old man and his family. The play unfolds a panoramic view of TravancoreCochin. Y o u see the totality of life, hfe with all its contradic­ tions and conflicts, its miseries as weU as its promises, its humour as w e l l as its pathos. Y o u see types and characters that are not cut and dried but chiselled out b y the dynamic force of the heroic peoples' movement. T h e author Bhaskara PiUai popularly known as "Vasi", has plunged deep into hfe not merely as an onlooker but as an ardent participant i n the struggle for trans-





by Sudhir Khastagir

Madona by Indra Dugar


by Zainul


Bengal Abedin


Hungry by





by Ramkinkar Baij






by Sunil Janah





by Provas- Sen


Santhal by Gopal

Heroine Ghose



forming it and that is why his dramatic talent could so magni­ ficently unfold life i n aU its aspects. It is no wounder that this drama took Kerala by storm and has come to be regarded as the greatest mobiliser of people. E v e n though the troupe gave 85 shows i n 97 days stiU they had to refuse many calls. Those who got scared by the title of the play and thought that they would see political tub-thmnping on the stage and went to scoff, came back all praise, thrilled b y the inescapable realism and the aesthetic vision of a N e w Kerala. The credit is not of Bhaskara PiUai alone but of all who by their acting or singing gave flesh and blood to his characters. It is a unique combination of talents and a collective achieve­ ment. There is no attempt at individual brihiance of a hero or heroine. I feel at a loss to pick out anyone i n particular. But Karunatkaran i n the role of Peramupillai is really great. I n h i m Kerala Peoples' Theatre has discovered an outstanding talent. Sudharma i n the role of Mala, the militant Harijan peasant girl, i n love with Gopalan, is sublime and superb. She appears as the embodiment of Malayalee peasantry, simple i n her demea­ nour, charming i n her appearance, yet so brave and fearless in struggle. Narayana PiUai i n the role of Nair's Gumastha, Janar­ dan K u r u p i n the role of the tyrant zemindar, Krishnapillai, as agricultural worker, and Sulochana, as the zemindar's daughter, Sumon, must be complimented for their brillant- acting and must be complimented for their brilliant acting and charac­ terization. Yet the success would have been incomplete but for the wonderful bewitching voices of Sulochana and George, the playback singer and the lyrics written by the young poet, O . N . V . Kurup, set to charming tunes based on the folk tradition of Kerala b y Music Director Devarajan. Above all it is the living experience of the real mass move­ ment that enabled the troupe to produce ilie drama so success­ fully. Bhaskara PiUai, the playwright, and Karunakaran, both Members of the Legislative Assembly, are builders of the peasant movement. Janardan K u r u p who is the President of the Kerala A r t Group is also a weU-known peasant leader, and George, the playback singer, is a coir factory worker. Still, some defects are apparent i n the drama which I would like to point out by way of suggestion. First, the Communist workers seem a bit sophisticated i n contrast w i t h the peasant



characters. Secondly, Government machinery, with its l a w and order' and police, propping up the decaying landlord system, has not been brought into the picture. Thirdly, there is a basic point about the development of the story—Gopalan marrying the zemindar's daughter Sulochana and Mala, the Harijan girl bemg made the "Rebecca" of the drama. A friend of the K P A C argued that this is actually what happens i n life to-day. B u t this is the standpoint of naturalism, not of revolutionary realism. Our task is not merely to reflect hfe but to reconstruct it i n imagination and transform it b y creating that aesthetic vision of reality, which gives art its transforming role. Hemango Biswas


O u d h is one of the main folk cultiu-al regions of Uttar Pradesh, including mainly the districts of Fyzabad, Sitapur, Hardoi, Lucknow, Rae Bareilly and Unnao. The dialect of the region is Oudhi, though there are some variations from district to district. T h e region is densely- populated and the people extremely poor and hard working. I n feudal times, those who could not be supported b y the family's land, could find a place i n the armies of the Nawabs and Jagirdars. Since the feudal armies were disbanded, the excess population of the Oudh countryside began going out to various cities all over India i n search of jobs. Today, there is probably no city or town in India where there is not quite a good number of O u d h i people. T h e majority of these people hving outside their own region are employed in jobs requiring much hard labour. They still have close links with their families and relatives living i n their villages and as such, their relation with their native soil is still a living thing. A n d because of this relation, their cultural heritage is with them. Because of the O u d h i people being poor, having to work hard and having to be brave and courageous (not a year goes b y in Oudh without a good number of crimes like dacoities, murder, etc. and local group rivalries, a gift of feudal influence) luxurious forms are weaker among the folk forms of Oudh, and at places they do not even exist. Take for example Rasia. It is a very



popular form i n some of the other regions of Northern India, but in O u d h it is not popular and generally does not exist H o l i , Fagua, Lej These are the seasonal songs, sung i n groups, to the accom­ paniment of a dholak and pairs of Jhanjh, during the H o l i Festival. T h e season of these forms starts from Basant Panchami and continues tiU R a m Navami. These are the most colourful and joyous forms because i n this season the peasants see before their eyes golden fields of wheat and they expect a golden year ahead of them. The form Holi is mainly sung by women i n Oudh. The other

two, Faigm and Lej are men's forms. Holi and Fagua generally contain tales of incidents from the Mahabharata and Rama­ yana, from the life of L o r d Krishna and L o r d Ram, or descrip­ tions of the beautiful season of Basant. These descriptive songs in particular are beautiful pieces of folk poetry. In Fagua there is also scope to give contemporary content and this opporturuty has always been utilised b y the folk poets. Every year a number of new Fagua songs portraying today's reality of life are added to the old stock. The miseries of a peasant's life are told very simply yet impressively i n the follow­

ing Fagua: Ab ham hhagi kahan dhaun javen ? Nazar din patta likhivawa—Bail kharid khet jotwawa Karja laike beej bawawa—Sinchi pati kai -fasal ugawa Char Sasurawan kati khaivaioa—Kuchh pala to gaum sataioa Jab anaj kharihanai awa—Tab byoharin kinho dhawa Raise jan bachawain—Ab ham (Where should we go n o w ? W e gave presents to the land­ lord for the patta being written i n our name. W e had to buy a bullock for the plough. F o r seeds we had to borrow money. W e grew the corn b y hard toil. A part of it the thieves took away, another part was damaged by snow. A n d when we reap the harvest, the landlord and Mahajan come in. H o w should we save ourselves from them ?) Lej is an improved form, sung by a group of selected singers. This begins with the slowness and grace of the first breeze of a morning in March and step b y step, with every hne, it's rythm



increases to an intensity which makes every part of your body sway, which makes your soul dance with joy. In all these forms progressive contemporary content can be introduced successfully and they can be improved, as already these forms were utilised during the past phase of our national liberation struggle. Biraha This form is sung b y peasants while they are alone with their cattle or working i n the fields at noon. Biraha means the emo­ tions which two lovers feel when separated. Nevertheless, apart from these emotions, pictures of various aspects of life form the subject matter of Biraha songs. I n them are presented the miseries, hardships, hopes and desires of cattle boys and land­ less tillers, i n a poetic yet realistic way. Here are lines from Biraha, to show the folk composers way of putting things:

Pantoa ke khaile pet na bharihai Othawa ke chate na piyas. (Chewing betel leaves w i l l not satisfy hunger and kissing the lips w i l l not satisfy thirst.) ADia The very name of this form indicates that i n it are described the battles fought b y A l h a and his brothers, warriors of the Raj­ put period. T h e Alha season is from July to October, the rainy season. The leading singer sings the lines and his companions sing oidy the last three or four words of the line, just to give him breathing space. This form is inspiring and exciting and has great similarity with the Powada of Maharashtra. I n Alha also various forms of poetry like Sawaiya, Kundalia, Chhand etc. are introduced i n between. In the past some National Alhas were also written and they were well received b y the people. D u r i n g the W a r the Govern­ ment utilised this form for propaganda and several volumes of German Jang Alha were published. The initial vigour and force is already there i n Alha, and if I P T A units i n O u d h take up this form, it can be successfully developed into a powerful medium for expressing contemporary content and inspiring the people. In the past, Shri R a m Bilas Sharma wrote the history of the Kanpur Mazdoor Sabha i n this form. W i l l not our poet friends come forward with some new Alhas ?



Kajri, Barahmasa, Malhar These are mainly women's forms i n Oudh. D u r i n g the rainy season, i n the month of Shrawan, there is an occasion of festi­ vities for women. Almost all the daughters of the viUage w i l l come to their fathers' homes during this month. Jhoolas w i l l be himg from trees, and the whole atmosphere w i l l resound with

Kajri, Barahmasa and Malhar. The joys and sorrows of the women are the content of Kajris and Malhurs, but i n the Barahmasa, mainly mythological stories are told. Diwali This is the only form i n our region i n which collective dance ing accompanies tlie singing. It is a community dance, performed mainly b y the community of Gowdas (milkmen) of the villages. However, this form is not prevalent all over Oudh. T h e songs sung i n Diwali form are not long ones but just smaU couplets. These Dohas are sung i n between the dance. There is a parti­ cular dress for the Diwali dancers—^black knickers and black shirt (called Bandi) with red straps, and with ghunghroos (small bells) sewn i n it. T h e dancers also wear necklaces and armlets of jungle weeds and stones, and take i n their hands sticks about four feet long. This is a colourful event. W i t h the rythmic Ho-Ho of th© dancers, the observer feels that the next moment he would also jump u p and begin dancing. F o r open air shows, I F T A should utilise this form and develop it. Navtanki, Swang

Navtanki is simUar to Bengal's

Jatra and Maharashtra's

Tamasha. It is a k i n d of open air stage performance i n which the dialogue is i n verse and th© movements of the artistes are balletised. Navtanki is performed by professional groups and these groups aie very popular. People come from 10-12 miles away to see a Navtanki. Mythological, historical, social and political, a l l types of plays are staged i n Navtanki form. The performance begins at about 9 or 10 o'clock i n the night and goes on till the next morning, sometimes tiU the sun is over­ head. Largely Navtanki and Swang convey the same meaning to the people. Swang is used for presenting comic sketches.



Bhadaiti This form originated, most probably, in the dm-bars of the Nawabs of Oudh. T h e Bhadaiti performers, known as Bhands, used to amuse the Nawabs and Jagirdars with their humorous skits, satires, monologues and caricatures. Today this form is fast decaying because of lack of patronage and also because of having been too much vulgarised. However, i f handled properly and developed by I P T A , i t can serve as a good medium. This form has much in common with the Gambheera form of Bengal. Ramlila, Rashlila, Dhanusbhang These are the forms i n which the life of L o r d Ram, incidents from L o r d Krishna's life and the story of the marriage of L o r d R a m are presented on a single-set stage. These lilas continue for several days and whole night performances are held. Govind Moonis Unity, May-June 1953




A zonal conference of the North-Bengal branches v i z . D a r jeeling, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, Malda, Cooch-Behar and West Dinajpur was held just after the AU-India Conference, at Jalpaiguri. Many local units i n the tribal belt of 24-Parganas district held conventions recently to popularise the Conference decisions and to discuss the manifesto and other important resolutions. The West-Benal Committee has published a booklet contain­ i n g the manifesto and other resolutions i n Bengali. The South Calcutta U n i t of the Calcutta Branch has staged a number of successful shows of the drama—Muktii- U p a y — a satirical comedy b y Rabindranath Tagore during the last one and half months. Assam :

Music classes have been opened in different parts of Gauhati to train up new cadres.



A ballet on the song 'Abak Prithibi' by Sukanta Bhattacharya composed by M u k u n d a Bhattacharya was staged on June 30 at Silchar (Cachar) with tremendous success. Madhya Bharat (Indore):

D u r i n g the Southern M a d h y a Bharat Peace Conference inau­ gurated by M r . J. C . Kumarappa and presided over by M r . Chatumarain Malaviya M . P . , a variety programme of three songs, one dance and a one-act play 'Aman K i Ore' were staged before an audience of thousand, on an open air stage. T h e audience sat through the programme tiU late at night and applauded the show, specially the Peace playlet. Vttar Pradesh .-

T h e L u c k n o w unit ran a regular school during the summer vacation to give preliminary lessons i n music, dance and drama. T h e last day of the school was observed with cultural perfor­ mances for the public. It was a tremendous success. Little


The Little Theatre group of Calcutta recently staged 'Achalayatan' b y Poet Tagore, a difBcult diama to stage, successfully before a select audience. Local press has also hailed this per­ formance. The play was directed by U t p a l Dutta. Artists Association in

South linia :

The South Indian Artistes' Association was inaugurated at the National Girls H i g h School, Madras, by M r . T . C . Vadivelu Naicker, veteran actor and playwright. M r . H . M . Reddy, fihn producer and director, presided. Unity, July




The union of the trinity—^Peace, People and Drama—^has con­ tinued undisturbed for several centuries. Though M a n is the creator of the peace and the drama, yet drama and peace have helped each other develop and both together have aided human progress. Some savants have called the world a battle-field, yet there are others who have said that this would is a stage, and the latter is proved to be more appropriate.



M a n invented first the bow and through the strumming of the bow-string, thought of fashioning the string instruments. A n d as the.happy man burst out singing, the string instruments ac­ companied him harmoniously; later he improved the instru­ ment and wrought the magnificent rainbow of music. So too, M a n i n a joy-maddened mood imitated others, and drama was born out of this mimicry. This he developed and finaUy created the drama that thrilled with delight the hunian heart. W h i l e satisfying his physical hunger, M a n endeavoured to provide for the satisfaction of the intellectual hunger. M a n loved drama, as it dehghted him, imade h i m forget for a while ah his sorrows, and gave h i m peace of mind. D r a m a was considered to be thus an inseparable part of his existence. That explains the aptness of the saying: the world is a stage. There is an immeasurable distance between the stage and the battlefield. A fundamental difference divides the two and today the difference has become most app^ent. O u r ancient history provides us with a long list of the names of our great dramatists, their dramas and immortal sayings. A t the same time, that very history also tells us about the great warriors, their conquests, aggressions and heroism. Stones everywhere have carved on them tales of their glory and power. Thus it is clear that the two traditions of the stage and the battlefield flew from our past history. One represents folk drama and the other, the sword and the battlefield. Numerous battles have been fought i n our land, many a war­ monger has devastated this fair land of ours and hence the country could not progress i n any way. L a n d is ruined, people are impoverished and ignorance grow rampant. Marvellous buildings, temples and mosques, rock-carved caves and books— all these have perished. Horrible and inhuman practices like skinning alive a person and sending the skin as a present, pul­ ling out eyes, burying alive and flooding the harems with women and young girls, prevailed. K i n g Allatshaka invaded the an­ cient city of Pataliputra and perpetrated an indiscriminate massacre; a terrible state of affairs followed. "As all the male population was wiped out i n this ferocious battle, women performed all the men's tasks. They ploughed the fields and guarded them, bows i n hand. W o m e n lived everywhere i n groups. M e n were so scarce that ten to twenty women married a single man." Thus wrote Gargacharya i n his Yugapurana.



Bakhtiar Khilji looted and burnt the ancient seat of learning— the Nalanda University. T h e best of books were used as fuel for providing meals to the a r m y ; the inmates, priests devoted to learning, were put to the sword; A n d i f we are to restrict ourselves to Asia, then, it is reported that Genghis Khan tore famous books to prepare a bed for his horse. Many such acts have taken place, but we cannot say that people have benefited. Because these bloody events are fuh of untold sorrow, suffering, brutality and agony, people never loved these; on the other hand, they have ever condemned these actions. The word "war" has always sent a shiver of horror over them, made them care-worn; joy, laughter, happi­ ness, aU have fled at the mention of war. People have witnessed with disgust blood-filled trenches on the battlefield.

Grandeur of Life But drama and the dramatists till now have delighted the people. The stage has been like a mirror and man has looked at himself on the stage. Dramatists, through their plays, have emphasised comedy, laughter and the grandeur of human hfe. Through love, peace, kindness and humanism, they charmed the people and while delighting, taught them lessons of friend­ ship and unity, instructed them how to live and behave. T h e triumph of good and the fall of evil, they have portrayed on the stage. They have demonstrated through their plays that M a chiavelhanism meets its Nemesis, sacrifice alone leads to the desired goal. Tyrants have been subjected to critical cross-fire i n ancient drama. The old plays also gave us the guarantee of victory of true love. Has not Bhasa, our first dramatist, i n creating the character of Shakar i n Charudattam, the brutish autocrat, demonstrated the intehectual bankruptcy of such tyrants ? Catching Vasantsena b y her hair, he arrogantly asks "who w i h help you now, Vasudeva, the lord of Bhutpuri or Janmejaya, son of Kunti ?" As Dushasana dragged Draupadi thus: "I am dragging you by your hair !" Bhasa has shown simultaneously the empty-headedness, atrocity and ridiculous­ ness of the ruler. A t the end of every play of his. Bhasa asked his audience ! "What more should I do to please you ?" Tliis shows drama was born to please the people. Thus, our stage began its task of pleasing the people from 450 B . C . Later, Shudraka (about 200 B . C . ?) based his play Mricha12



katik on Bhasa's Charudattam, and gave a different shape to Bhasa's idea. Shudraka's Shakar orders his slave to k i l l Vasant­ sena. A s he refuses, Shakar warns h i m : " Y o u are m y slave." T o which the slave gives the slashing reply: "Though I am a slave, m y soul is no slave." T h e slave does not murder Vasant­ sena. Here one finds how Shudraka has depicted the wicked­ ness of these kings, and the awakening among the slaves and how drama is against murder.

Miracle of Art About Kalidasa (about 387 B.C.), the great poet. H i s Shakun­ tala, with sacred love and lofty emotions approached Dushyanta. She proved her purity. Through her triumph, Kalidasa has shown us the triumph of tlie womanhood of his days. "Blessed is the Father whose garments get sullied with the dust Clinging to a child's toe." Goethe, the great German poet, danced with joy reading these lines. This is the Miracle of A r t that brings about international cultural unity. O u r drama possesses this unity. W a r divides but does not unite. Kalidasa himself de­ monstrates how hte dramatist has an undying faith i n love and co-operation. H e says: "Whenever you walk seven steps with someone or talk a little friendship is born," (Kumarsambhava). One can deduce from all this that our old dramatists have all along attempted to please the people; they have exploited all their energies and inspiration, for love, friendship and peace. They celebrated tlie festival of Victory of Peace i n joyous imagery on the stage. This leads some to regard folk songs and folk drama as the fifth Veda. Today our stage has reached the plains of Prakrit, from the high crest of glory attained b y our folk drama. Marathi drama begins i n 1843 while 1795 witnessed the birth of Bengali drama. The stage i n Maharashtra and Bengal has entertained millions of people during the last hundred years. F r o m Gereshim Lebedev and Shri Golak Nath Das to Rabindranath and from Rabindranath to the People's Theatre Association, the Bengah stage has registered unbroken progress ; it delighted the people at different periods, changed with the Bengali society. The People's Theatre Association's play Navanna based on famine has become immortal. Anyone witnessing the peace ballet of the Bengal branch of the Indian People's Theatre Association, w i h certainly condemn war.



Marathi Stage On the Marathi stage one comes across the immortal names of Aimasaheb Kirloskar, Deval, Kolhatkar, Gadkari, K3iadilkar, Warerkar and Atre. T h e Marathi stage voiced various social sufferings. O u r stage has so many dramas to its credit that it is impossible to enumerate them, let alone to discuss and analyse. Certainly our stage has attacked the rotten aspects of our society and guarded the best ones. Where the people are, there their art is. It would be an ano­ maly if the people stand below and art flutters i n the sky above. T h a t is not perfect art. A r t moves hand i n hand with people. If the people smile then art, too, smiles. It is like their shadow. But as we know the shadow changes with the sun. W h e n the "sun" of economics changes, art too changes its direction. This principle has changed our stage i n the past and w i l l change it i n the future. Today, i n our country, to the miUions of people very few means of entertainment are available. It is their inmost desire to have entertainment and secure peace of mind. This is the guiding principle of the Indian People's Theatre Association. W e have injected a new soul and spirit i n the old drama. M a n y a talented Indian artist is working i n the I P T A . F r o m the south has emerged the burrakatha and deathless plays like Mabhoomi; Punjab has rejuvenated old dramatic forms ; old Maharashtrian tamasha has achieved new popularity, to the accompaniment of the same old tunes; our new artists of the people are singing new songs, bewitching masses of people and spreading the message of peace and unity of th© N e w Age.

The Cause of Peace Although Aiu-angzeb, who said: "Bury art so deep that it can never, never raise its head", has long been a historical figure, yet new Aurangzebs are b o m today. Along with the peoples of the world the Indian people too have their future menaced by the danger. Peace is the prime need of our land. The entire world is oscillating between war and peace. Sometimes war seems to be winning, sometimes peace. One conscious section of the people is striving for peace while the other section is not so peace-conscious. If all sections of the people were equally conscious, peace could be secured and the path of world war




barred. H u m a n progress would follow. Therefore, the cause of peace, awakening the people, arousing their consciousness, making them peace-conscious, is the historical responsibility of the I P T A and it must shoulder it. In ancient wars some were killed, those left alive lived again their lives. B u t i n the third world war, it is futile to expect that anyone shall survive. T h e new war is to be fought with an all destructive atomic weapon. If anything at all survives i n a future war, the world shall probably take thousands of years to recover. M a n w i l l lose humanity. The temple of new culture we are striving to construct, w i l l topple i n the dust. W i l l all this happen ? If at all you want to know, better ask Nagasaki and Hiroshima. They have experienced the atomic weapon: Yet they are undergoing the harrowing aftermath of the b o l w ; even today new generations b o m there are lame, maimed, deaf-mute. A l l this indicates, man is losing humanity. If-his tongue is paralysed what hope is there for a r t ? If his ears go deaf, who shall cherish music ? If war affects the vital parts, w i l l it not affect the inspiration of artists ? Hence, peace to the people and their artists. None yet has reaped a harvest of grains from the trenches of the battlefield. Therefore, life demands peace. Comedy has exceptional importance i n the drama. That smile and laughter shall never be on the face of the father who has a dead child i n his arms; hence laughter and smiles demand peace. A burning house and a sinking ship can never be the place for a playwright to act his p l a y ; hence drama demands peace. Music was born out of the bowstring. Though we accept this statement of Shri Tembe, yet out of the blasting explosions of the atom bomb, M a n can secure no kind of music; hence music demands peace. Kalidasa was dejected eyeing the pale crescent moon. If this is tme, then, the hydrogen bomb which brings the entire heat of the sun, lying millions of miles away, w i l l not gladden nor inspire any modem Kalidasa. Therefore, creative instincts de­ mand peace; the trinity of people, drama and peace, must be maintained. Today, peoples of different countries are unitedly opposing the preparations of a third world war and defending peace People want peace for progress and culture. That is why they oppose aggression.



W e too must line up with the people. Through our songs and dramas, we must oppose war. Because this is the main duty of the I P T A and is i a its tradition. Those who dropped germ bombs on the Chinese and Korean soil, those who drenched Korea i n blood and pubhcly awarded prizes for human heads i n Malaya, are shamelessly talking the language of "Peace". Their peace and our peace are different. Their peace does not form a part of human tradition. Therefore the I P T A must, while rousing the people, propagate true peace, unity and progress. ANNABHAU SATHE UnUy, July 1953

Growing Cultural Activities in East Pakistan The conference on folk-arts i n East Pakistan recently held at Chittagong was an event of great significance i n developing the theatie movement i n the seivice of the people. Folk composers and artistes assembled at Chittagong from different parts of East Pakistan. The festival of folk forms, for several nights, demonstrated the vigour, wealth and present plight of these forms. The mutual exchanges of folk-forms on the stage among these composers and artistes from different districts and areas and discussions held to find ways and means to revive and revitalise the treasure of folk-forms and to build a living organisation for this purpose, have paved the way for developing a mighty peoples, cultural movement i n East-Pakistan.

Jessore Samskriti Parishad staged successfully the drama, 'Chenra-tar' (Broken Chord) by Sri Tulsi L a h i r i in the first week of August.

Gramophone Company stops release of a Satire against Ameri­ can Licentiousness A satirical sketch by Sj. Kshitish Bose, a renowned comedian and Vice-President of Calcutta I.P.T.A., exposing American licentiousness i n Japan has been censored by the Censor Board of the Columbia Gramophone Company.



It is important to note, however, that American hcentiousness claims to its credit no less than two lakhs of illegitimate chil­ dren b y Japanese girls.

Cinema Workers Stand Firmly against


O n the 29th July the Bengal Motionpicture Employees' U n i o n met at a Conference i n the Students' H a l l presided over by Sri N . K . Malik, an employee. After an elaborate and ins­ piring speech b y Sri Haripada Chatterjee, Secretary of the Union, the conference passed, along with other resolutions, a resolution severely protesting against the measures of retrench­ ment and resolving to fight it out with a l l strength. I n the same resolution they demanded increnient of D . A . , security of service and introduction of provident fund benefits.

Progressive Writers Observe Sukanta's Birth-day Progressive Writers Association. West Bengal, observed Sukanta's birth-day on the 16th August at 46, DharmtoUa Street. Sree Narayan Canguli, the well-known novehst, pre­ sided over the ftmction. A number of prominent young writers were present. T h e programme included songs (Sukanta's poems set to tune) b y I F T A , recitations from Sukanta's poeins and some speches on the life and revolutionary literary creations of Sukanta b y some prominent writers.

Little Theatre Production Poster-plays Little Theatre group of Calcutta recently staged a number of shows of the poster plays viz. on the recent bye-election held at Maheshtala, on the resistance movement against the enhance­ ment of second-class fare of tramcars and on the hves and struggles of the peasants of K a k d w i p covering nearly hundred thousand audience.

Bohurupe^s Repertoire 'Bohurupee' of Calcutta has been presenting nearly every Sunday on the N e w Empire Stage for the last two months, its successful dramas produced d m i n g the last three years viz. Char-Adhyay by Rabindranath Tagore, Dasha-Chakra^—an adaptation Ibsen's 'Enemy of the People,' Ulukhagra, etc.



I. P. T . A . N E W S

Bengal North Calcutta unit has staged 'Aj-Kal' on the 'Rangmahal' stage. It has earned appreciation of the audience, drama critics and the press. South Calcutta U n i t has staged the poster play, ' P I C E - W A R ' i n difFerent localities and this unit has Completed the rehearsal of the full-length drama, 'Abad'. Kanchrapara Unit of 24-Parganas (Industrial) district held its annual conference where the manifesto and other resolu­ tions adopted at the last A . I . Conference were discussed, ex­ plained and adopted. T h e festival part included songs and drama b y the local unit, songs b y some prominent artistes of Calcutta and a few cultural items by other local units of that district. Assam T h e Gauhati branch staged a programme of dance, drama and songs on the 25th and 26th July before packed houses. These performances were dedicated to the cause of 'Political Sufferers' fund'. U p t i l now this branch used to stage only songs, dances or shadow plays. But this occasion was the first one when this branch took up dramas seriously. The programme included d r a m a s — N A G P A S H translated into Assamese from BengaH and T U F A N — a drama on the lives of the tea garden labourers b y Nagen Kakoti written i n the dialects of the plantation work­ ers themselves. T U F A N tried to depict the awakening of the thousands of semi-starved plantation workers imder the white bosses expressing their miseries, hopes and struggles. These two performances created a stir among the dramatists, actors and the population of the town. Specially the drama 'Tufan' was really an achievement and had shown the dramatists and the drama workers of Assam the abundant drama-content lying un-explored, among the toiling masses. These performan­ ces made the members more conscious and determined to i m ­ prove the technical aspect of the performance. T h e 'Barpeta' unit held its local conference where the most respected and veteran artistes of Bangeet—a popular classical form of Assam—^namely, Dayal Sutradhar, Narahari Rurabhakat, Girish Bayan and many others participated.



Bihar The Patna Unit organised a cultural show moblising many local artistes and organisations on the occasion of the A . I . Peace Council session held at Patna i n July. Gujarat The Ahmedabad unit staged successfully 'Ma-ji-hu Mandir' a peace-drama b y Sri Jashwant Thakkar on the 8th August. Kerala Kerala drama festival w i l l be held from the 20th to 28th August at Kozhikode. Uttar Pradesh ' T h e Meerut unit observed T u l s i Jayanti' on the 17th August at Sangeet-Samaj hall. Professor R a m Prokash Agarwal presided. M a n y prominent artistes and the I P T A Unit presented songs and a shadow play. Unity, Aug.-Sept.




"Vande Mataram !" Before w e start, I wish to say a few word. Every year on this day on the occasion of "The Indepen­ dence D a y " I say something to you who come to see me act. There is very little to say, for I cannot find the enthusiasm to say anything. O u r experience of the last six years of Indepen­ dence does not enthuse me to say anything. W h a t joy is there outside, either? Y o u know that very well yourselves. 'Tes, we gained Independence' on the 15th August. But what sort of 'independence' is i t ? The British, before leaving, b y drawing lines on the map divided the country into two and gave us 'independence'. Forming States on the basis of religion, they made sure of their supremacy. O u r leaders accepted the Mountbatten Award—the result of which is the Kashmir affair. In Korea also they kept alive discontent by dividing the coun­ try at the 38th parallel and today blood flows i n torrents there. I must warn you that as the U . N . meddled i n Korea, so it ma:y i n Kashmir also. So much for 'independence'.



"Now I would like to say a few words about the stage i n Bengal. Critics i n the Press are forever writing of the crisis of the Bengali stage. They say that the stage is deteriorating, no new dramas are being put forward and I keep on with the same old 'Alamgir'. Such things can only be said by those who have no true sympathy for the stage and who i n fact do not come to the stage. Such irresponsible talk can only come from those who are not truly well-wishers of the stage. Before criti­ cising it is necessary to really knOw the stage." "The stage is the mirrOr of a country and a nation's cultural life. Where the country and the nation eke out their existence some how, what is there to be surprised at if the stage also ekes out a miserable existence? I n the whole of India, it is only in Bengal that a professional stage has grown up. D u r i n g the last many years that stage has progressed with the patronage of only its audience. But this is not enough if it is to keep alive and grow further. F o r that State help is required. "You w i l l appreciate what I say if you think of those coun­ tries which have attained the higher plane of cultural life, and the help drama has received there. F o r the growth of the stage a large amount of money is required but this, only the State can, provide. But this does not mean that the stage w i l l register growth merely if the State is rich. There is a State where there is plenty of money but there is no professional stage. That country is the U.S.A. "When I went to America there were between 80 to 100 halls for the professional stage. N o w all that is over. That shows that only money cannot advance the cultural life of a nation. The sympathy and sincerity of the State is also needed. "In our countiy, the Govemment does not help the stage in any way. O n the contrary, the stage has been burdened with such taxes and other expenses that it finds it well nigh impos­ sible to function properly. "Another point made b y the critics is that I do not give them new dramas. Those who see me act know that since moving into this house I have given them a number of new plays. But just new dramas are not enough. There must be a message i n them, and such a message is there i n the drama you w i l l witness today. "So, instead of giving cheap advice it is necessary to show the way. Nothing wiU come of it if we look to the Govemment.




The only path to growth of the stage is the unity and co-opera­ tion of the people. "For oiu- 'independence' is saturated with the spirit of sub­ servience. The movement of the common man once gave b i i i b to the famous Abbey Theatre i n England. T o take the theatre i n our country forward, similar united and organised efforts are needed." Sisir K u m a r Bhaduri (Tmnslated by Gyan Kapur from the report of Sudhi Pradhan in Bengali in "Theatre")


August 15 this year marked the end of six years of Congress brand 'independence the achievements of which are paraded b y the Govemment while for the people it has meant growing misery, nakedness and starvation. As lathis, bullets and repres­ sive laws have been the Government's answer to the rising up­ surge sweeping the country i n all walks of life, so i n the field of art and cultiure too, the Government has pursued a barren, stagnant and shamefully obstmctionist policy. The growing theatre activities and cultural upsurge i n the country, b o m our of the living experience of our people and our glorious cultural heritage, is sought to be curbed b y two methods. O n the one hand the Govemment refuses to patronize i n any way the efforts and the movement to develop our national theartre arts. O n the contrary, a number of repressive measuresto throttle the growth of these activities have been adopted. O n the other hand the Govemment is taking recourse to the pernicious and hateful method of thought control b y hiring and buying artistes and writers to eulogise its policies and pro­ grammes. Alien and harmful ideologies are being propagated through the medium of bought artistes, and writers and the people sought to be diverted from their struggles into believing that 'Ram Rajya' has arrived. Here I shall confine myself only to the repressive policies of our present Govemment. Stage Gagged with the Hated Act of 1876 Scmtiny of dramas and plays under the British regime was in the hands of the police. But even i n independent India why



this should be so is a question which was righly asked by the great director and actor, Sri Sisir Kumar Bhaduri, speaking on August 15, 1952. The hated A c t of 1876 has been re-enacted and besides a number of other repressive measures have been taken i n various States. T h e hands of the police, now made the custodian of art in the Congress regime have been strengthened much more than in the British regime. As is understandable, the brunt of this attack has been borne b y the progi-essives and specially b y the IPTA. Below is the text of the notice served on the Secretary, West Bengal Branch of I P T A , b y the Commissioner of Police, Calcutta. "In accordance with the provision laid down under Section 7 of the Dramatic Performance Act, 1876, you are hereby re­ quested to furnish this office b y 18th February, 1953, at the latest with the printed or manuscript copies of the drmas men­ tioned i n the statement enclosed herewith and which the I P T A have already staged i n public places. The dramas are required by this office for review so as to ascertain the character of each of the same. "Non-submission of the dramas by the above mentioned date w i l l be treated as violation of the provisions of the Dramatic Performance A c t and legal action w i l l be taken against you as contemplated under Section 176 of the Indian Penal Code." This notice enraged not only the entire membership of the I P T A and an overwhelming mass of artists and art organisations but members of parliament including even Congress M P s i n the Upper House were startled b y the revelation of these facts. T h e West Bengal I P T A Secretary took the only rightful course—^he treated the notice with the scorn it deserved and refused to comply with the police instructions, stating i n his reply that the said requisition notice was illegal, unconstitutional and without jurisdiction. Going through the list given b y the Police Commissioner, one is amazed at the crass ignorance of these self-imposed guardians of our culture. One would feel like laughing had not the whole thing moved one to anger and revulsion. The long list of 54 'dramas' contains some amazing and unheard of names which can only be the outcome of sheer stupidity or naked arrogance or both on part of the pohce, to whom our Govemment has entmsted the task of keeping an eye on our cultural life.




A m o n g the hst of 54 there are a number of names of supposed plays which no one has ever heard of while quite a few plays staged by other progressive dramatic groups like the Bohuroopee, Little Theatre, etc. have also been attributed to I P T A . O f the manuscripts required to be produced was 'Tulsi L a h i r i ' — a task which the I P T A would have found very difficult, indeed, to perform even if it had wanted to do so, which it did not. For, Tulsi L a h i r i happens to be a weh known and loved and respected dramatist of Bengal, (author of Chhenra Tar published i n U N I T Y ) and apparently the police had him on their brains. Two other names are equally fantastic—^Eancharapara, the name of the station where the railway workshop is situated and 'Silk Sari',* of which the name is self-explanatory. C o u l d there be any connection between the two—Kancharapara, the symbol of militant labour threatening the life of ease and comfort of the police symbohsed b y the 'Silk Sari' ? Only the Pohce could give an answer. So much for the lighter side of the affair. But there is an­ other, much more serious side to this which reveals that noth­ ing is safe from the hands of these vandals. Navanna was first staged b y I P T A i n 1944. N o w nine years after, the poHce want to censor this drama which has won its place i n the hearts of countless Bengalees. Of the other manuscripts wanted b y the police are the following: 1. Mahesh by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya. 2. Cora by Rabindra Nath Tagore (It is incidentaUy not a play but a novel). 3. N i l Darpan—Classic b y Dinabandhu Mitra on the Indigo planters. 4. Bisarjan—Rabindra Nath Tagore. 5. Officer—Gogol. (Gogol has not written any such drama). W h a t sort of independence is it if the police can dare to think of censoring the works of Tagore, Sarat Chandra, D i n a Bandhu M i t r a or Gogol ? Similar suppression is going on all over the States. Recent moves b y the P E P S U Government w i l l mean virtual paralysis of cultural hfe there. It is learnt that the enactment vvill empower Deputy Commissioners to ban dramatic performances even before the dramas have actually been staged. Deputy Commissioners will have the power to gag actors and artistes and serve prohibitory orders on the owner or occupier of any house i n which such performances may be intended to be given.



The worst part of it is that it w i h sanction blatant police inter­ vention i n cultural affairs and give maximum powers to the pohce ot resort to punitive measures against authors, artistes and theatre proprietors. The police w i l l also be empowered to raid places of performance, arrest actors on the spot, remove stage property and take into their custody the manuscript of the play. The Congress rulers of P E P S U , being imsuccessful i n pro­ mulgating this A c t for the last two yeai's due to tremendous opposition inside the Assembly and peoples' resistance, are seeking to promulgate it under an authoritarian President's regime. In the Punjab the police authorities have banned the staging of anti-recruitment dramas and many socially significant plays. The censorship there is being mercilessly utilised i n such a way that, more or less, no good critical peoples' drama can be staged. This has meant i n practice the stopping of the activities of thea­ tre organisations unless they sing the praise of the Govemment and slander the peoples' movement. In Lucknow four I P T A members including Mrs. Razia Sajjad Zaheer and Babulal Varma are being prosecuted for staging a drama without permission. W e know that in Trivancore Cochin, the most popular drama ' T o u Made M e a Communist" was banned recently though the Govemment was forced to withdraw the ban as a result of the peoples' mobilisation against the order. But reports state that the Govemment is trying desperately to utilise police power i n various ways to stop these popular dramas, songs etc. D u r i n g the AU-India Conference of I P T A i n Bombay, Morarji's police put all sorts of censorship obstacles i n the path of the Festival. Morarji himself told a deputation which met him that everything would be solved i f the strictest censorship rules were followed and a guarantee to this effect was given by the organisers. N e w amendments to the Dramatic Performances Act of 1876 were moved and passed i n the Bombay Assembly to strengthen the hands of the police and to bring all types of cultural items, viz., songs, powadas, shadow play, etc. etc. under censorship rule. D u r i n g the six years of Congress rule, a number of ver)' popular powadas, tamashas, etc. have been banned. F r o m these few examples from only a few states among in­ numerable instances, one cannot help asking the question: Are these indications of tlie flowering of art and culture under the




Congress rule ? O r are these signs of panic at the rise and growth of a healthy people's theatre movement i n India ? Entertainment

Tax Throttles


The entertainment tax which originated during the British regime has continued to be increased under Congress rule and serves as a cripphng influence on the strugghng theatre groups. It is next to impossible for these groups to collect and deposit the large sums of money i n advance as required by the law and as a result they cannot put through their programmes. T h e demand for the exclusion of the theatre from the entertainment tax has been widespread and voiced b y practically everyone of consequence connected with the theatre which faces slow and gradual extinction but the Govemment has not heeded it. Still, i t claims itself as furthering the theatre arts. Economic

Pressure against Progressive


The Central and State Govemments issued circulars, which continue i n force still, harming Govemment employees from joining I P T A , P W A and other progressive cultural organisa­ tions. T h e economic dependence of Government servants is nsed to prevent them from joining any particular group or asso­ ciation for developing their cultural life. Artistes connected with the I P T A and other progressive orga­ nisations are debarred from programmes i n the A I R . In the re­ cent past many prominent songsters of Bengal were not given programmes in Calcutta Station of 'Akash Vani'. Recently, too, D i l i p Sharma and other artistes of Assam were served with notices to give u p singing I P T A songs otherwise their pro­ grammes were threatened to be stopped. This is the freedom of the artiste i n the much vaunted democracy of the Congress Govemment. D u r i n g the last two or three years tremeiidous opportunities liave arisen of cultural exchanges between our country and other friendly countries where art and culture are flowering as never before. This xechange could be a means of enriching the ex­ perience of our artistes and could help i n developing our theatre arts i n the light of our own tradition. B u t our government, spe­ cially the state govemments, far from encouraging this exchange, are following a policy of restriction i n granting passports even. A m o n g those who were recently refused visas without assigning



any reasons are: Professor A b d u l Malek, well known literary figure of Assam, Sri Subramanyam, Producer and Director of South India, Anna Bhau Sathe, Omar Sheikh, Niranjan Sen, General Secretary, I P T A , and many others. Govemment Patronage to the Arts a Mere Sham The Secretary of the Government sponsored National Sangeet Natak Akademy recently outlined among other things plans for meeting the requirement of more theatres. It would seem from her statement that presently there were some theatre haUs and the question was only of increasing the number. Unfortunately, as everyone at aU interested i n these matters knows, apart from the three b i g cities, there are practicaUy no theatres. Even i n these cities the number of theatre halls proper is smaU and these are not easily available for use of the theatre groups. Further, the professional stage is facing an acute crisis and halls are closing down or going over to the cinema. The theatre groups carry on anyhow with halls not at all intended for theatrical per­ formances or even i n the open air. Even i n the capital of India, there i n not a single theatre hall proper which any group can utilise. The one open air theatre built during the war has not been renovated either while theatre organisations i n D e l h i have developed beyond imagination during the last six years. The needs of the theatre world w i l l not be met b y mere pro­ mises and plans of the Akademy. If Shrimati Nirmala Joshi means to fulfil her promise, the Akademy should have ah M u n i ­ cipal and Coi-poration halls equipped and transformed into theatre halls and more halls should also be built b y the Corpo­ ration or municipal authorities or directly b y the Government. These should be available to theatre groups at nominal rents to enable them to experiment and to perform. The Akademy has no such power. It can only bestow the gift of a Kashmere shawl or a costly sitar on this artiste or the other. It cannot solve the acute economic crisis of artistes or give them freedom from the insecurity they face. The Constitution of the Akademy puts too many restrictions on affiliation so that practically no theatre organisation can get affiliated unless i t is directly sponsored b y the State Government or is a constituent part of a State Akademy, which is as yet a myth. Such an organisation can never be of representative



character and can only be mere eyewash. If it is to do any work, it should immediately liberalise its Constitution and gain the confidence of the artists and the people through genuine efforts to develop theatre arts following our best traditions. A n y Govemment which wants to develop the country's art and culture must support financially these activities, and the professional stage, which is i n a bankrupt condition. This is only possible if an amount is aUotted i n the budget and this has not been done. Without this all talk b y the Akademy can only be empty propaganda and aU the b i g plans cannot dupe the artistes, the theatre world and the people. W e have seen above what six years of the Congress brand of independence have meant i n the field of art and culture. Seeing their policies i n the economic and political fields, this is only to be expected. But the people are marching to end nakedness, starvation and b m t a l repression all over the country. A n d so all theatre organisations, as well as individual artistes must unite and launch a movement to end this state of affairs and to realise the demands of the entire theatre movement, adopted at the last I P T A conference. The real lovers of art and culture must stand shoulder to shoulder and their gigantic strength w i l l w i n . Niranjan Sen Unity, December PROGRESS O F M A L A Y A L E E



T h e stage is a centre of art, may be on a small scale. It is even doubtful i f there is any other art so much akin to the people as the Drama. Almost all arts can join hands here. It gives scope for joint activity right from the creation upto appreciation. T h e drama is the product of the work of a group of people. The writing of a drama, is it not an individual con­ cern, it may be asked. O f course, it is trae but drama is not a book to be read alone, i n that case, the form of drama would have been superfluous. This does not mean that there are no novels written i n dramatic from. T h e point is when drama comes to the stage, it is a joint activity. Similarly, from the point of view of spectators too, it is a people's art. Technical knowledge is not much required for its appreciation. People don't crowd before a kathakali performance not because it is a b a d art.



Tp appreciate it, certain minimum technical knowledge is essen^tial,' Those iwho! go for a Kathakali performance not kriowiS'^ much of its:technique, m a 7 have to tdce the company of othersfar; real enjoyment. I am referring here to those who a|>pfeciat^ art a n d iiot to those who: take it'as a fashion to go to KdthakaJF rlisjien • to' a! cricket running commentary. 'Now,'drama'doesT ij(^c;haye-tiiiS::difficulty. It is true that to enjoy a drama of a high^ standard, the spectator should have a somewhat raised cidtural* level, E v e n that, technically won't be a hiirdle before a cbmmbn man. Thfis, both, with-regard to the actor as w d l a§ the-s^'ei?-''' tator, drama is equally a people's art. A s has rbeeii: said already, all types of artistes can "join on the stage. Writer, actor, musician, dancer, orchestraman, painter— all have a place there. Therefore every dramatic centre is re­ ally a "centre of art." I n this context, one thing has to be men­ t i o n e d . / O u r art clubs, once they take -their feet off the stage, wfll no-longer remain art clubs. This danger w i l l come abbiat if • they are engaged only m literary and philosophical discussions. The stage should be the central attraction of our art clubs. A l l the'rest shoiild be orgainised arOund it. It w i l l provide oppor­ tunity l o talk about ahd discuss literature. A drama fcan Ss well be performed based on a poem. Take for instance poems like Krishna Wariior's ' T h e song i n the T r a m " or 'Vailopplllis ^''in Korea-ih "Seoul". Prolonged discussions can be' had on thent' f r b n i l h e fhcahe'tb thc^ question Of'their ada"ptability on the stage." Philosophy, politics—all can come up i n the course of discussion. Similarly, one can discuss how to stage'nOvels i n the form of" drama (e.g. Bashif's " M y Grandpa had an Elephant"). One can^ discuss dramas, songs and so on—oiily thmg is," that these'discussions should culminate i n a cultural demonstration. Other-" wise, "the work of our artistes can never be made "creatiye. N o " arlMe.r'can content himself with a discussion-bf the intellectuals' just.-as agony of a mother has never beeja reinoved by theo'-^' retical 'discussions on question of child birth. 'Therefore oiir'artclubs should hot function without keeping i n m i n d the' impor­ tance of stage. A n d i h fact the work should start with a drama. N o mo-vement can grow without getting closer to the people and taking firm roots i n their minds. A n d we' have seen that drama is the best form of art to get closer to the people. There has been a misunderstanding that people's art means something of a low level. Y o u need not feel satisfied i f the 13



people i n our villages don't say anything against a backward performance. They w i l l gratefuUy tolerate any effort at impart­ ing at least some relief to the dry and monotonous rural, life. That is i n a way the merit of the art. O n l y one with aesthetic appeal can capture the heart of the people. People who sym­ pathise with a lame man or a blind woman only display a sense of realism. They w i l l as well just tolerate dramatic performances that challenge their aesthetic sense, that's all. V i e w e d i n this light, has our Malayalee dramatic stage ad­ vanced or gone down ? I feel, it has advanced. W h y ? HAS




For this it would be better to have a look at the history of the Malayalam drama. T o be frank, the Malayalam Theatre has not much of a heritage to claim as its own. Even certain scholars try to bring out that Kathakali has been transformed— improved or otherwise—^into drama. This is not true. Both are two different kinds of art. If the element of dance i n Kathakali is taken into account, it means only that it belongs to the school of dance. As the Aryans got a foothold i n the cultural life of Kerala, the 'Kavyanatakas' (poetic draina) i n Sanskrit were established i n our soil. Bhasa and Kalidasa descended, down to Kerala. Their beautiful forms of presentation attracted the people. Sanskrit dramas began to be translated into Malayalam and staged. Kerala Varma Koithampuran's translation of 'Sakunthala' were acted i n niany places. I t was followed b y 'Uttararama Charitra' and 'Janakeeparinaya' and others. But they were not able to survive long on the stage. Some say, it was due to the artificial­ ity of those dramas. But that does not seem to be correct. T h e fact is, those dramas were not written for the stage i n Kerala of' that period. N o one noticed the development of confiict be­ tween the form and content. Thus the drama itself appeared to be artificial. If the dramas of Sophocles, the Greek dramatist, are to be staged i n Coronation Theatre, you won't expect them to succeed. W h y , even if the dramas of Oscar W i l d e , who passed away only i n 1900, are to b e staged i n our town hall without bringing about some important alterations, there w i l l be some artificiality about them. Anyway, Sanskrit dramas never



took roots here. B y that time the T a m i l musical dramas (San­ geet natakas) came to the fore. Whatever shortcomings one may find i n them, only there could the common people reaUy enjoy a drama, if at aU they could be classified as dramas. A n d its influence i h Malayalam remained for long. Malayalam followed i n its footsteps. There'was a veritable flood of such dramas i n Malayalam and just as a flood, they receded to the backgroitnd also. It is meaningless to say that these dramas failed. They have never provided that sense of enjojonent which a drama w i l l or has to impart. T h e 'hero', the 'harmonist' and the 'court jesters' and all the other things only helped to give some entertainment value. ReaUy they were neither Sangeef-nataks nor Gadyanataks. In Sangeet-nataka, music is the most important. T h e theme is used only to properly co-ordinate and dramatise the songs. But, has there been such a drama i n M a l a y a l a m ? In Gadyanataks, the theme—the story is more important. The T a m i l Sangeet-natak which entered ouir soil as a sort of com­ mercial enterprise, tried to attract the music fans as weh as those interested i n the Gadya-natak. That is why they hired a story like 'Kannaki', weakened it with all the discourtesy of the inmates of a hired house, plugged i n some songs and trans­ formed it with an out and out commercial commodity. It was neither Gadyanatak or Sangeet-natak. It was strange amalgam. Mistaking this for some form of art, it was imitated i n Malaya­ l a m too. A n d , in the absence of any similar form of art, it managed to live on for some time. But gradually, to quote a friend, as the actors started "challenging even the domestic ani­ mals", the spectators withdrew. T H E A D V A N C E O F MALAYALAM STAGE


Despite the failure of their influences, Sanskrit and T a m i l inade one contribution: the necessity of stage. 'Janova' may be considered as the first dramatic stage. B u t it was confined only to the Southern parts of Kerala. It could not i n the least i n ­ fluence northern Kerala, especially Malabar. W h a t happened afterwards was the advent of certain H i n d i dramas. The H i n d i version of a Bengah drama by Dwijendralal and others came to the fore. Those dramas, produced on Sbakesperian lines did get good reception. Some may even now remember Sri M . P.



Bhattathiripad's "Shah • Jehan" and other dramas." Moreover, these dramas have created some good .at2tors-—Some of theih have^ died and some others, have fallen behind. A few remain even, today, who have shown the way forwai-d to:the next step. Nevertheless i t has given rise, to oiie miscoiiception fhiCt histori­ cal, dramas necessarily mean the story of Jlafpiits and Moghuls, as i f Kerala doe^ not have; a history of its^ownia :.. B y "this time, the influence of the national movement had spread tO;;all spheres of life. Dramas about; "Cheraman P e r u maFy !'Eazhassi-.Raia" and "Manaveda" etc. began to be staged: E v e n t h o u ^ these dramas dealt with the feudal, chieftains i n ­ stead of depicting the changes i n the natioiis hfe, even though ^ u i t e often they went against historical truth, nevertheless, they jWere, undoubtedly, a good beginning. The national'movement has made yet another contribution to , ^ e stage: pohtical dram'^s.- "Pathabakki" seems to be the first .aniong- them. It was followed by certain dramas of D e v . A l l jLte good as a beginning. B u t often enCugh, crude party politics •have throttled art. In spite of these shortcortiirigs, w e are dev.eloping i n this respect. Certain new dramas be'ar testimony to this fact. - . - •• .' ' • ' In Malabar, social draiftas have grown on account of the at­ tempts of the Namboodiris for sociah reforms. Sri "V. T . Bhattathiripad's "Emancipation from the Kitchen" is a mile-stone. It evoked a storm i n the society. . . It was followed b y other dra­ mas. 'Rithumathi' (Virgin) is the most outstanding among them'. Though its theme is about the life of the Namboodiris, it w i l l touch the heart of any spectator. The' staging of "Rithumathi" itself has been a loud proclamation that the Malayalam stage is advancing. It was followed b y smaller social dramas, many of which failed. l i i the niearitinie, there appeared S r i N . Krishna Pillai's powerful dramas like "Bhagnabhavan", 'Kanyaka' etc. but they were little known i n Malabar'. O n l y recently they have started entering the stage i n Malabar.- Then came the profound •aiid dynamic drama: of C . T . Thoihas "He comes again". I have not seen it acted. B u t I feel, it is something that can'be superbly Staged. "Collective Farming"* is i n Malabar almost a move-rhent.: , ' " Thus, the stage in Malabar is definitely forging ahead? There are so many hurdles before the dramatic' stage today: J^aVitctiv!^- Farming" js-j-ai drama that h&s..:alrfea(fy;spreadI'tj^^



many towns and villages i n Malabar almost as a movement? A l l these dramas are advancing, never going back. P. C .


"(Translated from the original Malayalam by K. 'G.?



: fUmr^:-Efeee^b'^ 1Ǥ3'



• ••


r. '



'" : •; " .' ;

T h e prosecution of four leading members of the Indian Peo­ ple's Theatre Association (IPTA) i n Lucknow—Mrs. Razia Sajjafi Zaheer, Amritlal Nagar, Babulal Verma and G o k u L C h a n d Rastogi-T-under the; hated Dramatic-Performances A c t which the British imperialists imposed on our country, inT876, is not only an attack against I P T A , but an attempt to, stifle the growth of the movement for the development of people's art and for win­ ning people's rights, says Sri Niranjan Sen, General Secretary ofr the I P T A , i n a staternent to the Press. - , . . T h e Govemment of Uttar Pradesh has thrown a chaUenge not only to the art world of the U . P . but to that of the whole of India, says the statement. In A p r i l last, A e Seventh AU-India Conference of the I P T A h a d rightly passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal ^bf this hated Act. Sri Niranjan Sen has appealed to "all artists, writers and their organisations to voice their anger against this attempt to 'hand­ cuff' our culture and force the Government to withdraw this Act. " A l l the units of the I P T A must immediately issue statements and mobUise support from prominent artists, writers and art organisations, they must launch a movement against these attacks. "I appeal to the people and democratic organisations to see that the Government is forced to remove instantly these 'hand­ cuffs". News is to hand that the discredited Congress Govemment of Travancore-Cochin has, by a notification, empowered the Dis­ trict Magistrates of Trivandrum, Quilon and Kottayam to ex-




ercise within their respective districts the powers conferred on Government b y Section 2 of the Travancore Dramatic Perfor­ mances Act, to prohibit dramatic performances of a "scandalous or defamatory nature and performances which are likely to ex­ cite disaffection against the Goveinment or deprave or corrupt persons who see the performances." Similarly, the District Magistrate, Trichur, has been empower­ ed to exercise the above powers within the taluks of Kunnatiiunad and Parur i n Trichur District. W h e n the legal c^ap-trap is removed, this just means that certain District Magistrates can i n future act like little McCarthys and do anything they Hke. The District Magistrate of Kottayam has issued an order banning the staging of the play Sons of Revolution, a musical drama written b y Sri P. J . Anthony. The Travancore-Cochin Government d i d not like the play You made Me a Communist because the play went straight to the hearts of those who saw it and showed them the present corrupt social system. So the play was banned b y a District Magistrate. A n appeal was taken to the H i g h C o m t and the District Magistrate's ban order was declared void. The Government's new order is obviously meant to b y pass this judgement. A n d at this time when You made Me a Communist has again begun to be staged and is drawing huge crowds, the troupe is being invited to stage the drama at different places and they are booked for the next two months. It is against such popular dramas and the growing cultural movement of the people that the Government has now started its attack and appointed pohce officials, to sit i n judgement over them. But there is no doubt that the people of Travancore-CoChin are capable of fighting back and w i h fight back the McCarthy bans. Representatives of about fifty Theatre-organisations and a number of individual i n Theatre movement met recently i n Calcutta at 25, D i x o n L a n e to work out ways and means to launch a United movement aainst the 1976 A c t and entertain­ ment tax and to concretise other demands based on IPTA's Charter of Demands, essential for developing theatre movement here. Sree Narayan GanguH presided over the meeting. A n



Organising Committee has been formed to draft a programme and a constitution so that a gigantic united movement can be developed i n Calcutta immediately.



Abad—A new production b y South Calcutta I.P.T.A. Drama­ tist and Director—Gobinda Chakraborty, Story: Narayan Ganguh. I.P.T.A.'s receiit drama, Abad has met with mixed reception. It has been always found that their team work is superb, but the story fails to maintain lingering impressions on the peoples' minds. W h y ? - Because so far powerful dramatists have not come forward to back this splendid team of realistic players who are imbued with the idea as they are—of peoples' culture and talent and have introduced realistic acting to the Bengali stage. But excepting Ndbanna, no drama has yet met this requirement. Now, the drama under review, was based on a story written by Narayan Ganguly. In order to fill i n the vacuum a small story has been expanded into a drama. That is why i n many crucial points its dramaturgy has suffered stagnation. More so, the adaptation of the flash back technique i n this drama seems to be quite unjustified and iU-conceived. The drama should not have begun from the end when there is no interesting unfolding. It cripples interest of the play. The story moves round a farmer Paran Mandal who reclaimed lands by cutting jungles and kflhng tigers and reptiles i n his youthful days and arranged settlements of so many families there, suddenly became a refugee due to partition losing all his worldly goods and aU dear and near ones. In a refugee colony Paran found two reptiles i n fhe persons of two clerks of the Rehabihtation Department who carried on trade i n refugee workmen—^finally to bring justice Paran murdered them and was prosecuted as murderer. The drama started from the C o u r t scene. Reclamation reclamation of cratic system. come vile for

of land means Abad i n Bengah but there is no humanity by killing two small pigmies of bureau­ They are also victims of the circumstances, be­ their o w n existence, for a morsel of food. So,



the drama has, no "higher ideals or pvurposes. It is just a murder story yvhere both hero and villains deserve our sympathy if the play undergoes a scientific analysis. I have already said about the team work of I.P.T.A. A l l of them have carried out nicely except a new comer i n the role of Suhash. I hope he M i l soon" fall into line. Sri Govinda Chakraborty the dramatist as Paran M a n d a l has hved i n the j^ale; S r i .J'nShSish Mukherjee as Juran has convinced me that no peasant J s .a better peasant than h i m . Sm. Nivedita Das has maintained her reputation i n the role of Karabi, daughter of a school teacher whose three sons were killed i n the communal riot. Nivedita was shaky i n the first scene but soon regained her J)oise and confidence. I ani hopeful about Sri Bifesh Mukherjee, a new comer. H e justified his inclusion. Acting of Sri B i r u Alukherje# as P u b l i c Prosecutor is oiitstanding—he deserves con^atulatioiis. W e want better plays from I.P.T.A. with higher dramatic appeal and based oh more poignant and social issues. r "•,


: ] "'

Sachi Sen M a z u m d e r ,

I.P.T.A. N E W S , ,



South Indian Tour by, I P T A Troupes. Cultural troupes from, different provinces w i l l tour for 20 days fronii 15th January 1954 i n different parts of South India accord­ ing to the proposal made b y Director M r . K . Subramanyam during the 7th A U India Conference. The preparations" for this tbur Are afoot i h different provinces. Assam



'"Silchar Uiiit staged a drama "Bastu V i t a " songs and dances ©rirthe 4th and 5tli September. The performances cteated a stir among the population of this mofussil town. These perforinances werie staged i n aid of the towii high sChodl. Prepara­ tions are going on to hold the district conference. Classes are being run for songs, dramas etc. Tezpur branch of I P T A has been formed recently with Sree Bishnu Rava—the famous artist of Assam as the President. Sree D i h p Sharma—the well known singer of Assam who has just returned from China is touring different parts of Assam.



Sree Nagen Kakati, the Jt. Secretary of the Provincial branch i& also accompanying h i m . A unit has been formed at D h u b r i after a grand performance by Gauhati Peoples Theatre artistes arid Mantoo Ghosh of Calcutta. -- , 4 Bengal


" I P T A gave a hearty reception to Sree Sachin Sen Ghpta^ the President of Provincial Branch and Sree Debabrata Biswas, the President of Calcutta Branch of I P T A , who had just returned frorfi People's China. Sree Niren R o y presided over the function. O n 3rd December, Provincial and Calcutta branch gave a hearty reception to the great classical singer Sreemati. Hirabai Bafodkar arid to the famous music director A n i l Biswas. Sree Sachin Sen" Gupta, pi-esided and Debabrata Biswas was the chief guest. South Calcutta Unit staged successfully 'Abad'—a fuU length drama b y Sree Govinda Chakravarty based on a story b y Sree Narayan Ganguh. Central Calcutta Unit staged a poster-play on the gigantic food-movement sweeping the whole province. The poster-play is by Purnendu Paul and it has been staged during aU the massrallies held i n this period. D u r i n g p u r g a Puja and D i w a h festival, I P T A squads i n C a l ­ cutta and other districts staged performances every evening b y invitation from local, people. Central Howrah Unit held its local conference from 2nd to 25th October having cultural performances i n the evening. Naihati Unit held its local conference i n the 2nd week of October. T h e conference evenings had successful cultural per­ formances.. Sankrail Thana Unit (Howrah) held its Conference recently at Aiidul. P.A.C. of Asansol (branch of I P T A ) organised 3 shows where Omar Sheikh of Maharashtra Unit, Debabrata Biswas, Sandwip Sanyal and I P T A squad from Calcutta participated. The Asansol Unit staged dance, drama and songs on the 23rd September before nearly 5,000 people at Maithon. The drama was the H i n d i Version of a Bengali drama 'Luth-taraj' on the life and struggles of the workers.



Uttar Pradesh Aligarh Unit staged after a long time a successful show of drama and songs. Agra Unit observed T u l s h i Jayanti' by staging a drama on the life and works of Tulshidas by D r . Rambilash Sharma. Meerut Unit is staging a variety show i n aid of the flood-relief fund. Agra, Meerut and Aligarh Units celebrated the Prem C h a n d day by staging dramas by Prem C h a n d and patriotic songs. Bombay O n 27th September a grand reception was given to the makers of "Do Bigha Zamin" and "Rahi" by the Bombay C i t y Unit and Maharashtra Unit. A n address was presented to Sri B i m a l R o y and M r . K . A . Abbas seperately who were present along with their teams on this occassion and I P T A songs were sung before the gathering. Rajasthan The squad went to Alwar to stage a playlet and songs. This enthused the audience and the local artists. A progressive cul­ tural unit has been formed i n Alwar. Kerala A l l Kerala D r a m a Festival held with success where fourteen dramas were sent for the Festival out of which 7 dramas were selected and staged by difi^erent cultural organisations. D u r i n g the festival, representatives of all K a l a Samities i n Kerala met to discuss and to take up plans to co-ordinate and consolidate these Kala Samities on provincial basis. The K P A C cultural squad is touring different parts of Kerala since the last one month staging performances nearly every evening. Andhra A co-ordinating team has been formed at a meeting of the representatives of innumerable cultural organisations staging songs, drama, Burra Katha etc. to co-ordinate these squads and to call a convention to form Provincial I P T A . A C H I N E S E D E L E G A T I O N IN INDIA

A cultural delegation from C h i n a has arrived of late i n India on a goodwill mission. W e extended to them a hearty welcome and our thankfulness.




A hearty reception was accorded to D r . J A G A N and M R . B U R N H A M on 6th December at 46, DharamtoUa Street, on behalf of AU-India Peace Council, I.P.T.A., P . W . A . and UNITY. Unity, 'December 1953.


B R I E F A C C O U N T O F I P T A S I N C E A . I. C O N F E R E N C E

It is just over a year since the last A . I. I P T A Conference was held at Bombay. T h e Conference was a historic one due to tbree major factors: (1) After a long time and i n the midst of utter confusion aU over India, this Conference produced an objective Manifesto enabling to unify the entire membership. (2) F o r tiie first time, a Charter of Demands was firamed so that I P T A could initiate a united movement of a l l sections of artistes a n d art organisations to realise the demands of the entire art world essential for the healthy growth of the theatie move­ ment i n India. (3) After a long gap, during which definite changes took place i n the world and i n India i n different aspects of life of the people, I P T A artistes' got together with their experiences, achievements and failures. (4) The productions, the mirror of our movement, were staged before the members of I P T A , sympathisers, art critics and people i n general so that t h e achievements, shortcomings, etc., could be judged i n practice i f the movement was to b e rebuilt on the basis of the discussions that took place and the decisions arrived at during the Conference. (5) T h e misunderstandings, doubts and isolation bred during the last few years were dispeUed to a great extent, creating the ground for developing I P T A into a broad national organisation. (6) It" had for the first time given a new organisational lead based on the new situation arising out of a tiemendous growth of a mass cultural movement along with the sweep i n tbe massmovements i n India, so that I P T A organisations could reflect and represent this gigantic cultural movement. (7) Lastly, the delegates and visitors left Bombay equipped with aU discussions and decisions to help them i n day-to-day




work to remould I P T A towards a proper direction and to rootout the short-coming manifested speciaUy through the ,stage - ^ ^ e 'final- cuhnfnatidn of our movement. The Gpnferenceinstilled confidence and inspiration among the rnembers, re-; inoving confusions and making them conscious of their serious responsibilities. , ., Before I go on to narrate how far i n this one year I P T A i n diiferent provinces could put these decisions into practice; I must say-a few "SvotdS o'n-the back ground i n which the pro­ vinces were to put these into practice so that a sober and objec­ tive. assessment^m'ay'Ke.made b y our meiiibers'.and readers. , Thotigh tire Vlji A . - I ; Conference provided tiemendous op: portunity and scope to get clear about the role of I P T A , and t h o u g h i t equipped" mernbers with experience, documents and instructions, it was not easy to apply these imrhediately i n the provinces and to re-organise with a new outiodk; breaking through the past methods of work. A n unprecedented growth in the movement togetiier with much organisational chaos, de­ mands for more and more good'productions, the lack of a disciphned spirit and an acute economic crisis was the state amidst which the delegates went to Bombay and came back with a lead to tackle the situation. Further, the national and international situation and its effect i n the cultural field were fast changing. T h e war-maniacs were becoming more menac­ ing and the issue of peace was getting an emergent one. The mass struggle took a gigantic shape i i i different provinces, the demand for^ good, healthy dramas and songs was increasing everyday, cultural units were springing up i n number not only in" urban areas but also i n rural arid working-class areas, demanding a lead from I P T A . The Government launched a cultural plan—a swing froiri negative attitude of repression to a positive attitude" of entering Into the ciiltural field with its ideology and programme. Iiripefiahsiri concentiated its' offen­ sive through its agencies i n "a new garb i n the cultural filed. ' A l o n g w i t h this, an urge for a united rnoveriient on differient issues b y art organisations and'artistes of different shades of opinion was gradually beirig felt.' As the previously mentioned subjective conditions of I P T A of fhe pre-Confererice period, were linked with these new objec­ tive conditions, I P T A members h^d to apply their new under­ standing and work but a plan and programme accordingly ahd



perfprm a miracle which was riot ah impossijaihty. Rather the facts and figures i n short given below keeping i n m i n d this back­ ground w i l l help us; i n assessing our achievements and failures inspiring and driving us on to newer activities and greater • ; ; _ • ' ; ; ' Popularising, the new JSIarufesio




, The new Manifesto, decisions o f different commissions and other resolution's, were-discussed among the members knd pubhcised among other organisations and individuals. The West Bengal Branch brought out a pamphlet i n Bengah for wide circulation. Translation i n H i n d i , Assamese and Punjabi were also published. In every province attempts were made to dis­ cuss the main imphcations cof thisse declsibns aihong the meni^ bers of the primary units and d i n i n g the cOhfelehces o f t?l^ local units. U N I T Y , the cultural organ, pubhshed these mate­ rials and printed a number of "articles to elaborate and explain 4:he decisions of the Conference. I n Hajasthan, a campaign was launched against an increase in entertainment tax and Govern­ ment was forced to retreat. In this period, though not i n "so much of an orga'nised ahd conscious manner, all the provinces tried to" organise study circles, popular lectiires a n d discussions" for menibers so that the I P T A could be'eqiilpped w i t h the'hew'outlook and educat­ ed in; different aspects of the I P T A movement. This is the new feature ; at least die conscious reahsation of the need of educat­ ing the members was felt to the maximum i n this period. Joint Activities

M^ith otiwr


Units o^f I P T A ' i n aU die "provlnees: took steps to broaden its base by joint activities w i t h other organisations and individuals in this period as weU as attenipts to dra\v rhore and more organiSatioris and' Individuals to I P T A . In Assam, I P T A took the initiative to draw the majority of artistes and organisations to form a committee 'to observe the birth anniversary of Jyoti­ prasad" Agarwala, the celebrated artiste i n Assamese literature and-to commemorate the b i r t h anniversary of Sharikar D e v b l Assam. These moves were taken i n aU the districts where I P T A units exist. A number of prbihinent artistes l i k e ' ' D n Bhugen Hazarika,'Bishnu "Rava, Brajen Barua and D i h p Sharma, "actively pefrticipaled h i - I P T A activities;, /. . .v.'.. • > r.::




In West Bengal, difFerent districts, i n observing the birth and death.anniversaries of great figures of the art world, mobilised other organisations i n each area. O n the Charter of Demands, a. movement on a different scale was initiated i n various districts, drawing number of art organisations and artistes as all were affected b y censorships, bans, etc. In Calcutta, an organisation has come into existence com­ prising a number of organisations including I P T A , to fight for further demands of artistes and the art-world on the basis of Charter of Demands of I P T A . Recently, i n 24-Parganas, all the groups of Gazan (a popular folk-form) performing i n the areas of Sonarpur, were mobihsed i n a committee to hold a festival at the initiative of I P T A . These united moves were frequent i n the suburbs of Calcutta, viz., Belghuria, Howrah, 24-Parganas, etc. In Uttar Pradesh, the Agra U n i t has forged links with other organisations and individuals to b u i l d a public stage there. The Meerut U n i t has drawn all the reputed artistes and organisa­ tions of the city towards I P T A . W h e n the artistes of L u c k n o w I P T A were arrested under the 1876 Act, a united movement was launched by I P T A all over India against this gross injustice. In Kerala a huge festival with fhe participation of a large number of dramatic groups was organised at the initiative of I P T A organisers at Malabar. This laid the basis for mobihsing innumerable members of Kala Mandals spread over the whole T. C . State, (now Kerala). These are a few significant examples among innumerable ones i n all the provinces to show a new characteristic of the I P T A movement i n this period, though these are not at aU suffi­ cient i n comparison to the tremendous urge for unity. Art Productions

in this Period

This aspect is the most significant one to judge how far we have advanced. In Assam, only during the last six months, more than a dozen songs which are most popular, have been further popularised. The songs i n Gurkhali on peace b y Prem Singh are also very powerful and popular. Some of the dramas like Tufan (on tea-garden labourers) and Pohalai (Towards Light) have created landmarks i n the dramatic tradition of Assam. A peace drama Golika Nishan b y



the Gorlchah (Nepalese) unit was also effective. T h e Assam Branch tiU now was not strong i n the dramatic section, but during this one year more than six dramas, Moritten locally, have been staged w i l i i great success. ; The dance-drama on the U.S.-Pak Pact by the Silchar unit was most timely and was appreciated by audiences numbering thousands. ' , A shadow play on the life of Shankar Dev, a medieval saint and social reformer of Assani, added to the glory of the I P T A movement i n Assam. In West Bengal, all the units i n different districts were heavily booked with programmes of this nature. These units have their own composers and dramatists. Many folk-artistes w i t h power­ ful folk-forms like Tarja, Gambhira, Gazan and Jatra, have been drawn inside I P T A units i n different locahties. In Calcutta itself about 12 dramas including six poster-dramas based on day-to-day problems and struggles have been staged in the last two years. Ajkal, a new drama has been staged for nearly 60 nights already. These dramas include those of Tagore's and others on the present social lives and struggles of the people. More than 50 new songs have been popularised i n this period. A Jatra (traditional drama form of Bengal) has been completed. A ballet troupe built-up i n this period is becoming more popular and powerful everyday. A full-length ballet, O ! the Great Life, has been composed and staged. In the ten months tiU February last, the Calcutta U n i t staged 230 shows witnessed b y approximately 17,50,000 people of ah sections. M a n y I P T A songs have been recorded b y H . M . V . In Bihar, the Jamshedpur U n i t has brought vwthin their fold the powerful traditional folk dancers of "Chhau." Deoghar U n i t has staged new dramas i n Bengah and H i n d i . Patna U n i t has composed new dances and a number of songs based on the popular folk tunes of Bihar with the help of Sreemati Bindhya Bashini D e v i , known popularly as the 'mother of folk songs.' D u r i n g the anti-canal movement, a number of songs were vwitten giving an inspiration to the struggle. In Uttar Pradesh, the Agra U n i t produced Premchand's 'Kaffan' and Krishan Chander's 'NilkanthV Members wrote and composed a number of songs. They also produced a drama on Tulsidas by D r . Rambilas Sharma. The Meerut U n i t staged shadow plays with great success in aid of the flood rehef fund.




The Lucknow. U n i t staged foiu- dramas during this period ej^perirnenting w i t i i - n e w ^techniques. Large numbers of popular %).lk -artistes'have joiped i P T A i n Uttar Pradesh. H o h dances based on the traditional folk form of''Brij, have become very popular.' ' Z •: '\ • " : ' ".'' : " r r -' ' In: Rajasthan, I P T A i n e m b e i i c o n c e r i & a t ^ S i e i f effi maihly to take up the varied and wonderful folk tunes of Rajasthan. I n M a d h y a Pradesh, the Indore U n i t staged two dramas, one grr. Peace] and -the p A e r based b a a novel b y Prem Chand. ' In Punjab, along with a number of very popular songs on peace based-, on" traditional folk form's, three operas were pro­ duced, viz., ImrmntarPunjab, Sazdsh (Conspiracy) on the U . S . Pak Pact and-Hamerf. ' ' ' ' J - I n ' B o m b a y ; after a loiig time, a fhU length drama on the middle class, Babu; has been prbduoed. "The t J n i t also produced three one-act' plays.' A number of po-werful and popular songs i n H i n d i , tuned b y K a n u Ghosh; have beeii written b y meirijiirs. Some of the songs have been recorded b y Columbia. ' ' > I n Gujarat, i n four months they produced three dramas includ­ i n g one on Peace by Jaswant TlTaMkar and these have been stiaged' ifi varioffs" -cerftres" o'f M a h a "Gujarat. I n Ahmedabad; the U r u f has" btiiit £ ftibbilesfage; " • ^ III TraV'fecore^o''chan,' ' ^ e f e the unit -lias cbmpfeted'the S S l s t ' n i g h t ' d f ' the 'drama; ' ' T o u M e a 'Comniunist," a number of organisations have b e e n ' b u i l t t i p - i h fliis period, stagiiig new dramas two o f which have be'come "very popular. Some 14 I P T A songs have also beeii recorded b y ' H . M . V . A new dance group under' fhe direction of Ganga Dhafaii has been formed. The popularity o f the main troupe may be judged by the fact that they have been able to purchase a motor vaii to facihtate their taking the drama to all parts of their province. These are a few among the innumerable new productions ini difFerent provinces covering laMis of people iri to-vms, arid v i l l ­ ages though they are hot at all sufficient to meet the thirst of 6ur 'peo'ple" for good arid"healthy dramas, songs; daiices,"etc. D u r i n g this year f&emes of cultural' items ranged froffl" the theme of Tulsidas and dramas of Tag&re and Preinchari'd'to the theme o f ' T r a m w a y ' Strike an'd recent'tT.S;-Pak" Pact- and ari honest effoft arid conscious attempt have "beefl'done to get these items w e l l ' rehearse'd ' and technically" as p'erfect as' possible; feiiibers of'all'lfe^hnft^^^^^ "


New Expansion and Other



In short, it can be said that i n all the provinces, I P T A has been formed i n new districts and more units among peasantry and working-class have come into existence, viz., i n Bengal, Bihar, Kerala, Assam, etc. N e w units have been established among hiU tribes and adibasis, viz., Manipuri, Santhals, Nepah tea garden labourers, Bodo, etc., i n Assam, Bengal, Bihar. N e w units are spontaneously coming into existence so fast that many provinces cannot centrally control or guide them. In Tripura I P T A units are coming into existence. In Orissa new efforts have been made to revitalise I P T A . The expansion of cultural movement within last six months i n Kerala has sur­ passed imagination. In this period I P T A units i n different provinces have observed the birth or death anniversaries of the great artistes and writers of the province or on the national and international plane i n a more organised manner. I P T A artistes have participated i n different festivals, etc., sponsored by others, viz., i n the folk-art festival and Sanjukta Natya Parishad of Bengal, Natya-Mahotsab of Maharashtra, All-Assam M u s i c Competition of Assam, Drama Festival of Malabar, Conference of Andhra Theatre Federation, AU-India Folk-Dance and Song Festival at Madras, etc. In most of the provinces, song-books, drama books and pam­ phlets of manifesto have been published and they have been sold i n large numbers. Just to cite an example i n TravancoreCochin State 70,000 copies of song books have been sold i n the last few months—an average of 5,000 copies a month. Unity, the central organ ha.s been published inspite of great odds and its popularity has increased. Some Main


In spite of these achievements and growth of influence of I P T A , the foUovwng shortcomings among many others are retarding its full development and prevent it from executing its role i n this period of mass cultural upsurge; basically, I P T A activities are still continuing on spontaneity. (1) N e w artistes and talents are joining I P T A but proper plan­ ning is not made to educate the enthe membership i n the pohcy and spirit of I P T A to enable them to take up the ever increas14




ing responsibilities of I P T A . N o conscious efforts are made to absorb these artistes. Education on different aspects of cultural movement, art production, etc., is not yet taken up seriously without which no conscious participation by the entire membership is possible. Without this education no organised and systematic and con­ scious working are possible i n this period. Research and study of traditional art forms, our own heritage, is not yet done so that our writers, artistes and members can learn and get inspired. Healthy discussions on art productions, cultural problems, etc. are not organised. (2) IPTA's problem is mainly a problem of growth—a prob­ lem of organised collective leadership and functioning, a prob­ lem of correct appliance of IPTA's manifesto and other resolu­ tions i n the specific condition of each province. I P T A is not yet i n a position to tackle these problems i n a determined way. (3) I P T A has expanded but not yet deepened, grown quanti­ tatively but not yet qualitatively. T h e degree varies from pro­ vince to province depending on the objective conditions prevail­ i n g there. (4) Though there are great demands from peasant belts, hiUs and working-class areas to form their own units of I P T A , and actually they are forming units spontaneously, yet no conscious effort is yet made to help i n developing those units i n an organ­ ised manner and on a concrete plan. (5) N o organised efforts are made to popularise the 'Charter of Demands' and launch a united movement. (6) Regarding productions, though attempts are made to take the productions i n this period seriously, to rehearse well, to achieve technical perfection and to arrange previews to judge it beforehand, yet the quality of production is taken care of only partially i n so far as good acting and direction, a wellequipped stage, light arrangements, etc., are concerned. T h e dramas, songs, etc., however, are lacking i n content and not yet able to portray the hves of the different sections of our people with insight. The attention given to acting, direction, etc., is also not very serious. A number of new writers are coming up from urban and rural areas but no proper attention is paid to improve their writings and help them to develop. (7) Though i n this period folk artistes and folk forms have come into the field of I P T A , no conscious efforts are being as



yet made to, w i n over these artistes as conscious participants in I P T A and to popularise and revitalise pur powerful, popular traditional folk forms. Conclusions F r o m this bird's eye view of the activities of I P T A for the last one year, taking all provinces and all factors as a whole, i t should be clear that there is no place for the cynical feehng of "nothing has been achieved" while equally there is no ground either for complacency. Rather it is high time that all the members of I P T A , specially the tried veterans, shook them­ selves up to close their ranks as to-day a great deal remains undone. I P T A must take itself to the villages and the factories nsing the forms with which the people are acquainted and which they love. I P T A must draw to itself ever newer sections of the people and artistes. I P T A must inspire the people and entire art world by its art productions, new and living dramas, songs, dances, etc. and new forms and thus mobilise and unify the entire world of theatre arts of both the rural and urban areas. W e must root out spontaneity and lethargy and make con­ scious efforts to stop lagging behind the times. L e t this year be an year of advance towards realisation of the key points of our manifesto and truly become a national organisation, i n the service of our great people and art, breaking through the old worn-out methods of functioning during this new period of cul­ tural upsurge, guided by the decisions of the last AU-India Committee Meeting. The preparations for the provincial con­ ferences must be planned and looked at from this point of view so that we can get r i d of our short-comings and march on from success to success, true to our people and their art. Niranjan Sen UnUy, July 1954 S A V E R U P M A H A L ARTISTES' ASSOCIATION

W i t h a decree against them of Rs. 1 lakh, Manipur's premier dramatic institution, The Rupmahal Artistes' Association, is now facing extinction failing the collection of at least Re. 50,000/-,




the sum for which die decree holder has agreed to settle the case. This is disclosed i n a letter addressed b y Sri Mahendra Sarma, Chairman of the Rupmahal Artistes' Association to Sri Sachin Sen Gupta, the noted Bengali dramatist and leader of the recent cultural delegation to China. Sri Sharma says that though several appeals were made the generous public who contributed so freely i n the past, could not give any more help as they are having a hard time themselves for the last three years and the box ofBce sales have also fallen so l o w that the institution is now ruiming at a loss. H e adds that the artistes, who so long nourished this institiition by un­ told sacrifices find it impossible to carry on any longer and says : ' T h i s sad story is related to you simply because you, as an ardent worker i n the field of drama w i h , no doubt, sympathise with our cause." T o help lovers of drama outside Manipur to realise what is at stake, it may be helpful to state here a few facts about this am­ azing dramatic organisation, built with the toil and heart's blood of Manipuri artistes. T h e Rupmahal Artistes Association was started i n the year 1943 with five artistes as founder members. I n the year 1948 it was registered as a private limited concern the share-holders being mostly artistes with a few others, who though not artistes, are lovers of art. T h e Association has its own theatie hall which is a unique feature of this Association unequaUed perhaps b y any other artistes' association i n India, outside Manipur. This has been made possible only by the everincreasing sacrifice of the artistes themselves and the gene­ rous help of the drama minded public. Since its inception, the Association has to its credit the pro­ duction of 49 full length dramas of which 19 are the transla­ tions of well known Bengali dramas and the rest original works i n Manipuri. It is diis Association which is fostering a national consciousness and anti-imperialism through dieir dramas. Their outstanding production is based on the hfe of Tikendrajit, the brave Manipuri Warrior of the last century executed by British imperialists. This full length drama is Manipur's most beloved drama and has uptil now been played i n Rupmahal to packed houses for a total of 55 nights. Such an Association, which has within its folds some of the best plajrwrights, actors, dancers and musicians i n Manipur, is now faced with the prospect of extinction unless Rs. 50,000/- is



found and that without delay. Their haU, which is the best i n Manipur, is aheady let out to a cinema company for ah the days of the week excepting one. If some w a y cannot be found to raise this Rs. 50,000/- then the hall w i l l go completely out of the hands of the Association and it wiU virtually cease function­ ing. If the Government's professions of sympathy for cultural workers has any meaning, i t must come forward to help this premier dramatic organisation of Manipur before it is too late. Hemango Biswas Unitt/, July 1954

Release Ramesh SU Ramesh Sil, noted exponent of the folk art of " K a b i G a n " has been arrested b y the Eastern Pakistan Govemment from his home i n Chittagong. This veteran folk-artiste, the father of the folk form i n contemporary Bengal, known lovingly as "Kabial" b y his innumerable friends and admirers i n Pakistan and Hindustan, was 71 at the time of his arrest. This arrest is sym­ bolic of the heavy hand with which the Govemor's Rule i n East Pakistan is coming down on a l l peoples' movements there. I P T A raises its voice of protest against the arrest and calls for his immediate release. Withdraw

Ban on Kenya Songs

The British imperialists i n Kenya, not content with murder­ ing people i n thousands, have now tumed their attention towards throttling their culture. "Song of the Motherland", and another song i n praise of the heroes of M a u M a n Movement, which could not be recorded i n Africa, were recorded b y a Gramaphone Company i n Bombay. But the entry of tliese two songs has been banned b y tire Kenya Govemment. I P T A raises its protest against this attempt to suppress the culture of the people of Kenya and demands withdrawal of the ban. Unity, July 1954

IPTA Activities

in Maha


D u r i n g March and A p r i l the Ahmedabad I P T A has done work which is almost impossible for any amateiu: artistes' group. I P T A has deep roots i n Ahmedabad and its influence has spread over many centres. F r o m Kannagar to Surat, the banner of




I P T A has flown again and again carrying the message of the people's drama of the futm-e to our people and our artistes. The artistes who work i n the Ahmedabad organisation are familiar with the tradition of I P T A . So hard work comes to them naturally. N o one gets a pay. A U are engaged i n one or other occupation to earn their livelihood. B u t they are giving as much service as they can through their artistic talents. T o go round other centres becomes extremely difficult for them. Still, when it is necessary, they give up their daily work, suffer loss of income and get ready to tour distant places. The Ahmedabad I P T A went to N a d i a d and performed the peace play "Maji N u Mandir" (Temple of the Mother) with the help of the local organisation there. F r o m there tliey went to Baroda and performed the same play at the Peace Conference held there. Thence they went to Kanpur to perform the play on the occasion of the Co-operative Golden Jubilee. T w o per­ formances of "Gam N o Choro" (The vUlage square) were given i n Ahmedabad. About the same time "Hutashani" by Prof. Ramesh Jani and Poet Sundaram's Gujarati translation . . . of a Sanskrit comedy were also performed. That was followed b y a performance of "Amar Smarak" (Immortal Memorial) written by Girish Bhachech. Then the new Open A i r Theatre built b y Ahmedabad Municipality was inaugurated b y perform­ ing "Bhagvad Jukiya." Thus after touring some parts of Gujarat, programmes were given in, Ahmedabad. N o w the Ahmedabad branch is consider­ ing a new plan which is bound to have considerable influence on the entire future of the Gujarati stage. The I P T A is neither a professional nor an amateur Drama Company. Its aim is to arouse the cultural talents of the people of M a h a Gujarat. It works to establish a theatre with truly pro­ gressive and realistic cultural values i n place of the jaded and degenerated professional theatrical business. This required patient ground work. A n y idea that b y waving a magic wand we can compare or compete with plays whose tickets are sold for thousands of rupees cannot enter—cannot be allowed to enter the activity of I P T A . As i n aU revolutionary activity so i n this movement too there are enthusiastic, self-sacrificing workers. T o young and old, men and women, it shows the way to creation of a realistic art, through experiments i n such art, it demonstrates possibilities of its achievements and tries to make



of it a day-to-day activity as far as possible. W e have to arouse the determination to create a new drama throughout Gujarat. In this compromises are possible on some questions but not on others. I P T A is clear on what should be presented i n a drama. H o w to present it is a matter subject to experiment and dev.elopment. Wherever the content of drama deals -with questions of the people's life, there the contradiction between form and content disappears. T h e unity of dramatic and popular elements of the theatre can and is easily achieved i n a people's theatre. People's theatre activities are at present spreading i n Gujarat. They are developing i n Surat, Baroda, Nadiad, Rajkot and Bhavnagar. It is learnt from Sri Indulal Yagnik that activity has also started i n the Kisan Sabha bases. I n working class cen­ tres Workers' Cultural Groups are developing. Out of a moun­ tain of potentialities the movement is taking a definite shape. Everywhere this movement must be given form and I P T A branches formed. In some places, elements may come forward from existing local drama groups to take up this activity and show a new path to place the local dramatic movement on its feet. In another place, such local dramatic circles may be completely transform­ ed. I n still another place absolutely new, rising artistes may sit down together with veterans, understand the o l d and newphases of the theatre and start a dramatic movement. Where such new drama groups are not possible, song squads may be formed; four or five artistes who can sing can go among the people with their songs, present their art under the auspices of the local people's organisations, develop themselves and show others the way to develop. The I P T A is not only a dramatic group but an organisation to develop all the theatre arts. A b i g play, b i g stage, big hall, ticket pushing with its profit and loss, all this is harmful for a movement which is just begining. The activity of I P T A w i l l be judged by the eagerness of artistes, irrespective of intellectual differences, to serve the people. They must seriously take up study of the theatre movement. Starting with one song squad, Bengal to-day has hundreds of branches which perform plays. Drama companies, Bhavai Mandali, Bhajan singers, stray artistes,—all these artistes of different classes and levels must be brought closer to the people's movement and helped to combine their cultural activity with



this movement. It is the duty of the conscious workers' and peasants' movement, the progressive pohtical and national movements, to draw people's artists into these movements. B y December, we must hold a conference of all workers of the people's theatre movement i n M a h a Gujarat. Before that a main I P T A branch must be established i n each District Centre. This is a task also for the workers i n the people's movements. I n some places, the artistes themselves come forward and start w o r k ; i n others they have to be shown the way out of old ruts. T h e result i n both cases is the same. Ahmedabad has made a new plan. A mobile theatre: a por­ table stage (20X 30 ft. or smaller) which can be easily dismantled and a squad of local artistes, who with one or two short plays can tour the localities where people live and inspire them with a new vision and enthusiasm. Patient and painstaking work of this kind for two or three years is bound to give the necessary result. In this way pure cultural activity can be possible, free of the octopus grip of terribly high hall rents, entertainment tax, advertisement expenses, etc. To act a play i n a hall or thea­ tre would cost Rs. 400/- to Rs. 700/-. Instead of laying out money on this, if the same amount raised as a fund through effort and propaganda, a small stage made and plays acted i n all places, the artistes' contact with the people w o u l d develop and a full idea would be obtained of the power of the drama. Is I P T A professional or amateur ? This question is often asked. The question has become more prevalent sonce the estabhshment of a theatrical organisation of a semi-professional character named "Nata Mandal" i n Ahmedabad. A discussion of the theoretical basis of "Nata Mandal" is out of place here. We are certainly deeply interested i n its development as we are about every other theatrical or cultural organisation, but we must understand the natural form for our movement i n the pre­ sent circumstances. A l l that glitters is not gold. There is a clear, basic difference between the aims and sphere of activity of the I P T A and of professional theatre organisations or any others i n existence at the moment. So the nature of I P T A move­ ment cannot be measured b y whether it is aimed at moneymaking or by the rush at the box office. "Amateur" label alone does not constitute the difference. The I P T A is an organisation to guide a theatrical movement attempt­ ing to create a new revolutionary theatre. T h e answer as to its



success or failure w i l l be given b y the coming revolution i n the life of the people. I P T A must create a new cultural taste among the people through its artistic creations b y marching besides those organisation which fight the peoples battles. It must re­ main faithfuU to reality and produce art which is true to reality. One stage which began yeai-s ago has been completed. A n d a b i g battle hes ahead. F o r that, our democratic organisations must estabhsh I P T A everywhere throughout Gujarat. L e t the artistes throughout Gujarat free themselves from narrow shack­ les, wake up and march along this path. There is no other way for the present. JASWANT THAKKAR All India Joint Secretary IPTA (Translated by Vidya Munshi from the Editorial in the Cultural Section of the }ana Jug weekly) Unity, July IPTA



Assam: Dibrugarh District Conference.—^The two-day ses­ sion of the Dibrugarh District I P T A Conference was held i n the local "Amar Talkies" haU on June 20 and 21. Sri Bishnu Prasad Rava, fhe eminent artiste and the doyen of the Assamese cul­ ture presided. T h e delegates came from Digboi, Naharkatia, Tongakhat, Borborua, Barpathar, Jokai and Dibrugarh town, the total number being 40. After passing condolence resolutions, the A . - I . Manifesto of I P T A was placed i n the delegates' session, widely discussed and unanimously adopted. Resolutions were passed expressing solidai'ity with the world peace movement, demanding Government aid for the Amolapathy Natya Mandir, the only theatre haU of the town whose construction could not be completed due to want of funds and appealing to the Municipality for building an open air theatre and proposing a drama festival in Dibrugarh, next winter. Summing up the deliberations of the delegates' session, H . Biswas, Secretary, I P T A , Assam Branch, formulated the tasks, ideological, organisational and productional that confronted the Assam I P T A . Sri Bishnu Rava i n his presidential address, which was highly illuminating, traced the origin and development of Assamese culture and how I P T A is founded on that heritage.




H e also related how his chequered career as an artiste and a freedom-fighter found its confluence i n I P T A — w h i c h organisa­ tion alone, according to him, can guide an artiste, to his dream­ land of beauty and harmony. In the two-day cultural function, songs, comic sketches, a drama and a shadow play were staged. The hall was packed to capacity. Brajen Boruah, the famous composer of Gauhati, who went to Madras along with the Assam troupe participated in tlie performance. H e also related to the audience, his ex­ periences of the Madras tour. H i r e n Chowdhury of Tezpur I P T A , the rising comedian, who is known as Sandwip Sanyal of Assam, participated as a fraternal delegate and his comic sketches on topical subjects, were the highhght of the function. In the first night the drama Tufan by Nagen Kakati on tea labourers' life was staged. In the second night a shadow-play written by the I P T A playwright, Phani Das, entitled, "Chenehar Bahiti" (The beloved flute), depicting the ravages of the last war i n Assam's social life was staged. The shadow-play is a positive contribution to the peace movement i n Assam. In the series of songs, Gagan Boruah, Hasan Sarif, H a r i Kamal, Baikuntha Gogoi and Usha Gogoi acquitted themselves creditably. A District Committee of 15 was elected with Sri Prabhat Sarma, the famous actor as the president and Gagan Boruah, Hasan Sarif A h m e d and Traisulya Gogoi as joint secretaries. Sarbhog L o c a l Conference.—Under the initiative of the Bar­ peta T o w n I P T A , the Sarbhog Branch (Kamrup D i s t ) of the I P T A held its first annual conference i n the local Gandhi H a l l on July 6 last, under the presidentship of Sri Nanda M o h a n Mazumdar, who is also the President of the local primary C o n ­ gress Committee. Delegates numbering 30 were present. Sri Dambaru Das, Secy., Barpeta I P T A , inaugurating the function, spoke on the aims and objects of I P T A i n the hght of the A . - I . Manifesto Resolutions on the local issues affecting the life of the people and artistes were adopted. Resolutions also demand­ ing the abohtion of Amusement Tax and Government A i d for the local Gandhi H a l l were passed. In a three-hour function in the evening, several songs, dances and a short playlet were staged by the Barpeta I P T A artistes. In the open show nearly 3,000 visitors attended. The new Branch Committee was elected consisting of 30



members which included many notable artistes of the locahty. Sri Ravan Nath, the famous comedian of Assam, has been elect­ ed president; Sri Girish Das has been elected secretary and Bashishta Das and D a y a l Bayan as joint secretaries. West Bengal—Calcutta U n i t — Nortli Calcutta U n i t is rehearsing a new drama by Sri M o n i Mazumder. South Calcutta U n i t is rehearsing the "Jatra" to be staged i n August as weh as a fuU length drama on Rosen­ bergs—"Loyalty" translated into Bengah by Sri B i r u Mukherjee. Provincial Ballet Troupe is rehearsing a short baUet on U . S . Pak. Pact to be staged on the occasion oiE A.-I. Peace Council Session. Badartala U n i t (a working class unit) has staged a "Jatra" (a traditional drama form of Bengal), titled "Sanghat" (Conflict) by Sri Gurudas Paul—a powerful and most popular workingclass composer and artist of I P T A . It is for the first time i n the history of I P T A i n Bengal that a "Jatra" has been staged. Kashipore (another working-class area) Unit has successfully staged the drama " A j - K a l " and the composer of the unit has composed a few songs which are very popular among the peo­ ple of that area. Barrackpore District Units—^All the units of the district are preparing for the local conferences, and shows as a preparation for the coming District Conference to be held i n September. Kanchrapara U n i t has staged recently the drama "Dahl" with a great success. Naihati U n i t has observed the birth anniversary of Bankim Chandra, the powerful writer of Bengal. Burdwan District Branch—^Asansol U n i t has observed July 11, 1954, as its foundation day. A cultural programme by the local branch was staged i n the same evening though the police autho­ rities banned the cultural items to be staged by the Calcutta Units. Bihar—A meeting of the representatives of all the units scat­ tered all over this province w i l l be held at Patna on August 21 and 22, 1954, to find ways and means to strengthen the provin­ cial centre and to work out a plan and programme for holding the conferences on all levels. Patna Unit is making all arrangements for this meeting as weU as this unit is rehearsing songs, dances and a playlet to be staged on this occasion. Deoghar U n i t is rehearsing a H i n d i drama translated from Bengali.



Jamshedpur U n i t is organising a drama competition among ah the drama organisations of that town on August 7 and 8, 1954. Uttar Pradesh—The Provincial Committee w i l l meet i n the first week of August at Lucknow. Lucknow Unit has staged a number of dramas based on Prem Chand's stories, by Yashpal and Mrs. Razia Sajjad Zahir. This unit is trying to start a regular dance-school. This unit is making preparations to hold a provincial folk-art festival i n August. Meerut Unit has staged two performances recently on the occasions of Rajasthan Peasant Conference and Meerut District Peasant Conference. This unit is preparing to hold the local conference. Agra U n i t has recently staged shows of shadow-play, one-act play on peasants' problems, dances and songs at Bijnour during the Provincial Peasant Conference, at Shikoabad for T. B . Relief F u n d and at Agra town. Orissa: A well-representative organising committee has been formed at Cuttack to stabilise I P T A i n that town and the pro­ vince. A number of songs have been composed i n O r i y a langu­ age. These are gaining popularity every day. Sree Patnayek, the renowned writer of Orissa, has written a drama for this unit. This unit hopes to stage it by the middle of September, 1954. Rajasthan Rajasthan U n i t is organising a district drama festival and con­ ference during the first week of September, 1954. A competition of dramas w i l l also be held during this occasion. Prior to this festival, this unit w i l l stage its new drama i n August, 1954. East Punjab: This unit has staged a number of shows of "Sazash"—the opera on U.S.-Pak. Pact at different centres of Punjab. A t present they are busy i n rehearsing new items as a part of the preparation for A.-I. Kisan Conference to be held in Punjab i n September, 1954. Guzarat: Ahndedabad Unit is rehearsing on full-scale the Guzarati version of the famous Chinese play "White H a i r e d G i r l . " This drama has been rendered into Guzarati by Sri Girish Bhachech—the joint secretary of the branch. This branch is building a mobile stage. The appeal for funds for this stage received very good res­ ponse from the public. This is the only unit which has imple-



mented the call for buildmg our own stage by A.-I. Committee. There are six full-fledged branches at different centres of M a h a Gujarat. It has been decided to hold the Provincial Con­ ference some time i n December, 1954, or January, 1955. Bombay: Bombay branch took up a number of one-act plays after "Babu." T w o one-act plays, viz., "Third W o r l d W a r " and "Feminine Touch" w i U be staged i n this month. A number of good songs tuned by K a n u Ghosh is gaining popularity every­ day. A dance group has been formed and this squad has al­ ready composed some short items. This squad expects to stage a full-length ballet b y September, 1954. O n the evening of the 4th June, 1954, the Bombay and Maha­ rashtra branches of I P T A jointly celebrated the " 1 3 T H A N ­ N U A L D A Y " of I P T A at the Bambay Office premises. Shri Sham L a i was requested to preside over the function. The Song Squads of Bombay and Maharashtra Branches gave their en­ chanting folk songs, while Shri R a i B a h l and Shri Raj Verma, under the item "Jawabi Hamla." gave glympses into the history of I P T A since 1943. The function concluded with the presenta­ tion of a skit "Prayog" by the D r a m a Group, specially prepared for the occasion, dealing critically on the problems of the Drama Group. This skit was collectively written by the members tak­ ing part i n it, each contributing his own dialogue. The skit was staged without any make-up, furniture or property on stage and this technique was well appreciated. Under the joint auspices of the Maharashtra and Bombay branches of I P T A , a General Body Meeting was arranged on l l t h June 1954. Shri Annabhau Sathe the AU-India Vice-Presi­ dent, presided over the function, where Shri Niranjan Sen, A U India General Secretary, gave a fuU report of I P T A activities in all the States since the 7th AU-India Conference at Bombay i n 1953, with a particular emphasis on the tremendous success of the recent I P T A tour during M a y last, when about 100 artistes of various I P T A Squads from aU over the Northern States, for the first time, gave their cultural performances at the invitation of the Nataka Kazhagam i n Madras city and suburbs. T h e function was highlighted by the rousing and melodious folk songs sung by the popular I P T A and people's artist Shri N h m a l Chowdhury. T h e meeting concluded with the singing of the National Anthem, "Jana Gana Mana."



Maharashtra: Lalbaugh Unit (a working class unit) has staged successfully a peace drama written by a postal peon. Omar Sheikh, Gavankar and Annabhao Sathe have just re­ turned touring different parts of Maharashtra giving perfor­ mances. It has been decided that during this rainy season Omar Sheik w i l l run a camp for some districts of Maharastra and Gavankar and Annabhao Sathe w i h run another camp for some •other districts of Maharastra including Marathawada. These camps wiU go a long way to stabihsing the units of I P T A i n the interior of Maharastra. Kerala: The Central Group (K.P.A.C.) has completed 45 days' tour of Malabar completing 331 nights of the performance of the drama "You made M e a Communist." This troupe has bought a b i g van so that the troupe can tour different parts of Kerala. A number of weU-organised drama groups have come into existence i n Kerala. I n presence of Niranjan Sen, A . - I . General Secretary the representatives of different groups met and dis­ cussed the possibility of forming Kerala branch of I P T A and it was decided to form an Organising Committee i n the near future which w i l l be responsible to develop the situation for holding All-Kerala Conference of I P T A . A dance group has been formed with Gangadharan as dance director. O. N . V . K u r u p has composed a number of wonderful songs tuned b y Devarajan for this dance troupe. This troupe is already staging shows. A n d h r a : A federation of 95 Dramatic Associations has come into existence with the aims of (1) promoting the highest stand­ ards i n the arts and crafts of stage production, (2) helping the several Dramatic Associations to attain better standards of cul­ tural, technical and organisational aspects and generahy, (3) guiding the stage to enable it to fulfil its historical role i n the scheme of evolution of our society, art and culture: and (4) promoting a dynamic daily contact with the living stage so as to offer it day-to-day help, guidance and direction. The first conference w i h be held on August 7 and 8, 1954. D r . G . Raja Rao, organiser and one of the founder-members of I P T A is the secretary of the reception committee.


Bohurupee s New



Bahurupee organisation staged "Rakta-Karabi" by Rabindra­ nath Tagore with tremendous success on N e w E m p h e board. This drama has surpassed all the glories this organisation achiev­ ed during the last few years. Anandam's



Anandam—a new organisation—staged recently the new drama b y Tulsi Lahiri, "Banglar M a t i " (Soil of Bengal) on IndoPak. amity on N e w Empire board. It has been hailed by all sections of people and the Press. Prominent artistes like Tulsi Lahiri, K a l i Sarkar, M o h d . Israil and Sabitabrata D u t t a are i n the cast. UnUy, July 1954


I n the past Calcutta used to be the main centre of the I P T A movement. Sometimes, the organisation and production side of distant parts of the province used to depend upon the directives and production materials from Calcutta. That is why inspite of the urge and demand for it, a province-wide movement was not growing. Constant hammering from the provincial centre for the last two years made it possible for the districts to develop their own district committees and at least to start exploring new sources of b i d folk forms of the districts and to utilise these rich folk forms to further the I P T A movement. A concrete plan for bringing national folk forms on the plat­ form of I P T A was produced by the Provincial Secretariat i n the last February session in which almost all the districts excepting only a few were represented. The meeting discussed that if we really wished to apply our All-India Manifesto i n practice we should make the platform much broader to all organisations and individuals who are ready to accept our manifesto even if only partially. In case of partial acceptance, however, we must see that they are genuine friends of the people for we cannot accept any anti-people idea i n our organisation. W e have heard from the provincial committee members from the districts about the proper use of the typical folk forms of the districts. Howrah reported about Bhadu Gan fBhadu Song),



Kabi Gan, Ghetu Gan, Chadti Gan, Bhar Jatfa, Bhar Nach, Tar a, etc. In this way all the districts repori:ed about the objective position of folk art i n rural Bengal. T h e Provincial Cbmmittee Session of February last was a landmark i n the history of I P T A movement i n this province. A h the members present on the occasion accepted this outiook of recognising this rich but dry­ ing up source of the peoples' theatre movement as the pivot of the cultural life of oru nation. A t the same time the meeting attached the greatest signifi­ cance to the new stage movement i n the heart of the city of Calcutta, famous for its new stage movements and developments. The city squads should work here with ah the city's bold con­ tent and technical brihiance so that they can compete with the influence our rich professional stage which at the present mo­ ment is facing a terrible crisis as regards both production and finance. N o w the question arises as to how to carry this out i n actual practice. T h e Provincial Committee and the District C o m ­ mittees are planning for the coming conference. The scope of the conference has been explained to the District Committees. The main task before the coming conference is to draw all forms and cultural groupes to our platform.- F o r this fhe districts -will mobilise all their efl^orts to bring all sorts of folk units as the driving force we -wih organize for the conference and establish that ours is an organization without parallel i n the province. Though our work is not entirely satisfactory, still we have produced nearly 100 dramas, ballads and poster plays as weh as innumerable songs i n the last two years. Is there another organisation which can claim such a vast number of productions ? In the last two years we performed more than 3,200 shows (in­ cluding song programmes) throughout the province. There are I P T A units operating ah over Barrackpore, Howrah and 24 Parganas areas. I n Nadia, Burdwan and Murshidabad, I P T A workers are preparing themselves for the district conferences through which they w i l l establish strong district centres. In this connection we are aware of the mass movements which are going on throughout the province. So, if I P T A wants to plant its roots i n the very depths of the hearts of the people of Bengal, it should march with these movements. W e are practi­ cally stormed b y the organisers of other mass organisations to lead them i n developing cultural -wings of their own. I P T A w i l l



work with these groupes of TVs, KS's, Mahila and Youth orga­ nisations and w i l l function as organisers of theh cultural wings. These direct connections with the mass movements, proper utilisation of our advanced stage movement of the city and strenuous efforts to explore the rural folk forms, w h l make the foundation of I P T A firm as a rock. B y these measures we can consolidate a l l the organisations within the camp of the peoples theatre and at the same time the existing I P T A productions w i h improve i n both content and form. The real test, before the organisers, however, lies i n the future. The volume of IPTA's influence even at present is large but the achievement of the above mentioned objectives can bring about a qualitative change i n the Bengal I P T A movement. O u r suc­ cess i n co-ordinating this vast movement i n ah its various aspects depends upon the building of a strong centre. If the provincial headquarters is strong, then and then only can it guide the pro­ vincial movement b y assimilating the rich experiences viz., (i) the colourful rural folk forms; (ii) modern stage movement of the c i t y ; and (iii) cultural movement which is growing up w i t h the mass organisations guiding the mass movements i n general. This is the general line of the Bengal I P T A . In the field of folk art, 24-Parganas district organisers of I P T A organised a Gajan Festival (traditional folk form of worshipping the H i n d u G o d Shiva and his consort Parvati, through songs and dances). M a l d a organised a festival of Gambhira. Hooghly dis­ trict organisers are taking the lead for a district-wide folk art festival. F o r the first time i n the history of I P T A , Gurudas Paul famous worker poet of Bengal, staged a Jatra with worker artis­ tes. The Jatra was witnessed and heartily appreciated b y about two thousand peasants and jute workers. This form of folk drama is very much popular in Bengal. The question of marching with the mass organisations is also not totally neglected by us. N e w attempts are afoot for extend­ ing help to the glorious tramway workers union of Calcutta and plans for helping the lower grade employees are also under way. In Budge Budge the I P T A Unit with Standard Vacuum and jute workers, is going ahead with its own drama "Dabi" written and produced by the workers themselves. In Budge Budge the workers' song squad is also reaching towards a high standard. In N a d i a district the Santipur Unit is functioning with a mem­ bership composed totally of weavers.' This Unit is functioning 15





practically as liie cultural w i n g of the weavers. Thirty thousand weavers of Santipur are facing starvation and unemployment on account of the y a m policy of fhe Central Govemment. T o com­ bat the rotten y a m policy of the Government and stave off un­ employment and starvation the weavers are organising themselvs for the coming stmggle., A number of songs have been composed which are serving to dispel the gloom of frustration among the weavers and sounding a clarion call for the coming stmggle. In Calcutta, the women's organisation has formed a cultural section which is conducted b y I P T A artists. I n the same manner Bata Mazdoor Union of 24 Parganas is forming its workers' I P T A . Kishore Bahihi of West Bengal is opening its cultural centres under the guidance of the Provincial I P T A . I n the field of the youth movement, I P T A is working as its vital core i n Dinajpore, Jalpaiguri, Calcutta, Howrah, Burdwan and Barrackpore areas. There is hardly any Trade Union or Kisan Sabha Unit, Stu­ dents' Organisation, University, CoUege or C l u b , i n West Bengal which has not been entertained b y I P T A at least for once. Here the recent teachers' strike is worth mentioning. D u r i n g the period of the strike when-the teachers were squating i n front of the Governor's house, I P T A artistes performed every evening before the respected teachers. A t the time of the tram fare movement I P T A marched with the people with a poster drama on the then current movement. A t the time of the move­ ment for blockade of Pakistan, launched b y a handful of people with vested interests. I P T A took a firm stand and i n border districts propagated for a trade agreement between the two in­ dependent and neighbouring States of India and Pakistan. A t that time the Gambhira Squad of M a l d a district worked for peace and co-operation between the two . neighbouring countries. The correctness of the last A l l India Conference decisions is borne out b y an objective study of the general theatre move­ ment during the last one and half year. In Calcutta 75 orga­ nisations met to discuss the problems of modern stage move­ ment i n the last year. In that gathering where all shades of opinion were represented, I P T A tabled its Charter of Demands for discussion. T h e Charter was overwhelmingly greeted b y the gathering and a programme was accepted by this united drama



organisation based entirely on the Charter of Demands of I P T A . T h e Kranti Natya Sangha, cultmral w i n g of a certain Leftist Party, i n its conference put forward the same demands as are formulated i n our Charter of Demands, which i n Bengal to-day has been transformed into a Charter of Demands of the general theatre movement. As a result of the correctness of our programme and its ap­ plication i n practice, a mass cultural pressure is coming to bear on the W e s t . B e n g a l Govemment. Collection of signatures i n support of some of the demands is going on wdth help of the newly formed United Drama Movement Committee It is pro­ posed to send a deputation to see D r . B . C . Roy, Chief Minister of West Bengal, to discuss speciaUy (i) withdrawl of Dramatic Performances A c t of 1876; (ii) exemption from Amusement Tax and (iii) pre-censorship; and (iv) building of a national stage open to aU vdthout any bias regarding their ideology. In response to the growing conciousness of the people to­ wards cultural needs and as a result of the pressure exerted by cultural workers and organisations, the Govenrment planned to sponsor a semi-Government body for drama activities and we were invited to join i n the steering committee of the proposed body. Unfortunately, after the initial meeting, the convenors of the committee are silent and we do not know if the proposed Drama Academy is ever to become a fact. However, the Gov­ ernment's unbounded apathy to cultural activities is clear. T h e Govemment leaders, i n their speeches and statements, are full of l i p sympathy for our national cultural heritage but at the same time it is their own Govemment which serves a shameful notice on the I P T A Provincial Secretary (aheady reported i n the Unity) to submit the manuscripts, among others, of the works of D i n a Bandhu Mitra, R. N . Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chat­ terjee, which form our national cultural heritage. T h e Gov­ ernment's attitude towards the drama and cultural movement in general is hypocritical and false. I P T A , however, is organising numerous meetings to popularise the Charter of Demands and it w i l l strive to build unity of all the cultural organisations i n support of these demands. W e believe in our organisational strength and the reality of these demands w i l l make this unity an established fact i n the near future. Meantime I P T A wiU continue to press for these demands independently on its own as it is now doing, confident i n the



knowledge that these are the demands of the general theatre movement and express the strivings of a vast mapority of artistes to whatever cultural organisation they might belong. L o n g live I P T A . L o n g live the theatre movement of Bengal, (abridged). N i r m a l Ghose A.I. Joint Secretary, I P T A Unity, August



T h e first Conference of the Andhra Theatres' Federation was held at Rajahmundry on August 7, 1954, i n the Rajya Lakshmi H a h , M r . D a d i Govindarajula, Subordinate Judge and a wellknown actor of Andhra Desa, presiding. Over 100 delegates attended the Conference. Among those present were M r . K . V . Gopalswami, M r . Sthanam Narasimha Rao, A . Shankara Rao, D r . G . Raja Rao, D r . C . Sanyasi Raju, D r . Chandrasekharam, Srimathi Sarojini, D r . A . B . Nageswara Rao and others. M r . D . Rammohana Rao, Chairman of the Reception C o m ­ mittee, welcoming the delegates, observed that the home of Telugu drama and Telugu theatre, the Bellary town, was given away to Mysore and it was a matter of concern to all lovers of Telugu drama and theatre. H e was glad to note that 130 asso­ ciations from all over Visalaandhra had been afiiliated to the Andhra Theatres' Federation. Presenting the annual report, M r . Kopparapu Subba Rao of Vijayawada, Secretary of the Steering Committee, said that the Andhra Theatres' Federation started on A p r i l 14, 1954, would supplement the activities of the Andhra" Nataka K a l a Parishat started i n Tenah i n 1929. M r . V . Venkata Rao then read the messages wishing the func­ tion success received from D r . S. Radhakrishnan, Vice-President of India, M r . V . Nagaiah, M r . P. V . Rajamannar, M r . B . N . Reddi, M r . M . P. Appa Rao, M r . N . Venkateswara Rao, M r . B . Kanakalingeswara Rao, Srimathi Kamaladevi Chatopadhyaya and M r . Niranjan Sen, General Secretary of I P T A , and others.


M r . Balraj Sahni's Inaugural Declaring the conference said that he was happy to body was formed i n Visala ancient and noble tradition


Speech open, M r . Balraj Sahni of Bombay, note tliat an independent cultural Andhra for the maintenance of the of the Andhra A r t and Literature.

Continuing, he said that a new renaissance was visible i n the field of art and culture and that the theatre was the mother of the film as well as the radio. H e pointed out that i n countries where the film, the radio and television were progressing, the theatre was also advancing to a great extent. There was a gen­ eral impression i n our country that the cinema was the enemy of the theatre. A study of the development of theatres in A m ­ erica, France and England would help remove this impression. M r . Sahni said that the films produced i n India were not of high order, that the theatre was not developing as it should be, that capitalists were manufacturing the films only for the profit and urged that the Govemment and big businessmen should extend their patronage to films and theatres so that they might be run on right lines. Pointing out the difficulties experienced b y the actors of Bom­ bay, the speaker pleaded for the abolition of entertainment tax. H e paid a tribute to' D r . G . Raja Rao and other Andhra ac­ tors, who staged " M a Bhumi" i n 1947 i n Bombay (an IPTA Production). The speaker appealed to the Andhra Theatres' Federation to translate the best Telugu dramas into the other Indian languages and to affiliate itself to the All-India Theatre Organisation. H e also suggested that the cultural academy of India should trans­ late the best dramas i n every Indian language into other Indian languages. In conclusion, he exhorted the playwrights and the actors to remember the common man and to educate him through drama, which should be a mirror of life. Presidential


M r . D a d i Govindarajulu, in his presidential address, stated that it was wrong to think that the Andhra Theatres' Federa­ tion was started as rival to the Andhra Nataka Kala Parishat. It was started only to suppliment and compliment the activities




of the Andhra Nataka K a l a Parishat. H e refuted the charge tliat the Andhra Theatres' Federation had affinities to a parti­ cular pohtical party. Proceeding, he observed that the professional actors had only one object, that of making money. T h e y d i d not envince any desire for staging new dramas. T h e great poets of Andhra had not grasped the necessity of writing dramas to suit the needs of modem times, observed the speaker. H e congratulated Messrs. Atreya Penisetty, Anisetty, D . V . Narasaraju, Kopparapu Subba Rao and D r . Gangadhara Rao on writing dramas i n Telugu and thanked the Government for offering prizes to the best play­ wrights. H e exhorted the Andhra Theatres' Federation to pay attention to this subject. Continuing, the speaker appealed to the municipalities and local bodies to erect more theatres with a view to encouraging dramatic art. H e pleaded for open air theatres and little thea­ tres. H e congratulated D r . Chandrasekhar on evolving the tech­ nic of ready made theatres'. H e pleaded for the extension of Rent Control A c t for the Cinema halls and dramatic theatres and for declaration of a holiday b y cinemas once a week or a month. H e urged adequate representation to artistes i n the Andhra State Assembly. H e congratulated the authorities of the Mysore University on i n ­ cluding dramatic art as one of the subjects i n the University courses. H e paid a tribute to the Registrar of the Andhra University, M r . K . V . Gopalaswami, for organising the University Dramatic Union and for starting an open air theatre i n the University premises. D r . C . Sanyasi Raju then Abhinayam. Concluding

delivered a lecture on



The Conference concluded on August 8, 1954, after adopting a number of resolutions. The Conference requested the Govemment to grant Railway concession to amateur dramatic associations. B y another reso­ lution, the Conference requested the Hyderabad State Govern-



ment to exempt dramas from entertainments tax and censorship. The Conference requested M r . Kopparapu Subba Rao to en­ dow his valuable and costly library and lighting equipment to the Andhra Theatres' Federation. A similar request was also made to M r . Vempati Ra'dhakrishna. The Conference paid a tribute to the Andhra Nataka K a l a Parishat started i n 1929, for its valuable .services to the Andhra Theatre and offered its unstinted co-operation to the Parishat. ' T h e Conference appealed to the dramatic associations function­ ing i n each district to organise dramatic competitions with a view to encouraging dramatic art and assured - them of their co­ operation. The Conference requested the State Govemment to erect a permanent dramatic haU. It requested the authorities of the Tirupati University to open a Chair of Dramatic A r t i n that University. The Conference requested the State Govemment to issue an order exempting dramatic performances permanently from entertainments tax. Among other resolutions passed were one requesting the dis­ trict associations to organise the collection of funds for the erec­ tion of dramatic theaties i n each district and another requesting the Govemment to give representation to artistes i n the Andhra State Assembly by constituting an aritstes' constituency. The election of office-bearers then took place. Messrs. K o p ­ parapu Subba Rao, Devatha Ramamohana Rao and Dr- G . Raja Rao were elected President, Vice-President and General Secre­ tary, respectivly. Messrs. Seetharamaiah of Jalagam and M u n i reddi of T i m p a t h i were elected Joint-Secretaries. M r . Gampala Basavaraju was elected Treasurer.. Messrs. Midasanamatla Kondala Rao and Rayaprolu Satyanarayana, well-known dramatic actors, were presented with shawls. Messrs. Balraj Sahni, K . V . Gopalaswami, Sthanam Narasimha Rao and D r . V . Chandrasekharam then delivered lectures on dramatic art. Dramatic performances by the number of organisations were organised on both the days in Rajya Lakshmi H a l l . UnUy, August





Assam Dibrugarh Branch staged a show at Tinsukia, 30 miles from Dibrugarh, on the 8th August. The audience sat tlirough the whole programme inspite of the drizzling rain. A U the songs, dances and the shadow plays were very much appreciated. The cultural items included new songs b y D r . Bhupen Hazarika, ' A t o m " dance by Prasanna Das and the shadow play "Amar Jatea" written b y Phanindra Nath Das. ' Jorhat: M i h t a Sflpi Samaj, a sister organisation of I P T A , is holding its 44th Annual Conference on the 12th, 13th and 14th September next. T h e programme includes cultural shows for the three days and prominent artistes from Calcutta I P T A w i l l proceed there to participate i n the shows as guest artistes. Gauhati: A conference of the cultural squads of railway workers wiU be held at Pandua in the middle of September next. I P T A artistes have launched a campaign to raise funds for the flood victims of Assam. West Bengal Calcutta: The Provincial Ballet staged 5 shows during A u g ­ ust. A new dance on the floods has also been composed. South Calcutta Branch: Staged on 20th August the long awaited "Jatra" (traditional drama form of Bengal) "RahuMukta" on Peace written b y B i r u Mukherjee. It was a great success and it has ushered i n a new phase i n I P T A movement i n Bengal. (A review on the "Jatra" w i l l appear i n our next issue). Badartalla (workers) U n i t is preparing for the local Con­ ference and brushing up the jatra "Sanghat" to be staged during the Puja Festivals i n coming October. Barrackpore District: F u l l scale preparations are going on for holding the district conference from September 9 at Baranagore. A l l the local primary units are completing their con­ ferences to discuss the main resolutions, to elect delegates and to select the best items to be presented during the district con­ ference. Naihati local conference was held on August 20, 21 and 22 and detailed discussions were held on the Manifesto and orga­ nisational problems and a number of resolutions were passed on



various subjects such as Chou-Nehru Agreement, Flood Relief, Gramophone Workers' strike etc. The open session was held on the 12th August under the pre­ sidentship of Sri R a m Sahaya Vedanta Shastri, a veteran and much esteemed scholar of the locality. Sri Samaresh Bose, the young and reputed writer of Bengal, was the chief guest. Sri Nirmal Ghose, the Provincial Secretary of I P T A , also spoke on the occasion. The session concluded with a rousing cultural programme of solo and chorus songs and the drama "Mohana" by I P T A and other local artistes. More than 4,()00' people attended the open session. Bihar: A n assembly of representatives of units ah over Bihar w i l l be held on the 4th and 5th September, 1954, at Patna to reorganise the centre, step up coordination and to take steps to utilise the possibilities fully. There is great response from all comers of the province, even from units functioning i n remote rural areas. Some districts w i l l be bringing cultural squads to participate in the cultural shows to be held i n the evening. The Patna Unit has arranged to hold on the 4th and 5th Sep­ tember, a variety show on a grand scale b y West Bengal Pro­ vincial Ballet Troupe to raise, funds for the UnUy and Flood Rehef. Other provinces are expected to follow this example. Uttar Pradesh: The Provincial Executive Committee meeting was held at Lucknow i n the last week of July. Prolonged discussions took place on various aspects of the I P T A movement i n the province with special emphasis on organisation, production, Charter of Demands and the Provincial Conference. It was decided to launch a vigorous movement against entertainment-tax and precensorship and also to send a well-represented deputation to the Provincial Government to press these demands. Further, it was decided to hold the Provincial Conference before the middle of October next. The Agra Unit staged shows of dance, drama and songs on August 21 and 22. This Unit is making the necessary arrange-



ments for holding the A . L Committee meeting there i n Septem­ ber and also preparing a show to be presented on that occasion. The Aligarh Unit staged a variety show i n aid of poor artistes of the I P T A dm-ing the third week of August, with a dancedrama "Saudagor" as the main item. Bombay: The Bombay U n i t staged a public performance of a variety entertainment comprising dance numbers like "Rajput Warriors" and "Hunter", one-act plays, viz. "Third W o r l d W a r " and "Jalidar Parde" (The Feminine Touch), a number of songs b y the local music squad and folk songs, b y N i r m a l Chowdhury of East Pakistan, who is now i n Bombay. T h e show was a great success and a number of invitations have been received for re­ peating this show during Ganesh Navratri Festivals. A number of songs including a new song written b y Sri Kaushal, tuned and led b y Sri Kanu Ghosh, were sung before a gathering of twelve thousand people at Kamgar Maidan on the 15th August last. Unity, August



West Bengal: A six day conference was held successfully at Calcutta from A p r i l 14, 1955. T h e detailed reports w i l l appear i n the next issue. A l l the district units are observing Tagore's birthday. Calcutta unit is further preparing to participate i n fhe State Youth Festival. Goabagan Squad of Calcutta staged "Merchant of Venice" i n Bengali in the packed hall of the Minerva Theatre on 8th June, 1955. This was really a courageous attempt on the part of the Goabagan Squad to stage the famous drama b y Shakespeare. The drama is rendered into Bengali by Sunil Chatterjee. Bihar: The Provincial Committee which met in the 1st week of A p r i l decided to hold the State Conference i n the month of Septem­ ber. A recent tour of Omar Sheik with his six colleagues i n the districts staging performances before thousands of people has created tremendous enthusiasm and this has helped a lot tow­ ards preparations for the coming conference.



Uttar Pradesh: A U the units are preparing with fuU force to participate i n the State Youth Festival to be held at Lucknow i n the first week of July, 1955. The Provincial Committee elected i n the State Con­ ference held i n December, w i l l meet at Lucknow i n the same week. Orissa: The First Conference of the State was held at Cuttack on M a y 19, 20 and 21, 1955. The delegates and folk-troupes from all the districts participated. Sri Tulsi Lahiri, noted dramatist and veteran actor inaugurated.the conference. Bombay: T h e 14th Annual Conference has been held when the foUow­ ing office-bearers have been elected:— President, Sri Rajindar Singh Bedi, Vice-President, Sri A . K . H a n g a l ; General Secre­ tary, Sri M u g h n i Abbasi, Joint Secretary, Sri E . G . Andrade and Treasurer, Sri Sukhendu Ghosh. Music squad has made preparations to hold a Music Conven­ tion of I P T A mobilising all music trainers, lyricists, composers and singers from all song squads of Bombay and Maharashtra branches as well as those closely connected and interested i n I P T A movement The convention wiU discuss the following points b r o a d l y : — (1) Review of the work done in the field of music i n Bombay since the inception of I P T A ; (2) Content of I P T A songs ; (3) Forms and compositions of, songs; (4) Presen­ tation of I P T A songs; and (5) T h e audience and its reaction to I P T A music. BRITISH




Berhampore, M a r c h 13 The District Magistrate of Murshidabad has imposed a ban on the performance of " H A R I P A D A M A S T E R " (a progressive drama depicting the aspiration and struggle of a school teacher) i n Berhampore town. The ban has been imposed i n pursuance of Dramatic Performances A c t of 1876, formulated during the B r i ­ tish Imperiahstic regime. O n 28th February, 1955, the Secretary, Murshidabad District I P T A , sent i n a petition to the Superinten-



dent of Police seeking permission to stage the drama i n their District Conference. The petition was refused i n writing b y the District Magistrate. Unity, June 1955 drama


(Bengali version of



Staged by I P T A , South Calcutta Unit The drama "Twentieth June" was staged sometime back b y the I P T A , South Calcutta Squad. This immortal drama depicts the last few hours of the Rosenburg couple i n the death-cell. Originally composed b y a Hungarian dramatist, it was translated i n Bengali b y Biru Mukherjee and was published i n the Puja number of the "Swadhinata." U n t i l it was actually staged we were somewhat apprehensive of its success o n a Bengali stage and b y Bengali artistes. But our apprehensions were proved wrong and the thumping success of the drama on the stage has more than surprised us. The fateful three hours prior to their execution i n Electric Chair, the couple were allowed to stay together. D u r i n g that time an emissary visited them. Pretending to be a progressive-mind­ ed man, he tried to baffle them b y shrewd arguments and vari­ ous tactics. H i s njain intention was to induce them to sign a guilt confession i n return of their lives. F o r sometime the couple indeed could not gauge the man properly and wavered between hope and suspense. B u t it was not long before the couple found out the man's motive and with utter disgust and hate refused his proposal. Then the devil shook off his mask and came out with his brutal fury. This could not move the Rosenburg couple from their grim determination and with cool composure, they pro­ ceeded towards the Electric Chair. In the extremely important and difficult role of the emissary Jnanesh Mukherjee has shown an amazing talent of acting. In the role of Ethel Rosenburg, Srimati Nivedita Das has left a deep impression on our minds to last for a long time. N o less praise is due to the acting i n the role of the jail-warden, Pivy. The other very difficult role of Julius Rosenburg—acted by



Biresh Mukherjee was also remarkably successful. I feel, his re­ strained acting however lacked ease to a certain degree. The dress and make-up are perfct and the direction admirable. Lighting suffered due to the absence of Tapas Sen. The back­ ground music needs brushing up. The make-up of Ethel and Julius Rosenburg was unique. D u e to the perfect presentation and production we never felt that it was a drama of foreign people i n a foreign set-up. I n the annals of Bengali drama it w i l l remain an episode. Unity, T H I R D ASSAM IPTA S T A T E




Inaugural speech by Balraj Sahni A t the outset I express my sincere gratitude for this oppor­ tunity to inaugurate this T h i r d Provincial Conference of the Assam Branch of the Indian People's Theatre Association. I feel specially grateful because I feel I am not worthy of this honour. It is for the first time that I have come to this State, though I have been to Bengal, the sister province of yours. Bengal is my "Guru Bhumi" because some of my first lessons i n the field of arts I obtained from this State, at the feet of the great hum­ anist and artist Rabindranath Tagore. Some call Tagore an es­ capist but I would prefer to disagree and on the contrary, I would call him a great realist. I was at Biswabharati, the centre of education and knowledge. Tagore was a lover of humanity. H e opened his Biswabharati not for the propagation of Bengali chauvinism but to make it a centre where culture of different lands can be represented and facilities for the gi-owth of each and every culture may be afforded. It is here under the feet of Gurudev that I first learnt to love my language and my people. As you know I have been brought up in a very puritan en­ vironment. Son of an orthodox Aryasamajist I had my education in Sanskrit and U r d u . I secm-ed my master's degree from the Lahore CoUege. I was taught to imitate the English way of life and to look down upon our people and their culture. I had the impression during this time that my mother-tongue which is Punjabi was not a language at aU. I learnt to hate it and started writing i n H i n d i . I gained some popularity also. In Santiniketan I also wrote i n H i n d i . Gurudev would always ask me to write in



my own mothertongue. I told him once that I d i d not consider it possible to write i n Punjabi which was, I said, i n a very under­ developed state. Gurudev was i n fact enraged. H e said that he was really amazed to hear such words from me. H e said that Punjabi was one of the greatest languages, it was a language i n which Nanak and Kabir wrote their immortal works. I then reahsed the supreme truth that i n order to be a real artist I must know my people and my language. Gurudev would often urge me to go back to my people and be among them and write for them and i n their language. It was a difficult task because b y that time I had gained some success as a writer i n H i n d i . But the supreme truth which Gurudev gave me, I followed. It was my first b i g lesson i n life. I learnt that an artist can best express himself and develop himself only through the mastery of the de­ tails of the life of his people and their language and culture. Progress is not possible for an artist who is divorced from his people and who does not know them. Such an artist is apt to become a chauvinist and start hating other people and their culture and chauvinism, as you know, means the death of all that is great i n an artist and he loses all power of creation. Peo­ ple who are scornful about other people's language and culture are incapable of loving their own culture too. Again I must speak of Bengal, because it is here that I got another b i g lesson of life ; I had the privilege of working under the guidance of Sree Nandalal Bose and of being his student. M y association with h i m taught me that we can develop our art and culture b y utilising our existing resources. L e t me narrate one incident. W h i l e i n Santiniketan I once arranged the stag­ ing of the famous drama, the H i n d i version of G . B . S.'s "Arms and the M e n , " I wanted to get the dress from Calcutta on hire but as I d i d not get the money, I was disappointed and decided to give up the idea. Nandalal Bose called for me. I told the reasons of my decision to him. H e took me to his chamber and asked me to give fhe details of the dress that I would require i n connection with the staging of the drama. Most reluctantly I gave him the list, as I d i d not beheve he would be able to give them the next day. T o my greatest surprise I found all the dress ready. T h e previous night he had all of them ready, made with clay and other materials which we can always secure. This taught me how wrong the notion is that we can not dev­ elop our culture i n the existing pecuniary circumstances.



In this connection I must say that it is the Enghsh dramas that first taught me what reahsm i n drama meant. O n my return I was introduced with the members of the I.P.T.A. b y my friends Sree Prasad Rao and K . Reddi. I came i n contact with K . A . Abbas and it was then that I had the op­ portunity of directing his play "Zubeda." I first appeared i n the fiilm "Dharti-ke-lal" produced b y I.P.T.A. M y association w i t h the production of this film taught me how people can help the artistes if they want to produce anything for the people. I may mention that i n the film under discussion several thou­ sands of peasants helped us i n making the scene of march of the famine-striken people to Calcutta. Hundreds of women of Maharastra marched i n the scorching sun to enable us to film a real scene of the march. Here I learnt another important t h i n g ; technique is not divorced from content but it is some­ thing which grows side by side with the onward march of the people's life and must be able to keep pace wdth it. A U talks of technique alone without caring for the content is formalism and does not help the growth of culture. Artists must not fight over the question of technique and form, the two are not two antagonistic things. I am specially indebted to the I.P.T.A. for whatever fame I liave gained. M y acting i n the film "Do Bigha Zamin" gave me another opportunity to learn from the people. I learnt from the rickshawallas of Calcutta and this gave me the opportunity to l e a m how to portray the real life of the people i n all its glory. I worked with them, sat with them, chatted with them and only then I could act as I have done i n this picture. Today I have "been pushed into Stardom, national and international, but I must say that it is the people who made me what I am and their share is the greatest. I must also say that it is the associa­ tion with the I.P.T.A. that equipped me for acting i n the role of Shambhu i n " D o Bigha Zamin." I must mention the revolutionary part played i n the film world b y late Promathesh Baruah, the greatest artist of the film world, who hailed from this glorious land of Assam. It is he who showed the Indian Producers what realism i n film means and that realistic photography can produce wonderful films which wiU not be a box-failure as the producers would always claim. T h e Indian film world would always remain grateful to him. Assam can be proud of this unique contribution to the film



world of India. I must also express my deep gratitude to the people of Assam for it is here that the Great Dancer, Santi Bardhan, worked for years to leam dances and his influence on the I.P.T.A. was particularly felt at Bombay and i n all the notable productions of the I.P.T.A. I n fine, I may again say that it is the people and their life that can teach us best and it is b y mastering their culture, know­ ing their lives that we can become great artistes. But while trying to portray the life of the people we must steer clear of the danger of falling victims of slogan mongering. Life must not be viewed partially and parochially. The I.P.T.A. artistes must be able to see life as it is. Parochialisni makes the production of inferior quality, lacking the artistic values that are necessary for ah great works. N o w that our country is free, we artists must take our worthy role i n the development of our national culture, and the build­ ing up of a happy and prosperous life for our people. W e have not only to revive our past culture but we are also to take it forward from glory to glory and build the splendid structure of to-morrow and dedicate our life for this noble cairse. (From the longhand notes taken by Priti Chakravarty speech delivered in

of Mr. Sahni's


main resolution OUR TASK

Our conference is meeting at a critical t u m of world history. Today the profile of history is darkened b y the shadow of a war conspiracy, which is being planned b y American Imperialism throughout the world and particularly i n Asia i n league with other Imperialist Powers: Peace and freedom of Asia is threa­ tened as never before. A culture that is dedicated to the glory of human life can never thrive on the ashes of a burnt out civi­ lization, on the scattered skulls and bones of the human race. Hence it is the paramount duty of ah the lovers of art and culture to become partisans of peace, to lend their helping hand to the immense straggle which the million—^headed humanity is waging to chain the demon of war, to save peace, freedom and the future of the human race.



It is doubly true of the partisans of peace and culture in this beautiful land of Assam, flanked as it is on the north by our great and friendly neighbour, the People's C h i n a , with whom for more than two thousand years we have been deeply bound in the silken chord of peace, amity and friendship, and today on whom the war maniacs have tumed the muzzle of their gun. It is turned on us too. (1) Hence today it should be a special endeavour on our part to strengthen the fight for peace and freedom, against war and domination through our songs, dances and dramas, depicting the struggles of the people to save humanity and to ensure the cli­ mate and conditions under which life and culture can flourish. T o achieve this noble aim, the I.P.T.A. will not only use it own platform but also will help in a concrete way other people's organisations which pursue the same ideal of peace, progress and freedom. W e dedicate our art to peace and amity among nations, to undying friendship with our great neighbours. (2) The Muses of art and culture are the off-spring of the people struggling for the light and beauty of a better life. Hence our movement for the development and dissemination of a healthy and creative art can not but take into account the ex­ acting problems which command the attention of our people to-day. Thence it follows that the I.P.T.A. must go to the people. The struggle of our people for bettSi: living conditions and libera­ tion from all kinds of injustice and humiliation should be ade­ quately reflected in our artistic presentations. T o attain this purpose the I.P.T.A. should build up close links with the orga­ nisations of the labouring masses, of peasants, workers and middle class employees, of students and intellectuals, should study their problems and help them in their righteous straggles through our creative art. (3) T o defend and develop the best and the healthiest tradi­ tions of our national culture against the inroads of cormpt in­ fluences and ideologies, the I.P.T.A. will continue its fight against any display of anti-human art which seeks to glorify and incul­ cate the seamy sides of man, war hysteria and pornography, cynicism and perversity, national hatred, and misanthrophy through films, magazines, literatures, whatever garb this pseudoart may put on. 16



T o promote the fight against these sinister attempts at cor­ ruption of our art and culture and to save our art and culture from being degenerated into a simple subject of enjoyment for enjoyment's sake, we must have definite plans to train u p the artists and members of the I.P.T.A. W e should spare no pains to inculcate i n them a robust feeling and conviction that art for us is not simple entertainment but a fresh breath of life—an art which builds, ennobles and beautifies life. T o achieve this' purpose the I.P.T.A. should undertake to organise libraries and study circles, symposiums .and debates through which our members and artistes may l e a m and labour hard for having a healtheir and fuller view of hfe and art. A serious habit of learning must replace the light hearted and superficial approach to the cultural movement. (4) W e firmly stand for the equality of all peoples and we definitely reject any assumption of an air of national superiority and national exclusiveness. Assam is fortunate to be a conflu­ ence of numerous nationalities,—tribes and races—all of which are endowed with a rich heritage of art and culture, each grand and beautiful i n its distinctiveness and yet harmonious with the whole. W e must boldly uphold the free development of each dis­ tinctive culture of these different tribes and nationalities of our land and at the same time build up an all embracing unity through cultural exchange, co-operation and assimilation. This is a prerequisite for the cultural development of Assam as a whole. Hence the Assam I P T A must remain a platform of unity i n diversity, which is of singular importance and significance for a province like Assam. Painstaking learning of the history and cultural achievements of different nationalities should be a special task of the I P T A members and artistes. (5) O u r productions must be i n full accord with our ideo­ logical tasks. W e should continue to give our special attention to knowing, preserving and developing the highly rich folk traditions of o m culture which are inherited b y our numerous peoples. W e should strive to enrich these multicoloured folk forms with a new content befitting the age we live i n . In this respect the resources of Assam are inexhaustible. (6) T h e ten lakh T e a labourers of Assam constituting about one-tenth of her population is a fountain of rich cultural heri­ tage—^but this source is drying up due to exploitation, penury



and isolation. It is the duty of the I P T A to reach the tea workers, to l e a m from them how to resurrect and develop this artistic and cultural tradition. (7) The Yatras, Bhawnas, Ozapalis and such other people's art-forms of Assam are still eking out a limping existence am­ ong the peasant masses who still try to keep these forms alive i n their offtime cultm-al persuits, they need a fresh stimulus to ensure their growth and revival. It is for the I P T A to study these forms and infuse into them the spirit of the age. (8) O u r emphasis on the folk form does not mean that we pay scant regard for other forms of art. O n the contrary we should inculcate a deep respect for the classical art which re­ flects the refinement of the highest order. W e should try to master the classical form which is also b o m of the people. Apart from this we should try to adopt and evolve such new and effective art forms as Radio play. Poster play. Shadow play and the like. (9) Whatever forms we adopt we should strive ceaselessly for technical and artistic perfection of our production. W e should give up all light-hearted and "made easy" solutions i n this respect. W e must not fail to take note of the fact that the people's standard of appreciation has gone higher. (10) T h e I P T A to be worth its name must reach the millions of our people. In co-operation with the organisations of the labouring masses it should try to build up I P T A units among the workers and peasants. It should try to bring out from ob­ scurity the latent talents of artistes lying hidden among the masses. (11) T h e artistes i n Assam are mostly unorganised till today. M a n y of them are rotting i n obscure corners bereft of the sim­ ple means of livelihood. It is for the I P T A to organise these artistes and fight for their right to a fair living. The struggle for their rights, liberties and better living conditions is an inseparable part of the I P T A movement. (12) W h i l e organising the artistes we should carefully avoid all narrow and sectarian. outlook. There are many artistes orga­ nisations i n Assam either on nationality or on a local basis. T h e I P T A does not entertain the least sense of rivalry with any of these organisations. It should patiently try to affiliate these organisations to the I P T A or they may be persuaded to remain as associate organisations. W i t h those organisations which are




neither afBliated nor associated with .the I P T A , we should try to build up warm fraternal relations. T h e I P T A is a broad based democratic organisation which is open to all artistes and lovers of art irrespective of caste, creed, religion, language and nationahty,—^who are inspired b y the ideal the I P T A stands for. (13) Among our brethren i n the Hills, the Imperiahsts i n some cases have corroded their culture and even denationalised it, their age long cultural tradition fast passing into oblivion. The I P T A should make efforts to revive, preserve and enrich these rich traditions with the new outlook. These are the tasks which confront the I P T A movement i n Assam to-day. Fulfilment of these tasks require hard labour, serious study, thorough training and above all a deeper under­ standing of our aims and objects and a spirit of selfless dedica­ tion to the service of the people. This way we shall be able to ensure an all-round cultural ad­ vancement of our people who w i l l sing the glory of life i n peace and plenty, freedom and prosperity.


This Conference is intensely happy to note that numerous foreign cultural missions from such great friendly countries as the U.S.S.R. and China have been recently visiting India and also that Indian cultural missions have been visiting these lands reciprocating the feelings of peace and friendship. This Conference heartily welcomes this exchanges of cultural missions on an international scale as paving the way to deveiloping a deep and friendly understanding among nations. But this Conference at the same time regrets that the Assam Govemment and the Central Government have so far failed to arrange for the visit of these august foreign missions to Assam. Hence this Conference demands that henceforth both the State Government and the Central Govemment should make efforts so that Assam may be included i n the tour programme of these cultural missions. This Conefrence further demands that for facilitating cultural exchange and co-operation among different tribes and nationalities of Assam and for building up the unity of our people, the Government should withdraw the



existing travel restriction between the hiUs and the plains and thus promote and ensure free communion of thought and cul­ ture among our people. This Conference is firmly convinced, that the Chou-Nehru five principles constitute the corner stone of the decent international behaviour which can ensure peace and amity among nations. F o r the sake of the peaceful developmnt of art and culture, for ensuring a climate i n which life can flourish i n its all round beauty, this conference calls upon the people of Assam to mo­ bilise i n millions behind this noble edifice of Five Principle of Peace. This Conference feels deeply concerned today over the safety of the human race which is endangered b y such weapons of terrific destruction as the hydrogen bomb. This Conference de­ mands that these nuclear weapons be immediately banned by an international agreement and a scheme be forthwith drawn up for the progressive reduction of armaments.


Report by Priti


The 3rd Assam Provincial Conference of the Indian People's Theatre Association was held at Gauhati from the 19th to the 22nd February last. It marked the reaching of a new stage in the cultural movement of Assam. The number of participants who attended the conference held i n the spcially prepared mas­ sive pandal with the impressive "]0Y\i Toran" styled after the greatest artist of modern Assam—^Late Joytiprasad Agarwalla and the character and diversity of them proved beyond doubt the emergence of the I P T A as the only national cultural organisa­ tion i n Assam where different races, tribes and nationalities in­ habiting this easternmost State of India, can fully display their creative genius and enrich and revitalise their own culture on the basis of respectful cooperation and mutual exchange with­ out endangering their own distinctiveness i n the least. The Conference was inaugurated b y the well-known screen and stage actor Sree Balraj Sahni, who, i n course of a brilliant speech, dwelt at length on the various problems that face our artistes and their movement. H e pointed out on the basis of




his own experience, gained i n course of his outdoor shooting of the Do Bigha Zamin, that the problem of technique and coiitent can be resolved only when artistes completely identify themselves with the people. H e also feelingly referred to the contribution of the I P T A behind his attainment of popularity i n the screen-world. Inspiring messages were received from H o w a r d Fast, Tikhonov, Ehrenburg, Boris Polevoi on behalf of the U n i o n of Soviet Writers, T i e n H a n , Chairman of the Union of Chinese Stage Artistes, China-India Friendship Association, Peiking, Secre­ tariat of the W . F . D . Y . , Secretariat, I.U.S., B i m a l Roy, K . Subra­ manyam, Romesh Chandra, Nirmala Joshi, D r . Dhiren Sen, S. L a l i t Singh, Guru Atomba Singh, Suryamukhi D e v i of Manipur, Padmadhar Chaliha, Ambeswar Chetia Phukan, Amblka G i r i Roy Chowdhury, Baroda Kanta Das, Kaliprasanna Bhattacharya, Prof. Priotosh Maitra, Hemanta Misra, Alakesh Borua and many others.

As Balraj Sahni read out the messages, the audience greeted them with tumultous ovations. A presidium consisting of Raghunath Choudhury, Anandiram Das, Narahari Burabhakat, Raban Nath, Guru K a m i n i Singh, Syed A b d u l Malek, Satyabhusan Sen,, Deben Basumatari and Niranjan Sen conducted the deliberations of the conference. It was attended by 395 delegates, fraternal delegates and visitors representing numerous sections, nationalities, communities and tribes of the State. Fraternal delegates from M a n i p u r and Tripura also participated i n the conference. T h e conference discussed the cultural problem of Assam and took important decisions. The main resolution on the tasks of the Assam I.P.T.A., enumerated 13 immediate tasks of the orga­ nisation. It decided to defend and develop the tradition of the national culture, to strengthen the fight for the preservation of peace, to uphold the equality of different tribes and nationalities, and to fight against all manifestations of chauvinism, and also to probe deeper into the cultural heritage of Assam. It decided to give special attention to defend national culture from being denationalised, as is being done b y the missionaries. The need of carrying the messages of the I.P.T.A. to newer sections, spe­ cially among the labouring masses and the peasants, was stress­ ed. Resolutions on Panchasilla, Peace, the Formosa question, annulment of the Dramatic A c t of 1876, protesting against the



differential treatment of the I.P.T.A. b y the State Government and abolition of the amusement tax were passed. The pitiable condition of the radio artistes of Assam was also brought to the fore b y another resolution. The undemocratic functioning of the Sangeet Natak Academy also came i n for sharp criticism and a resolution was also passed on it. T h e Secretary i n his report gave a short history of the past activity of the I.P.T.A. i n Assam, and laid down the tasks of the day. H e urged upon the artistes to realise that at the root of the crisis i n culture lay the crisis i n agriculture. Agriculture provides the main occupation of our people. H e urged upon the artistes to realise that the fight for bread and land was also an inseparable part of the struggle for a better culture. O n all the four days of the Conference cultural shows were organised, attended b y thousands of people. These functions continued late i n the night everyday. It simply tumed into a festival of the people. The refusal of the Govemment to relax the amusement regulations, forced the organisers of the con­ ference to restrict the shows, yet not less than 2O,Q0O thousand people witnessed the shows. The programme was undoubtedly the best so far presented i n any performance organised b y any organisation i n Assam. Here i n these performances one could see such distinguished artistes like Mogai Oza, the master pea­ sant drummer, Narahari Burabhakat, the great exponent of Assamese Satryia dance. G u m Kamini Singh, the famous mas­ ter of Manipuri dance, Bishnuprasad Rava, doyen of Assamese culture. D r . Bhupen Hazarika and others shining side by side with artistes of all India fame like Hemanta Kumar, Salil C h o u dhiury, Devabrata Biswas, Omar Sheikh, Suchitra M i t r a and Bengal I.P.T.A. artistes Mantu Ghosh and Shambhu Bhatta. In the Khashi, Bodo, Manipuri and folk dances of Cachar, i n the Satryia dances by Burabhakat, masterly performances of Mogai Oza, etc., the audience had the opportunnity to realise how the I.P.T.A. upheld the traditional and folk culture of Assam. In modern creative dances like the Pak-Markin Ballet, N i p Baruah's play-let Zamin or Gauhati I.P.T.A.'s radio-drama " E r a Batar Sur" and songs of Bhupen Hazarika, Brojen Baruah and others, the audience again had the opportunity to realise that it was not only keen in reviving the traditional culture but deeply interested in carrying it forward and forging it as a weapon for the struggle for a better and brighter life.



It was really heartening to find i n the shows and also i n the dehberations of the corrference, delegates from the h i l l areas like Khasi, Jaintia and Manipur sitting side by side with the delegates from the plain areas and discussing problems facing the cultural movement i n a friendly way and appreciating the best i n the culture of each of them. A n d the audience was deeply moved when Bengali artistes Suchitra Mitra, Hemanta K u m a r and Mantu Ghosh and others sang Assamese songs. It is heartening because it took place at a time when the vested interests are sowing the seeds of racial and national conflicts i n Assam. If people responded to the caU of the organisers, of the con­ ference magnificently the pseudo-lovers of the people were no less perturbed. N o pain was spared to wreck the conference. N o t a single Government-aided educational building was avail­ able for the housing of the delegates and a delegates' camp had to be built over-night i n the open field. But this d i d not dis­ hearten the workers and they worked with redoubled energy. It is not a small credit on the part of them to collect ten thou­ sand rupees within a month to defray the expenses of the •conference. W h a t was most regrettable, was the attitude betrayed b y the Govemment. Recently, several cultural conferences have been h e l d i n Assam. The Government relaxed the amusement tax regulations i n the matter of these functions where the State Ministers could have the opportunity to boss it over and speak authoritatively on culture. Even when the I.P.T.A. conference was being held at Gauhati, the Congress was holding a Political and Cultural Conference at Tezpur and it was exempted from amusement regulations. But the I.P.T.A.'s prayer for the re­ laxation was rejected outright. E v e n when the conference was i n session, the authorities threatened to stop the shows. T h e n to crown all came the order under the Indian Dramatic Perfor­ mances Act, demanding the submission of scripts before the dramas were put on the stage. B u t all these attempts proved futile. T h e unity of the masses and their enthusiasm swept off all barriers. O n the fourth day of the conference an impressive peace cai^avan of the artistes and delegates and visitors paraded the main streets of the city. Among them were Sree Balraj Sahni, Suchitra Mitra, Hemanta kumar, Salil Choudhury, Omar Seikh,



Devabrata Biswas, Bishnuprasad Rava, Raghunath Choudhury and other prominent personahties of the city. Suchitra Mitra led the singing squad. A n A r t Exhibition containing the exhibits from some famous artists of Assam and posters and photos from Russia, Hungary, C h i n a , etc. was also organised i n this connection. Nilima Baruah, the famous exponent of folk songs and dances of Goalpara and sister of late Pramathesh Baruah, declared it open. She ex­ pressed great satisfaction at the I.P.T.A.'s attempt to bring to light the hidden treasures of our country and also to revive folk art and culture. A new Provincial Council with 45 members and a new Pro­ vincial Executive with 27 members was elected for the coming year with Sree Bishnuprasad Rava as President, Guru Kamini Singh, Deven Basumatrai, Mogai Oza, Narahari Burabhakat,' Prof. A b d u l Malek and D r . Bhupen Hazarika, as Vice-Presidents, and Sree Hemango Biswas as General Secretary, and D i l i p Sarma, H e m a Sarma, Mukunda Bhattacherjee and Nagen Kakati

as Joint Secretaries, Sree Anil Das as Office Secretary and Satyajiban Bhattacharya as Treasurer. The conference ended with a grand cultural show and the delegates and the visitors returned with a solemn determina­ tion to take the I.P.T.A. deeper into the masses, learning from fhe masses and at the same time moulding the masses.


Now-a-days as I pass by the Gauhati Church Field, I feel like a Field-Marshal looking back at the battle field after the battle is won. The battle of ideas of coiurse, but I do not mean that metaphorically. It was a veritable battle against the most unforseen material odds arrayed against us by the demi-gods of Shillong. I had no iUusions of a smooth sail. Yet I had no idea that the custodians of a Free State, who have of late been evincing so much interest rather with a gusto, i n art and culture, could engage i n such a heinous conspiracy to stiffle a song of hfe and a dance of peace. •We have no public hall. W e have to erect a pandal with ac­ commodation for six thousand people at the minimum. W e re-




quire at least 800 corrugated iron sheets for the enclosure, and at least 100 turpauhns and screens for a cover over the head. Above all we have to collect six thousands of rupees i n two weeks to defray the expenses, so on and so forth. The task was stupendous and we were prepared for that. But we could not bargain for many more things to come i n our way. Our shock-troopers were aheady i n the field. Niranjan, our General Secretary, reached some days earlier from Calcutta i n response to my S.O.S. and took up the command i n his able hand. T h e drama began long ago. Gopalda, the famous foot­ baller of Maharana C l u b , known as the Truman locomotive,' along with untiring A n i l , K a m u and Sukla was i n charge of the pandal and stage. Beltola peasant youths volunteered their ser­ vices led by Bharat. E v e n the paid labourers began to feel that they were working in the company of a new set of men. They worked like inspired persons. O u r star collectors, Bishnu, Hiren, Prabhat, H e m a and Bharat were beating others i n the competition of collections for the conference. Bhupen, Joint Secretary of the Reception Com­ mittee, the persona-grata with the tin-gods of Shillong, was sent to the capital to approach the authorities for the exemption of the amusement tax. H e came back to tell us that our Finance Minister, Sree M o t i Bora, had given h i m his word of honour over a steaming tea-cup, that the I P T A Conference, as it was intended to promote the people's culture, would surely be ex­ empted from all taxes. So things were going on well. . . . But just a couple of days before the conference, misfortunes started coming in battalions. Our workers have zeal and skill, both. But even the Vulcan could not work without implements. Bamboos had been gather­ ed. The massive structure of the pandal stood there challengingly, but there was no turpaulins to cover it, no C.I. sheets to enclose it. One could only get them from Government sources but their doors were barred and bolted against us. Some pri­ vate business firms possessing those materials were approached but they were at the same time possessed of by Government permits and contracts. Telegrams and letters were pouring in. "The delegation w i l l exceed three hundred" said Deb a, our cool and calculating office-in-charge. Just then Parmeshda and Probudha, our food and accommpdation-in-charges, dropped i n worried and worn-



out after a heaven and earth search, to tell us that no school premises or public halls were available for housing the dele­ gates. The school had no classes, the inter-school tournament being held at the time—yet inspite of their desire to help us, the school management refused to allow the use of the premises, afraid of the grants-in-aids being stopped. But difficulties could not rob Parameshda of his humour. "If the delegates are peo­ ple's artistes, they must be prepared to sleep on God's green grass,"—^with these remarks he left. Expenses were running ahead of collection. W e were thinking of opening four counters for advance booking and hoped to meet thereby the increasingly swelling expenses. But a news from Shillong came upon us with a bang—exemption of amusement tax refused. It was i n a dejected moment of discomfiture, I was sitting alone, brooding over the Himalayan hurdles. Baroda who al­ ways warms us up with a cup of tea and a book of verse, came in and handed over a cablegram. Message from H o w a r d Fast ! The first message from beyond the seas to greet us—the indo­ mitable voice from the Prison house of American democracy. ' T o u r exciting conference w i l l be another step towards that time, not too distant when all the people of the earth i n all their wonderful and interesting variety will come to know each other and to exchange with each other what is best i n their heritage," concluded the message. H o w inspiring ! H o w profound ! I was shaken out of my momentary depression. I felt Howard Fast speaking to me, not from a Sky-scraper in N e w York but from the top of his barricade at Peekskill. I was on my feet. "Yes, comrade, that time is not too distant . . . ." Nineteenth morning. The first day of our conference. People woke up to see a miracle. Over-night a huge delegates' came with sheds had come into existence. The enclosure was com­ plete. O l d , worn out and stitched and patched up turpaulins covered the structure. A 4 0 ' X 3 0 ' feet stage with attractive decoration, an enclosure for art exhibition and an imposing gate with the I P T A "drummer" on the top of it stood there heralding the dawn. Our artistes Durjati, Dibakar, Profuha, Satyajeet and Probodh were the magicians with their brushes. Yes, a miracle, and a miracle done with the AUadin's lamp of to-day—^the people's unity for a people's culture. Delegates were reaching from all corners of Assam. Omar Sheik, Shambhu and Mantu had reached eariier. Balraj,



Suchitra and Debabrata were due that morning. M a n y doubted if they were reahy coming. Hence our expectation was mixed with an worried nervousness. B u t i n scheduled time they all reached by air. The barometer of enthusiasm of the city shot up higher and higher. Greetings were pouring i n from Ehren­ burg, Tikhonov, Polevoi, Tien Han, . . . . along with these I received also an envelope stamped with service ticket. I opened and got a message from the Secretary to H i s ExceUency the Governor of Assam, "Governor of Assam regrets his inability to grant exemption from etc " I wondered what, on earth, had the Governor to do with this business ! After ah the I P T A did exist i n the eye of His Excellency. Only a month ago how beautifully had he lectured from the rostrum of the A l l Assam Music Conference, held i n the field just close to ours, on the need for creating music for the masses ! Delegations from Manipur, Khashi and Jaintia Hills, Cachar, Goalpara, etc., were coming in. Still more messages were coming—^Harin Chatterjee, B i m a l Roy, Subramanyam, etc. . . . . Bhupen came running, excited and short of breath, "Here is a message from the District Magistrate. W e are to submit the scripts of the dramas for censor under the Dramatic Perfor­ mances A c t of 1876." Only a few days ago, there was a contro­ versy whether the A c t was valid i n Assam. But here controversy ended. Leaving aside the delegates' meeting I had to run for the A . D . M . ' s office along with Bhupen. It was getting dark. Huge concourse of men and women was hustling and jostling at the gate. Soda Moral, our G . O . C . and Dulal, second i n command, with their devoted retinue of volun­ teers were pasing through an ordeal to maintain order at the gate. A t the counters for enrolment of visitors and Reception Committee Members, Beni, A r u n and M i b o had a trying job. Deva, assisted b y Nirupama and Sati, was immersed i n files. O n the top of the gate, by the crafty hand of our technician Sukla, the drummer was shinning i n variegated colours like a living person, beckoning i n the dark, of the night . . . . T h e curtain was up to the tune of late L . N . Bazbarooah's patriotic song led by D i h p Sharma; Balraj's inaugural speech was simply brilhant. I had never heard h i m speaking so wonder­ fully, i n the auditorium all so silent and serious. N o chair, no bench. Sarees and suits sat on the plain earth covered with straw. But there was no grumbling.



The first act of the four-act drama was over. 'Quite good' was the general remark. Whole night preparations were going on for the next acts. Niranjan, our general secretary, who knew no sleep, was everywhere to check up and tackle whenever any difficulty cropped up. B u t the most thankless job, was of - Brojen's, the programme-in-charge and his associates, Satyajiban, Subrata and Amit. Theirs was really a whole might per­ formance, winnowing and sifting the heaps of items to prepare the next day's cultural programme. Next morning I opened the only English daily of Assam and searched i n vain to find any news of tlie Conference ; there was not a word about the grand cultural rally attended by thousands. Was it all an illusion or a dream ? I n exasperation I shouted at Priti, our Publicity-in-charge. H e i n turn rang up one of the sub-editors, "WeU Sir, three hundered artistes delegates from the hills and plains of Assam, inaugural speech of eminent screen-actor Bahaj Sahni, and the grand performance of last night, do they make no news for our esteemed paper ?" H e put down the phone only to tell me that he was told that the news­ paper ran short of staff as all the reporters were at Tezpur attending the Political Conference graced by Sri Dhebar's presence. . . . (the Congress President) In a quiet comer of the pandal, I found Suchitra intensely learning an Assamese song from Ramen. In the other corner was Debabrata, our "Gorgeda," equally serious in teaching Rose a Tagore song. Both proved to be the hit items. This is what we mean by cultural exchange. Crowds were gathering for the evening show. M o g a i O z a had not yet come. I was terribly perturbed. W e wanted to demon­ strate the genius of Assam who stands on equal footing with any i n India. O z a had gone to the Tezpur Conference. I gave up aU expectation. But "Hey Pesto !", as if from heaven dropp­ ed M o g a i O z a with his companion before me. Next moment we were i n e m b r a c e . . . . 'Tes, I had been to Tezpur Political Con­ ference but I canceUed it mid-way. M y body was there, but my mind was with this conference. There I got money but here I get honour," he said i n his peasant fervour and simphcity. Setting at rest speculations, Hemanta Kumar Mukherjee and Salil Chaudhuri reached on twenty-first morning. Mass enthu­ siasm was at its peak. F o r accompanying Hemanta Kumar and others on the Tabla, I met a staff artist of the Gauhati Centre,




A.I.R. H e was all willingness but regretted his inability. I understood later and heard that the staff artistes were even warned not to attend our function. So many A.I.R. Celebraties were i n fhe city, a rare occasion for a city like Gauhati. H a d they come to any other conference, the A.I.R., Gauhati, would have surely been after them for a special programme or a studio record. Two O'clock i n the day. T h e delegates session was going on. iGuni K a m i n i was i n the chair. I was reading out m y somewhat lengthy report. I was stopped abruptly b y D e b a and Priti, of •course with the President's permission. I was terribly irritated. " W h a t do you mean, interrupting me now ?" "Here is a thre­ atening note from the Superintendent of Taxes" replied D e b a calmly, and reminded me sternly that the Superintendent of Taxes could legally interrupt even when Balraj Sahni was speaking or Hemanta Kumar was singing or Shambhu was danc­ ing his "Runner Dance." "You are therefore hereby called upon to show cause as to why action u/s 11(2) of the said A c t should not be taken against you." M y G o d , what do they mean b y "Taking action" ? "Are they going to stop the function ?" Some lawyer should have been the I P T A Secretary. W e artistes are so ignorant of our sacred acts and laws. I left my report just where I was dealing with the handicaps in the way of the •cultural developments of the State. I again ran with Bhupen, O h , it was so nerve-wracking ! 21st afternoon.—The Peace Caravan passed on. O n motor trucks, holding pictures of peace doves and festoons were the delegates and visitors. The jeep carrying Raghunath Chou­ dhury, our oldest living poet and the President of Assam Peace Council, Narahari Burabhakat and Bishnuprasad Rava, Prof. Bhabananda Dutta, Bhupen Hazarika and Bahaj Sahni, led the Caravan. Moghai Oza, with his drum and enrapturing B i h u tune, Jes Peter with his guitar and Khasi songs, Aruna and Baldev with their Manipuri dance rhythm, Bodo dancers of Basugoan and Kokrajhar with their "Siphung" flute, all mingled with Hemanta Kumar, Suchitra, Omar, Mantu, Shambhu and Ramen i n a magnificient chorus of peace. A t Fancy Bazar, aU got down from, the trucks and marched on foot, singing the famous Assamese song of youth composed b y late Jyotiprosad, 'Come ye, the youth, the conquerors of the world." Suchitra sang herself hoarse. Nobody could stop her. As the Caravan



was returning back to pandal, a l l started dancing. Bodo girls led by Druneswari shook off their shyness and found i n Bahaj a good dancing partner. . . . B a r k i n g s from Manila and Taiwan echoed over the hiUs of Assam but the Caravan of Peace passed on. 22nd February—the last day of our conference. The chmax: Crowds knew no bounds. Gourisankar Bhattacharjee, M . L . A . , came to the aid of our volunteers at the gate. Thou­ sands returned finding no accommodation, enclosures were cracking. 'T have never seen crowds so tolerant and respectful." remarked one o l d gentleman. "Such a b i g conference passed off without any untoward incident" wondered another. T h e Conference is over. The concluding remarks of Bahaj's parting speech where he aptly and feehngly referred to the 'artistes behind the screen' are ringing i n my ears. I gratefully remember the anonymous friends and sympathisers but for whose ungrudging help and co-operation the conference could not have been possible. I think of the untiring volunteers like Nirmal, Thaneswar, Gopal Lala, Sukumar, and many others along with our Parameshda (Sen Gupta) who denied themselves the joy of witnessing the shows at the caU of duty assigned to them. I look forward to the day when there w i l l no longer be any legal and artificial boundaries and barriers dividing the artistes and the people and when i n the language of Howard Fast—^"All-the people of the earth i n all'their wonderful and interesting variety w i U come to know each other and to ex­ change with each other what is best i n their heritage." Hemango Biswas General Secretary, Assam State Committee Unity, June 1955

Circular IPTA

(All India Committee) 46, DharamtoUa Street, Calcutta. 1st September 1955. Dear Friend, O n fhe basis of the discussions done during S days session i n Ujjain from 23.7.55 to 25.7.55, the following conclusions were arrived at:



(1) It is highly regretable that most of the ofRce-bearers and Committee members d i d not realise the responsibility to attend such highly important meeting. There are some who have not attended a single A l l India meeting since the last conference. (2) R e : A l l India Conference: The Eighth National C o n ­ ference of the I.P.T.A. should take place either at Agra or at Ahmedabad (As there was no other invitation at hand). I t should be held i n fhe T h i r d week of January 1956, but if it b e impossible to hold the Conference i n this period for some reasons or other, it should be held sometimes after the month of M a y '56 and before October 1956 as majority of the provinces, viz., M a d h y a Bharat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan strongly object to holding the conference between February '56 and M a y '56, this period being examination months in schools and Colleges. A tentative plan and programme on the scale and scope of the conference should be worked by the A . I . OfBce bearers staying at Calcutta and it should be circulat­ ed to the Provinces by September '55 to get their suggestions. The next A . I . Committee meeting (whatever may be the attendance) w i l l Bnalise this plan, venue, date, etc., on the basis of the suggestions received from the provinces. (3) R e : Unity—It is pity that the Unity has to be suspended due to lack of active cooperation from the Units, yet an all out effort should be made to keep the Unity ahve and make it regular. If necessary, it should be made a by-monthly magazine. The primary condition for bringing it out is the conscious co­ operation from the provinces. If the provinces undertake the responsibility to raise the amount of Rs. 2,000/- within the next three months and if the Bengal provincial Secretariat takes ac­ tive interest and set up an efBcient and active team for running the C7n%—then it can be expected that the Unity may be re­ sumed from October, otherwise its publication have to be sus­ pended indefinitely. (4) The financial situation of the Central Office is precarious. If the provinces clear the aflShation fees for 3 years from 1953 to 1955 as soon as possible the A . I . office can be run to some extent. Further dues have to be cleared before the next A . L Conference.



Analysis of account passed (from Sept.-'54 to July-'55) Income Rs. 60/Expenditure Rs. 284/Deficit Rs. 224-0-0 (5) Constitution: N o province except Bihar has sent any suggestion or amendment on the constitution— it is strongly felt that immediate discussion should be started on that in the next A . I . Committee meeting. A l l amendments received from the provinces should be circulated by the A l l India Office. MISCELLANEOUS :

(a) Hindi Paper. If U . P . Branch takes the responsibility of oflBcially running Rang Manch or H i n d i Magazine i n any other name, all the H i n d i speaking branches w i l l help with materials and i n popularising it. A . I . Office wiU also help giving it p u b l i ­ city and supplying materials, blocks etc. U . P . Branch is request­ ed to send their decision on this point within a month. (b) Regarding Provinces: Provinces which have not yet com­ pleted their Conferences must complete their conferences or conventions before the A l l India Conference. Provinces are requested to fix up the dates i n advance so that any help need­ ed from A . I . Office can be extended. A l l the provinces and units are requested to maintain regular contact at least i n this period to make the provincial and A . I . Conferences—a success. (c) Regarding A.I. Office. In the present state of affair A . I . Office can only keep minimum correspondence and the General Secretary or Jt. Secys. can attend the Provincial Conferences i f necessary. The General Secretary is allowed leave for two months (upto October, 1955). D u r i n g this period Jt. Secretary—Sri N i r m a l Ghosh and Office Secretary Sri Santi Mukherjee w i l l run the office. The next A . I . Committee meeting w i l l be held at Patna i n November, 1955. A l l units were directed to popularise the I P T A resolution on Goa—an Indian territory where a liberation struggle was going on against Portuguese occupation. Niranjan Sen General Secretarxf 17


MARXIST C U L T U R A L M O V E M E N T IN INDIA I P T A New Delhi December 26, 1957

Eighth National Conference and Festival. Steering Committee Meeting on 26.12.57. 1.

(a) Three Commissions meet today i n the southern portion of the tent (outside) i n seperate groups. (b) Papers for discussion to be read out first. (c) Twenty minutes (at the maximum) has been aUotted for each paper. (d) Convenors of the Commissions wiU preside over the commissions and they w i l l first dehver their speeches to guide the discussions.


Shri Sudhi Pradhan placed his amendments on manifesto. The steering Committee is discussing his amendement along with other proposals. T h e Committee w i h continue discus­ sions on Manifesto tomorrow. Cyclostyled copies of the amendment of Sri Pradhan and Sri Hemanga Biswas are expected to reach the Steering Committee by this evening. The delegation leaders are requested to take their copies from Sri Sajal Roy Chowdhury who w i l l be available i n the Central Ofiice between 7 and 8 P . M .

3. S r i Tulsidas L a h i r i (Bengal) w i l l speak i n the beginning of the Festival Session on 27.12.1957. 4. T h e Steering Committee w i U meet tomorrow again at 10 a.m.


5. Unfortunately, the name of Sri Beni Mohanta (Assam) was dropped from the hst of the members of the Steering Com­ mittee pubhshed i n the first circular. It is to note that Sri Mohanta is also a member of the Steering Committee. Sudhi Pradhan Convenor, Steering Committee



Steering Committee Meeting on 27.12.57 1. T h e Steering Committee is discussing manifesto. A draft­ ing Committee has been formed with foUowing gentlemen. Sliri ' „ „ „

SenghalNirmal Ghosh R. M . Singh N . Singh

— — — —

Rajasthan. W . Bengal. Bombay. Punjab.

2. Drafting Committee meets to-day at 11 p.m. i n the food and accommodation room. 3. D r . J. C . Jain w i l l speak i n the beginning of the Festival Session on 28.12.57. 4. T h e Steering Committee meets to-morrow (28.12.57) at 10 a.m. Sudhi Pradhan Convenw, Steering Committee






and Festival December New




Hints for a new Manifesto (Submitted by Sri Hemanga Biswas, Assam) About f o m years have elapsed since the existing Manifesto of the I P T A was drawn and passed b y the Bombay Conference of our organisation. This long period has witnessed many remark­ able changes i n the life of the nation and of the world as a whole. A n y significant alternation of circumstances necessarily caUs for a re-evaluation of our understanding and the consequent reformulation of our tasks i n the domain of our movement. But before any such re-assessment is made it is indispensable to recall and recognise the signal services and the salutary con­ tributions rendered by the Manifesto that has guided us so long. This document for the first time put forth a total perspective of the I P T A movement and chalked out the National cultural




tasks flowing from such a perspective. I n doing this it caUed for the defence and advancement of the best traditions of our national culture against the inroads of corrupt and ahen ideolo­ gies. It created a spirit of urgency i n the minds of the lovers of art and culture to mobihse the forces of peace i n the cultural domain against the dark propaganda of war and destruction. It defended the spirit of unity i n diversity against the sense of emotional isolationism fostered by national, racial or communal narrowness. A t the same time it called for the preservation and growth of the distinctive cultural life of ah the races and nationa­ lities of our land. It has shown us the way to achieving harmony between form and content by partcipating i n the hfe of the people, by calhng the masses of art i n aid for bettering the lot of the people so that art can really go to fhe people. Thus-wise it helped us to go a long way to build up a united national cultural organisation which the I P T A aspires to be. Subsequent experiences have proved the correctness of the lead given by the seventh conference of the I P T A . But despite these priceless virtues contained i n this docu­ ments, i n many vital aspects it has become out of date and out of tune with the spirit of time. The I P T A is the child of the anti-imperiahst freedom struggle of our people. It not only, drew its nourishment from this fountain source, but it refiUed and nourished it i n its turn b y its artistic presentations. Our best creations moved within this well-defined unilinear orbit. But since our achievement of independence and the develop­ ments that have followed since then, it is no longer adequate and not even passible to depend on the phase of a development that is no longer a reahty. Today, India is not only independent, but it has emerged as a world power with an immense international prestige and a highly significant role i n the international affairs. InternaUy she is attempting to remould her life i n all its aspects, to advance to a fuller and better life. Today, what is needed is the adequate appreciation of what has happened, and is happening, a healthy sense of national pride i n what we have become along with a confident sti'uggle



lo become more, to emerge into fullness, to close the serious yawning gaps through which the life of the people is stiU dis­ sipating itself. Precisely it is this that calls for a remoulding of our understanding. O u r creative efforts have failed to grasp what is new i n the situation. The result is that neither we can draw from the old fountain head of anti-imperiahst struggle, nor can we integrate ourselves with the new urges and aspirations of fhe people. W e stand puzzled at the cross roads, because we live u i some sort of a spiritual vacuum, being still unable to find the anchor of life. It is a notable fact that during the recent period, despite om: groping i n the dark, a spirit of cultural resurgence has gripped the.people who organise music conferences on their own initia­ tive, keep thronging the city thorough-fares under the cold lashes of winter night, absorbed i n the melody of classical music. This shows a popular keenness to rediscover the values of our national tradition of art and also shows that the people's standard of appreciation has gone higher. Similar is the case with the growing popularity of folk songs. I n the wake of this growing popular consciousness the State for the first time since the days of the Moghul rule has come forward as a patron of art, culture and literature, as it is evidenced i n the creation of Sangeet Natak Akadami, L a h t K a l a Akadami, Sahitya Akadami, i n the organisation of the Drama Festival and the Folk dance festival of the 26th January, i n holding D r a m a Seminars and F i l m Seninars and. i n granting aid and awards to reputed artists and literary figures and also i n organising definite welcome gains for the people provided we can read the sign of time, adjust ourselves with the altering circumstances and give a pro­ per directions and perspective to the art-movement i n our country. (He refers to the Government of India's activity—Ed.) A fuller perspective means the view and review of life i n its totahty which means freedom from the piecemeal and the stereo­ typed, freedom from the urge to find a formula. Our perspec­ tive should be the cultural reconstruction of our country as an indispensable part of our national reconstruction. This certainly does not mean that our cultural reconstruction w i l l be an artistic replica of economic reconstruction. The I P T A stands for clearing the way to an unimpeded spiritual flowering of the soul of man




and society. Hence the stiuggle of the people for a better life must be brought within the whole broad compass of human feelings and emotions, instincts and aspirations, as a part of their attempt to achieve a higher unity, to preserve, rehabihtate and further ennoble the human values that have gone to make and remake man since the dawn of human civilisation. In today's context when man is going to banish war and destruc­ tion forever from the scene of civilisation, such a task calls for fight against decadent values and for fostering a spirit of uni­ versal brother-hood of man along with inculcating a deep sense of national pride. If we understand this well enough we shall be still better able to fight for removing the bottlenecks which are impending the dissemination of art and culture among the people as a whole, we shall feel the urgency of fighting the bureaucratisation of cultural organisations as it is evidenced i n the cases of the State-sponsored cultural associations and also i n fighting the governmental discrimination against the I P T A . W e shall be better able to draw attention of the artists and litterateures and the democratic people as a whole to the meagre allocation of funds i n the five year plan for the cultural advancement of the nation and hence to devise ways and means to remove this lag. W e shall then be i n a stronger positipn to achieve better living conditions for the artistes on whom lies the heavy responsibility of re-fashioning the cultural life of the society. This way we shall be able to mobilise all i n the concerted manner, irrespec­ tive of their organisational affiliation, for the cultural upliftment of the nation through richer and grander creations. Only thus w i l l open up the prospects of I P T A becoming a united national organisation of art and culture i n our land. Amendment to the Manifesto submitted by Sri Sudhi Pradhan, W . Bengal W e , writers and artists, singers and dancers, painters and musicians and technicians of the stage and screen dedicate ourselves anew at this A l l India Conference of the I P T A , to the creation of an art portraying the lives, struggles and dreams of our great peoples, and their striving for peace, democracy and liberation from all forms of injustice.



W e dedicate ourselves to the singing of their joys and sorrows, to inspiring them with a rich vision of reahty to w i n a peaceful and prosperous hfe and its expression, so that cultural starvation may be ended i n this rich land whose beauty and natural re­ sources are ours. The I P T A , as the public is aware, was b o m i n a crisis of our history. F o r about 200 years foreign imperiahsm had not only extended its political and economic domination over our coun­ try but penetrated devastatingly into the art and culture of our ancient land. The result was, on the one hand, political and economic enslavement and on the other hand, some sort of cultural bondage to the requirements of that foreign power. T h e very basis of our art and culture has throughout history, been more or less rural, regard being had to the fact that teeming milhons of our country had developed their way of liEe, their attitude towards problems confronting them i n a pastoral and rural setting. W i t h fhe advent of the British and its technolo­ gical civilisation that foundation of our art and culture had been shaken. A n d the artists, writers and technicians scattered throughout the country had been thrown to the mercy of a dominant and exploiting alien culture. W i t h the advent of the British all the instraments and apparatus of art and cultiu-e, its manner, mode and pattern had been concentrated on the cities and big towns. The life blood of this new development expressed itself through the growth of amusement industry on the basis of gramaphones, radios and cinemas whose primary aim was to commercially exploit the stage and screen, and through them literature, painting, songs, dance, drama, etc., for one purpose only, i.e., earning of profit for the capital em­ ployed. The content of this art and culture centred round the theory of pure entertainment and its technique based on new inventions of science depending on modern conditions of elec­ trified cities and towns. The result was on the one hand, deve­ lopment of a huge amusement industry, yielding amusement and other taxes to the Government and huge profit to the foreign importers of phonograms, radios, machines and other cinema equipments, arid on the other hand degradation and neglect of our riiral culture, artistes, writers and technicians i n the cities being reduced to the position of workmen bereaved of decent means of hvelihood and of genuine urge for creative activity. It must be remembered that from the beginning the great




tradition of our art and culture offered a stubborn resistance to the importation of a breed that was ahen to them, while try­ ing to utihse the new instruments of art forms for social eman­ cipation movement. But this resistance was to a large extent broken down b y the foreign state machine and its rules and regulations, orders and decrees, laws and by-laws, promulgated b y the state from time to time. F o r example, dramas and songs inspued by patriotic impulses had been i n many cases banned and there have been occasion when writers and artistes who refused to abide by the social and ethical forms detested by the Statepower, had been subjected to all kinds of harassment i n ­ cluding i n certain cases even imprisonment. In the wake of this development, artistes and writers and technicians began to lose their creative faculty and were forced to be victims of commer­ cial exploitation. Against this background, i n the period of the second W o r l d W a r and rising tide of national hberation movement drawing its inspiration from it and from world cultural movement against war and fascism, for peace and freedom, the I P T A was borni. It developed, perhaps for the first time as an organised protest against the insidious development as outhned above. It was not merely a protest; it had also a creative role to play. Persons interested directly or indirectly i n the development and promo­ tion of culture, welcome our I P T A and offered their blessing to its activities. Its ideals inspired individuals and organisations to form a nucleus of a new cultural movement scattered through­ out the country catering a new type of art and culture as op­ posed to commercial culture based on pure amusement theory. E v e n the commercial world has been influenced and a potential, group of writers, artistes and technicians have come out against great obstacles to carry the ideals of genuine art and culture to the people even through the commercial medium. Notwithstanding these developments and the liberation of India from British rule, there are still remnants i n our midst of the foreign imported patterns of art and culture. Restrictions StiU exist so that artistes and persons interested, cannot work on their own and make positive contributions to the needs and requirements of developing India. Progressive groups inside the commercial world face unequal competition of wealth and tech­ nical resources.



It is true that steps have been taken by the Government of India and State Govemments for what they describe as fhe promotion and advancement of art and culture. They have for instance set up academies of art. B u t it is clear that there is no definite and positive pohcy behind this move. It lacks initiative and coordination. Besides state-sponsored academies do not know what their relations are vis-a-vis their central counterpart and vice-versa. Furthermore, the regulations left by the British in regard to the control of art and culture are still on the statute book uiider the auspices of a purely independent Indian ad­ ministration. Again the various devices calculated to use art and culture for ulterior political and commercial purposes which had been adopted by the British are still there. Nothing has so far been done by the Union Government and for that matter State Govemments to set u p Centres of A r t and culture to enable the people to be educated and trained in the technique of crea­ tion and production deemed so essential for the furtherance of art and culture. Our leaders who have been running the administration for the last 9 years, stand committed to the sociahstic pattern of society. W e take it that, it is not an empty phrase. A socia­ listic pattern implies not only an economic revolution but a cul­ tural revolution as weh. It is unfortunate that the authority has hitherto given little or no attention to the cultural aspect of the solemn pledge which it has taken. It is demonstrated by the simple fact that it has not yet set up a cultural ministry to promote research and disseminate by various means of know­ ledge appropriate to the cultural requirements of our society. Not-only that it has given no place to art and culture i n the 2nd Five-Year Plan which looms now in the picture, it has hitherto failed to take measures to provide conditions for decent means of livelihood for artistes and technicians and give them a sense of security. It is evident that the task confronting the I P T A is tremen­ dous. Its resources are slender although within the country and outside the I P T A , forces are emerging which are trying to develop art and culture keeping i n view the variegated pattems that our people have throughout the ages evolved i n course of history. It w i l l also be a duty of the I P T A to impress upon the State its responsibility i n this matter and point out from time




to time where it has failed hitherto and is faihng i n the per­ formance of its pi-imary duty. In doing this the I P T A w i l l always extend its hand of cooperation i n performance of the task as outhned from time to time. The I P T A wiU also seek to address itself to the people and rally support i n a cause which is as dear to us as it is to them. For it is to the people that the I P T A owes its origin and dis­ charges its duty ceaselessly. The people is the final judge of the I P T A . Along with our peoples' movement for freedom, peace and democracy the I P T A declares that our art and cul­ ture must liberate itself from the inhibition and prejudices of a feudal, semi-feudal and a purely commercial pattern. O u r art and culture must have regard to the forms that have deve­ loped over the centuries i n various parts of this country and impart to them a new social content, that content is libera­ tion of humanity from want, ignorance and injustice. In this process our art and culture must seek expressions b y the propagation of peace and goodwiU among mankind. W e , the artistes, writers, technicians and others specially interested i n promotion of art and culture, assembled under the banner of the I P T A dedicate ourselves to the stirring words of the sage Bharat who uttered more than 2000 years ago: "There is no wise maxim, no learning, no art or craft, no device, no actions that is not found i n drama. T h e drama w i l l be instruc­ tive to all through actions and states depicted i n it, and through sentiments arising out of it. I t w i l l conduce to duty, wealth as well as fame, w i l l contain good counsel and coHections of other material for human well-being, w i l l give guidance to peo­ ple of future as weU i n all their actions, w i l l be enriched by the teaching of ah arts and crafts, w i l l educate people." Let us march ahead under this banner. L e t us strive earnest­ l y to carry the State as weU as the people along with us i n the pursuit of this high social endeavours. L e t us spread the mes­ sage of Bharat Natya Shastra which is also our message among people who may not be within this organisation but who prize and cherish those ideals i n art and culture which the I P T A has made its own.







T H E I N D I A N P E O P L E S ' T H E A T R E ASSOCIA-nON (Adopted at the 8th National Conference held at Delhi from December 23, 1957 to January 1,


(Recognized by Sangeet Natak Akadami)

D E C L A R A T I O N (Adopted at the 8th National Conference

of the IPTA, Delhi)

W e , writers and artists, singers and dancers, painters and musicians, technicians and cuhural workers of the stage and screen, assembled under the banner of I P T A at this 8th A l l India Conference held at N e w Delhi do once more solemnly declare: That we believe the arts we pursue have i n them qualities that broaden man's mind, stimulate his imagination, widen his vision and liberate him from prejudices, selfishness, lust, fear and inhibitions, and inspire him to help realise a higher order of existence where social justice and unbounded opportunities are not denied to man. That we believe all arts owe their origin to the common man and that unless we gather strength from that perennial source of all arts, all our artistic endeavours are bound to be wasted in the morasses of formalism and dogmatism, leading to a state of separatism that would neither be beneficial to us nor to the common man. That we beheve that the classical arts our masters have ex­ pounded and bequeathed to us have in them irresistible strength that.stirs the minds of.the people giving them an ideal of hfe's limitless horizon. That we beheve that if we effectively carry our urban arts to the masses in the villages and bring to the city dwehers the arts of the people, the present separation between social components w i l l cease to widen and a union of hearts through our aits is bound to follow.



That we beheve the arts cannot prosper i n an atmosphere of violence, mistrust, arrogance and selfish designs. W e denounce any such expression i n any of our arts and i n any quarter. That we believe that our noble arts can be corrupted and we find that they are being corrupted by designing persons and profit—shunting ventures. W e declare that we w i l l not surrender ourselves to any such design as make ourselves unworthy of the arts we profess to be ennobling. That any artistic creation that helps the progress of ple is our own art. A n y art organisation that helps the man to achieve fulfilment i n hfe, any venture that puts mon man i n a better living condition, is assured.of our tion and fraternal association.

our peo­ common the com­ coopera­

That we believe our dance, drama, songs and poems should have a national spirit and flavour if they are to be at a l l effec­ tive. W e also feel that writers must not be deprived of their choice of using the language they find suitable for their expres­ sion. To all lovers of culture, to ah who wish to see the growth of a healthy Indian tradition and its development i n ever richer and newer forms, to all who wish to see our people free from poverty and backwardness and to see them prosperous and happy, we address this call today: • F o r the free flowering of arts, • F o r fuU freedom of artistic expression, • F o r the best training of artists and technicians, • F o r the security of artists and technicians. Preamble Indian Peoples' Theatre Association is a national organisation for developing theatre arts i n the service of fhe people, to carry forward our rich folk, modern and classical tradition of arts, to .fight against impediments i n the way of developing theatre movement and to fight for living conditions and rights for thea­ tre art-workers and writers, its membership being open to all irrespective of caste, creed and religion who w i l l devote their time and talent i n carrying out the Aims and Objects of Indian Peoples' Theatre Association.



N a m e : Symbol: F l a g (1) The name of the Organisation shaU be The Indian Peo­ ples' Theatre Association, hereafter referred to as I P T A . (2) Base of the F l a g shaU be deep blue on which a figure of a drummer with a drum as painted by Shri Chitta­ prasad w i l l be imprinted i n golden colour. (3) T h e symbol of the Association shaU be a drummer with a drum as painted by Shri Chittaprasad. Article I : Aims and Objects (1) I P T A , i n its work, respects the rich cultural heritage and national tradition i n theatre arts carrying forward its best and healthy elements giving expression to fhe aspirations of the people. (2) I P T A dedicates itself to the creation of an art porti-aying the hves, struggles and dreams of our people and their striving for peace, better hving conditions, fuUer life and liberation from all forms of injustice. (3) I P T A works for full and equal opportunity for the dev­ elopment of languages, culture, stage, folk-art and litera­ ture of various regions of India. (4) I P T A i n its work tries to develop Indian forms i n the theatre arts, speciaUy the folk forms and tribal forms i n a popular way maintaining the vigour and strength of these forms. (5) I P T A strives for the developing of a healthy theatre art tradition to fight the pernicious influence of harmful and outmoded ideologies and of war-hysteria, pornographic art and literature and such films as distort and evade reality. (6) I P T A i n all its work strives to achieve the highest stand ard of production and the proper fusing of form and content. (7) I P T A seeks inspiration from the epics and great dramas of the past and absorbs fhe experience of arts of ad­ vanced countries, developing close Hnk with the theatre movement of those countries. It further develops close hnk with writers for a regular flow of plays, songs and other written materials.




(8) I P T A strives constantly to improve the hving conditions of writers, artists and technicians so that our arts may flourish. (9) I P T A works to develop movements to remove ah the impediments i n the way of theatre arts i n this country, viz., lack of theatre facilities, present censorship system. Dramatic Performance A c t of 1876 and entertainments tax. I P T A keeps i n view the idea of building its own stages and running Libraries, training schools and re­ search centres. (10) I P T A strives whole-heartedly to enhst the co-operation of ah theati-e artists and workers, organisations and writers who are putting up valuable work i n developing theatre arts i n India i n the face of obstacles i n the way of building up a national thriving peoples' theatre. Article I I : Component Parts The Indian Peoples' Theatre Association shall comprise of: 1. Members all over India under Article III. 2. State branches of I P T A . 3. Other Theatre Associations of the state where I P T A does not exist, directly affiliated to all-India body. 4. A l l branches of I P T A i n a State (where State branches do not exist) directly afiiliated to all-India body. 5. National Executive Committee, hereafter referred to as National Executive may comprise, of—-Committees or Bureaus organised b y National Executive. Article I I I : Section I :

Membership ,


(a) A n y person who subscribes to the aims and objects of I P T A and works i n realising those in any capacity wiU be eligible to becoine a member of a primary unit of I P T A in any state Or unit affihated to aU-India body, i n which state such I P T A units are non-existent. (b) There shall be a regulai- annual membership fee payable by each member to I P T A .



(c) The year of membership w i h be reckoned from 1st of A p r i l to 31st M a r c h (d) A n y member of I P T A has the right to vote or get elected in the election held according to the provisions of elec­ tion laid down. (e) A n y member can forego his membership after duly in­ forming i n writing the primary unit of which he is a member. (f) N o member of I P T A can work against the aims and ob­ jects laid down in the constitution or violate it. Article I V : State Branches (a) There shall be an autonomous branch of I P T A i n each state having primary units as weU as aiBhated units if necessary spread over the state. (b) The present boundaries of each state wiU be generally the boundaries of state branches of I P T A at present though I P T A believes i n functioning i n linguistic areas removing the artificial boundaries existing i n different areas. (c) In disputed areas National Executive w i l l take necessary steps i n consultation with concerned state branches v i z . by setting up co-ordinating committees etc. i n the interest of I P T A movement. (d) A n y I P T A primary unit among minority sections in any state w i l l have the full right- to work i n its own language, art forms under the higher committee i n that state. (e) I n special circumstances the National Executive may per­ mit one unit to have the status of a state unit. Section I : A branch w i l l afiiliate to the A h India Centre on the condition that the branch shall agree— to pay the centre an annual subscription of 4 annas per member i n advance before 1st of A p r i l and also submit a return showing the strength of membership at the beginning of every year ; to pay National Executive any other subscription or levy that may be laid down by the latter having regard to




the strength of that branch and the financial capacity ot the constituency; (c) not to act i n any manner prejudicial to the collective i n ­ terest of I P T A ; (d) that the full status of state branch w i l l be given when there w i l l be at least three functioning units of I P T A . Section 2 :

Rights and obhgations

Every State Branch shall: (a) Subject to the general control and supervision of the National Executive on behalf of the centre be i n charge of the aflFairs of the branch within its jxuisdiction and to that end frame its constitution and rules, not inconsistent with this constitution. (b) Submit quarterly reports of work i n the constituency to the National Executive. (c) Arrange and take part i n the zonal meetings along with Vice-Presidents, Jt. secretaries of the National Executive and secretaries of the constituent states. (d) Pay to the centre the fees received from the delegates before the confrence commences. Article V : Election of Delegates to the All-India Conference (a) Persons enHsted as members under Article III at least 8 months before the date of conference to be fixed b y National Executive, shall be eligible to vote i n or contest the election of delegates. (b) E v e r y State branch w i l l keep a list of its members qua­ lified to vote under (a) and shall proceed with the elec­ tion of its delegates when called upon to do so b y the centre. (c) Every State branch shall elect its delegates i n the follow­ ing maimer: One delegate for every 15 primary mem­ bers or a fraction thereof. (d) T h e branch or any unit directly afiihated to A I C which has not completed its election on or before the date fixed by National Executive may at the discretion of National Executive be entitled or disentitled to be represented at the AU-India Conference.



(e) A certified list of delegates shall be submitted to the A h India centre b y the state branch within the date fixed by A l l India centre i n that behalf. (f) A l l the members of National Executive of I P T A shall be delegates to the A l l India Conference. (g) Every delegates shaU on payment of a delegation fee to be fixed b y National Executive at the office of the state branch obtain a certificate, duly signed by the State Sec­ retary. N o delegate who has not paid the fees shall be entitled to exercise any of his functions. Article V I : A l l India Conference (a) The A h India conference w i l l be held at least once i n 3 years at the place decided upon b y the preceding session or such a place as may be determined b y National E x ­ ecutive. T h e date on which the conference w i l l be held w i l l be determined by National Executive. A prior notice of at least 3 months must be given for the conference. (b) The branch concerned shall make all arrangements for holding the conference under the instruction and guid­ ance of National Executive. (c) T h e conference shall be presided over by a presidium selected by the outgoing National Executive. (d) (i) The steering committee for the business session of the conference shall be elected b y the delegates at their first session. The steering committee for the business session w i l l con­ sist of 3 members from the outgoing National Executive and one member from each state with the power to co-opt. The outgoing National Executive w i l l submit to it the draft programme of the work for the session including resolutions, if any, recommended by the state branches. The steering committee w i l l finalise the programme and draw up the order of business. (u) The steering committee for the Festival session w i h be selected b y the outgoing National Executive. (e) O n the motions being put to the conference, the President shall call for show of hands i n favour of and against the motion and declare the result. (f) T h e Conference w i h elect the President, four Vice18




Presidents (one for each zone), the General Secretary, four Jt. secretaries (one for each zone), the treasurer and one representative from each state for National Executive, (g) The A l l India Conference w i l l elect persons of eminence in theatre world and/or having record of service to I P T A as F E L L O W S of the Inidan Peoples' Theatre Association. Article V I I : Special Session National Executive may upon its own motion or upon a joint requisition addressed to it by at least three state Branches, call for a special session. Article V I I I : Section I :

National Executive

National Executive is the highest body i n :

(a) between the conferences and it shall carry-out the pro­ gramme of work laid down b y the A l l India conference and also deal with new matters that may arise during its term of office in accordance with article I. (b) National Executive shall consist of the President, 4 VicePresidents, the General Secretary, 4 Joint Secretaries, the Treasurer and one member (representative) from each State Branch. National Executive shall have the power to co-opt upto 3 members for any particular meeting. Section 2 : (a) National Executive w i l l take steps to constitute a state Branch where it does not exist. (b) T h e outgoing National Executive shall have to place be­ fore the A l l India Conference the full report of its work. (c) National Executive w i l l superintend, direct and control in general the state branches for implementation of the policy and programme of I P T A and take such necessary steps as required. (d) One third of the voting members w i l l form quorum of National Executive of which at least 3 will be other than office-bearers. (e) National Executive must meet at least twice a year.


Section 3 :


Ex-oificio Members

The retiring President and General Secretary w i l l be exofficio members of National Executive without power to vote. Article I X : Secretariat National Executive w i l l elect from amongst itself as far as possible a Secretariat, whose members w i l l not exceed 5, the majority being officte-bearers, to be called " A l l India Secretariat of I P T A " . Functioning: (a) The Secretariat w i l l function under the guidance and control of National Executive. (b) Its function w i l l be to implement and execute the pro­ grammes, policies and decisions of National Executive, manage Sub-committees, etc., i n between sessions of N a ­ tional Executive. (c) The Secretariat would supervise and arrange for the day to day functioning of the All-India Office of I P T A . Article X : Funds (a) The treasurer w i l l be in-charge of the funds of I P T A and shaU keep proper accounts of all investments, income and expenditure, to be periodicaUy submitted to the Secre­ tariat and National Executive. (b) T h e bank account is to be operated jointly b y the Gen­ eral Secretary and Treasurer J:hrough a bank decided by National Executive. Article X I : Vacancies Vacancies created shall be fihed by National Executive. Article X I I : Rights and Duties of the Office-bearers President: 1. The President shah preside over meetings.



2. H e shall have the authority to issue statements wherever necessary i n the interest of I P T A consistent with the Aims and Objects of I P T A . 3. H e shall give rulings i n case of a controversy regarding interpretation of any rule. 4. H e shall have the authority to take up the duties of the General Secretar>' or any joint Secretary when the General Secretary or any Joint Secretary is indisposed, inactive or disabled. Vice-Presidents: 1. The Vice-President nominated b y the President shall per­ form all the functions of the President i n his absence. 2. T h e four Vice-Presidents shall be in-charge of organising I P T A activities i n their respective zones and preside over meetings of the secretariats of the states of their respec­ tive zones. General Secretary: 1. H e shall be in-charge of the central office of I P T A and shall convene a meeting of National Executive on the re­ quisition of one third members of National Executive. 2. H e shall implement the decisions of National Executive. 3. H e shall be paid at least a sum of Rupees one hundred per month as honorarium. Joint Secretaries: 1. Jt. Secretaries shall jointly and severally help the General Secretary i n discharge of his duties. 2. E a c h Joint Secretary shall be placed in charge of one zone of I P T A as scheduled b y National Executive. Article X I I I :

Associate Members

A n y theatre organisation which wants to work i n co­ operation with I P T A without being bound down to the organisational discipline and subscribes fully to the aims and objects of I P T A , can become associate member of I P T A , i n any state at any level or directly of All-India body of I P T A where no branches or affiliated organisa-



tions exist, with the obligation to work for the realisation of commonly drawn up programme and keep regular contact. Such associate members shall have the oppor­ tunity to send their representatives to the A l l India Con­ ference. Article X I V : Change i n Constitution The Articles of the Constitution can be changed if ac­ cepted i n the open Session of the A l l India conference b y two-thirds majority. Charter of


I The Eighth National Conference and Festival of the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association i n its open delegates' session do resolve the following: F o r flowering of arts, for training of artists and technicians and for providing security of bare necessities of life to them we strongly feel that the Union as well as State Governments should make provision for the following: 1. Music, dancing, etc., should be taught as subjects from secondary school to college stage under specially trained staff. 2. Special provisions should be made for social benefits, oldage pensions, homes for disabled artists and technicians, writers, musicians, dancers, etc. 3. A research department for enquiry into the state of folk arts, condition of folk artists and for suggestions to improve their arts and living conditions must be made. 4. A Library i n eveiy State for books and other materials relating to songs, folk arts, dances etc. must be built. II The Eighth National Conference and Festival of the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association i n its open delegates' session has formulated and passed the following resolutions: W e , the delegates, feel that for proper development of film industry and giving incentive to those who are connected with




cinematography i n the capacity of actors, technicians etc. Union Govemment should establish: (a) A F i l m Council representing artists, technicians, educa­ tionists and cinemagoers. (b) A F i l m Institute to be connected with technical Univer­ sities. (c) A F i l m Finance Corporation to help the development of Art, Scientific, Educational and children's films. It is further resolved that there should be provision for em­ ployment, old-age benefits, homes for disabled artists and tech­ nicians. There should also be a regional library for films. Resoltttions The Eighth National Conference and Festival of I P T A held i n N e w D e l h i i n the month of December 1957 i n its open Dele­ gates' Session, formulated and passed the following resolutions: I. W e , the delegates of the Enghth National Conference, express our deep appreciation for the co-operation shown b y the Sangeet Natak Akadami i n the matter of aid and recognition. II. W e feel that the Sangeet Natak Akadami has given cor­ rect lead for promotion of Dance and Music i n the coun­ try, according to the stand taken b y it and the I P T A agrees mainly and supports it with all its force. III. In the opinion of I P T A it is absolutely necessary that Dramatic Performances Act of 1876 should be imme­ diately repealed. IV. It resolves that the Central Govemment be requested to take up with the State Governments to remove Enter­ tainment Tax from all performances b y the artists which are not displayed through the medium of film. V . I n the opinion of this Conference, it is very essential if art is to be promoted and preserved that: (a) There should be open air theatres i n villages or towns where there is cultural awakening or there is traditional culture activity, (b) There should be State Theatres in each State.



(c) That where there are Municipalities with an income of Rs. 1 lakhs to 4 lakhs, they should help i n building an open air theatre i n cooperation with the public and other public bodies. Municipalities with income of 4 lakhs to 10 lakhs should themselves build open air theatres. Municipalities with income of more than 10 lakhs should build theatres of their own. F o r this purpose as recom­ mended b y the Sangeet Natak Akadami the Central Gov­ ernment should recommend to the State Governments to make a provision i n the local Municipal Acts. A central committee of the technicians of the stage of both rural and urban artists should be formed to advise about the technical details so that all the theatres are upto the standard and cover modem needs and have aesthetic outlook. This Conference, therefore, resolves that the Sangeet Natak Akadami's demands i n this respect are fully endorsed b y I P T A and we request the Central Government and State Governments and all other agencies in helping to implement the above two resolutions. The I P T A organisation with its ramification all over India and with the bond of worker-artist can do much for rapid promotion of art and its dissemination i n the public thus creating favour­ able conditions for cultural renaissance of India. The lack of funds has seriously hampered the artists so far. It is therefore resolved that the Sangeet Natak Akadami be requested to accept our proffered help i n furthering the cause of A r t by utilising our agency and also by active co-operation with our branches and artists even where they have their own separate agencies. It is further requested that as far as this organisation can efiSciently execute the plans of the Sangeet Natak Akadami for the better promotion of cultiu-al awakening and preservation of the traditional art, they can freely draw upon the talents of I P T A who shall work in closest cooperation and the aid that is being proposed to be given by the Akadami (as envisaged i n the recommendation of the Implementation C o m ­ mittee report in para 2 (III & IV) can thus be utilised most efficiently and effectively. It is therefore resolved that the I P T A members w i l l work i n closest co-operation with the agencies set by State Governments




or Sangeet Natak Akadami or other agencies such as U N E S C O who have taken up the work on educational and cultural spheres. It is further resolved that the Sangeet Natak Akadarni be re­ quested to take up with the State Governments and Central Govemment to have the I P T A Branches recognised by the State Govemments for the purpose of education, without further i n ­ sisting on registration under the Indian Societies Act. Affilia­ tion with the State Branches of Sangeet Natak Akadami should be recognised as adequate by the Education Department for aid and they should be treated on par with other institutions who are aided for taking up work of art and culture. II The Eighth National Conference and Festival of I P T A re­ solves that National Executive Committee w i l l work i n coopera­ tion with Theatre Centre of India and the State branches are free to decide on the method of working together with Theatre Centre of India. It is further resolved that the National Committee should sponsor a joint meeting of the representatives of National C o m ­ mittees of both the organisations to work out a common pro­ gramme and to find ways and means of working together. It is further resolved that State branches should take imme­ diate steps so that they can contribute their mite i n building the Asian Theatre Institute.

Ill The 8th National Conference feels the necessity of an organ to express our thoughts, exchange ideas and to spread I P T A movement i n the country. "Unity" was such an organ which could not flourish due to unavoidable circumstances. It is resolved that "Unity" should be revived and the National Executive should support an editorial board to conduct the affairs of the organ. The State branches must fulfil their quotas and work hard to increase its circulation. IV The 8th National Conference of the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association resolves that the Govemment of India be requested



to form a Ministry of Culture in the Centre and in States with a department of cinematography and a department of stage, music, dance, folk arts, etc. (Short Report on the 8th National Conference and Festival of the I P T A held at Delhi from December 23, 1957 to January 1, 1958) T h e Eighth National Conference and Festival of the I P T A was held at D e l h i from 23rd December 1957 to 1st January, 1958 after the National Conference at Bombay i n 1953. The Delhi I P T A along with the U . P . I P T A organised the Conference and Festival. D r . V . K . R. V . Rao, Vice-Chancellor of the D e l h i University, was the Chairman of the Reception Committee which was composd of eminent persons of Delhi. D r . S. Radhakrishnan, Vice-President of India, inaugurated the Conference. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, formerly Health Minister of India, opened the E x ­ hibition, depicting the evolution of the State and the growth and development of the I P T A . The Delegates' sessions discussed and passed the Declaration, Constitution, Charter of demands and other resolution of the IPTA. Festival sessions were held everyday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and again from 8.30 P . M . to 10.30 P . M . In the first half songs (chorus, solo, duet, folk, light, classical, etc.), dances (solo, folk, etc.), operas, ballets etc. and i n the second half, dramas were performed in the various major languages of India. Everyday the Festival session was opened b y eminent personalities. About 1000 delegates and artists from the following States attended the Conference and Festival: Andhra, Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Delhi, Himachal Ptadesh, Hyderabad, Madhya Pra­ desh, Tamilnad, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, U . P . , West Bengal, etc. Fraternal delegations from U.S.S.R. and China attended the Conference and Festival. Amongst the outstanding performances mention should be made of the ballet 'One Pice Flute' (W. Bengal), opera 'Bhagat Singh' (Punjab), 'Chhou Dance' (Bihar), 'Jalari Dance' (Andhra), 'Runner Dance' (W. Bengal), 'Naga Dance' (Assam), 'Manipuri Dance' (Manipur), songs b y Sri Hemanta Mukherjee, Sri A n i l Biswas, Sri Debabrata Biswas, Smt. Suchitra Mitra, Assam artists.





etc., Recitiation by Sm. Achla Sachdeva, Jatra 'Rahumukta, ( W . Bengal), Dramas 'Bhayam' ( A n d h r a ) , / N i l Darpan' (W. Bengal), 'Peer A l i ' (Bihar), etc. playlet 'Planning' (U.P.), etc., and per­ formances by Sri Sambhu Maharaj's troupe and b y Guru G o p i nath (Madras). Sri Bahaj Sahni performed i n a Punjabi drama and addressed the Delegates' session. T h e delegations from Soviet Russia and China addressed Dele­ gates' sessions. The Conference and Festival were highly successful and creat­ ed immense enthusiasm amongst the members and sympathisers of the I P T A and gave a great impetus towards its development. The I P T A was recognised by the Sangeet Natak Akadami just on the eve of the Conference. A strong and representative National Executive was elected in the Conference with M r . Sachin Sen Gupta as the President and Sri Niranjan Sen as the General Secretary. According to the new Constitution, four Vice-Presidents and four Jt. Secretaries for the respective four zones were elected and several Fellows of the I P T A were also elected. T h e Conference and Festival enhanced the prestige of the I P T A and the event stood as a landmark i n the recent cultural history of India. MESSAGES A N D GREETINGS

"Theatre occupies an important place i n the social develop­ ment and cultural awakening of a people. It is, therefore, only proper that the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association should be gaining strength i n India in recent years. I send my best wishes to the eighth national conference of this Association which is being attended b y a large number of delegates and artists from various States." Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of the

Indian Union.

Messages and greetings were also received from Smt. Kamala­ devi Chattopadhyaya. Shri K . P. Bhatnagar, Vice-Chancellor, Agra University, Omar Sheikh, Soviet F i l m Delegation i n India during the premiere of the film "Pardeshi", an Indo-Soviet ven­ ture, L u C h i , M a Szu Tsung and H o L u Ting, President and Vice-Presidents respectively of the Chinese Musicians' Associa­ tion, and Vietnam Theatre Artists' Association.



DR. R A D H A K R I S H N A N ' S A D D R E S S

Eh-. Radhakrishnan, who inaugurated the 10-day festival of the Indian Peoples' Theatre Association, advised artists assembled for the festival to work with the purpose of national and inter­ national reconciliation. India suffered i n the past, he reminded an audience of about 8,000 artists and art lovers, not so much becatise of the mischief of the outside forces as because of the defect,that came from within. T h e Indian mind was pre-occupied and depressed by so many inhibitory notions and superstitions which never occurred to Indians of earlier periods. The time had again come for shedding all notions of narrowness and forge a unity of all the peoples i n the country. T h e Vice-President recalled the great impact of understand­ ing and fellowship left b y some of the visiting foreign artists like Marian Anderson, the Rumanian artists and a Hungarian musician on D e l h i audiences and explained that art was not merely a tool of national unity but something more. Its impact cut across national boundaries and established a sense of one­ ness of all humanity. It was the rich heritage of Indian art that left lasting impressions on some of India's neighbouring coun­ tries. T h e purpose of great art, Radhakrishnan asserted, was to re­ concile man with nature, with his fellowmen and with the Supreme. Great artistes therefore, d i d not merely produce an effect of titillation but touched the depth of the human heart. It was thus said that no man was complete with mere physical fitness and intellectual abilities unless he had also adequately developed his aesthetic sensibility which expressed itself i n compassion. D r . Radhakrishnan wondered if people of the world would continue to depend on weapons of mass destruction or turn the course of history and the future of mankind by bringing to bear on their activities a sense of compassion. The present crisis was spiritual and not intellectual. The world today suffered not from a lack of knowledge but from a lack of wisdom and a spirit of humility. The world would indeed be so very different if only the statesmen would be a little more human and humane. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, former Union Health Minister, said in




N e w Delhi on Tuseday that art had a great role to play i n uniting the people of the country. She was inaugurating the exhibiiton "March of Theatre Through the Ages" i n connection with the E i ^ t h National Con­ ference and Festival of Indian Peoples' Theatre Association at the Ramlila Grounds i n N e w Delhi. She also emphasised the need of propagating the ideas of peace and prosperity through the medium of art. . Commending the activities of. the Association she said after independence the country was trying to restore all her cultural richness and in this, I P T A was one of the pioneer organisations. National Executive Committee OlHce Bearers President: Sri Sachin Sen Gupta, Calcutta. Vice President: Sri Sri Sri Sri

Vishnu Prasad Rava (East) Gauhati, Assam. Rajindar Singh Raghubansi (North), Agra. Balraj Sahni (West), Bombay. K . Subramaniam (South), Madras.

General Secretary: Sri Niranjan Sen, Calcutta. Joint Secretaries: Sri Nirmal Ghosh (East), Calcutta. Sri Radheyshyam Sinha (North), Patna. Raja Rao (South), Rajamundry, Andhra. Sri Mughni Abbasi (West), Malad, Bombay. Treasurer: Sri Sajal Roy Chowdhury, Calcutta. Office Secretary: Sri T i p u Dasgupta, I P T A Office, Calcutta. Members of Committee: 1. Sri Bimal -Roy, Bombay. 2. Sri Beni Mohanta, Assam. 3. Sri Baldeo Sharma, Manipur.


4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.


D r . A . K . Sen, Patna. Sri Gopal Ghosh, Cuttack—1 (Orissa). Smt. Sujata Davis, N e w Delhi. Sri Tera Sing Chan, Phagwara (E. Punjab). Sri Gayyur Qureshi, Ujjain (MP). Sri Mahabir Swami, Meerut (U.P.). Sri P. Kahnga Rao, Mysore. Sri Gajanand Verma, Bikaner, (Rajasthan). A . K . Hangal, Bombay. Sri Jashwant Thakkar, Baroda. Sri Mugabha Rajamanikkam, Madras. "Sri Rao (Members from Maharashtra and Kerala' are to be included later). 16. Sri D i g i n Banerjee (West Bengal), Calcutta.

Fellows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

Smt. Kamala Devi Chottopadhyaya, N e w Delhi. Sri Ahindra Chowdhury, Calcutta. Sri C . C . Mehta, Baroda. Smt. Rukmini Arundale, Madras. D r . S. M . Ghosal, Patna. E . Alquzi-Hashan, Bombay. Sri Vrindabanlal Verma, Jhansi. Sri Tulsi Lahiri, Calcutta. G u r u Gopinath, Madras. Mrs. Aruna Asaf A h , N e w Delhi. Sri P. K . Atre. Sri Vishnu Prabhakar, Delhi. Sri Hemanga Biswas, Assam.



The morning of M a y 11. The Sunderbai H a l l is filled with a multitude of voices; People are talking in Malayalam and H i n d i , English and Bengali, Marathi and U r d u . The eyes of all India are on to Bombay. Banners and doves mingle i n the hall and sunlight streams i n through all the windows. "India C a n Halt War." There is a bubbling feeling of hope and love. You shake hands with a poet from Kashmir and a short story writer from Allahabad. Here is a singer from D e l h i greeting you. White-haired D r . S. Kitchlew, leading Congressman and patriot, is taking his place on the platform. Grey-bearded, kindly Sardar G u r Buksh Singh, the novelist from the Punjab, who, when he speaks reminds you of ripened grain and the sight of playing children, is already seated. Suddenly the hall is quiet and the notes of a song by Rabindranath Tagore, rendered b y the composer A n i l Biswas, float through the hall. A powerfully-built man strides on to the plat­ form to welcome the 400 delegates and hundreds of visitors. It is the celebrated actor Prithviraj Kapoor, who with his head



lifted like an Athenian deity, caUs on the people of India to turn the movement for peace into a mighty mobilisation of men and women. Then D r . Kitchlew comes to the microphone. The A l l India Peace Convention has begun. People of all walks of hfe are here, people of ah views and political beliefs. Great men are here and small men, and men from the villages and men from the cities. The cream of India's writers and artists are here, for writers and artists are the milk and honey of every land and for them life without peace is un­ thinkable. Congress leaders, D r . Atal, who took the Congress medical mission to China, and Pandit Sunderlal, are here. Famous mathematician. Prof. D . D . Kosambi is here, and so is the renowned writer D r . Mulk Raj Anand. Here is a business man, M r . Sohanlal Duggar and here is D r . Z. A . Ahmed of the Communist Party of India. Here is the outstanding film pro­ ducer, M r . Phani Mazumdar, here is M r . R. K . Karanjia, Editor of the Blitz and here is a poetess from Bangalore, Begum Syad Akhtar. The All-India Peace Convention made history. It made his­ tory because as a gathering representative of all views, and of all the multifarious people who made up India. It was unique. But more than that, the All-India Peace Convention made history because it gave India's answer to the questiori of peace or war, now posed before the people of all the world. In the Appeal to Members of the Indian Parliament, passed unani­ mously, the Convention urged Parliament "to take the iniative to call a conference of the five Great Powers to discuss all out­ standing issues". The Convention called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the Asian soil and urged Parliament to declare that Indian soldiers, Indian bases, Indian raw materials and war materials shall be denied to foreign powers. The Convention made a decisive break with the past sec­ tarianism of the peace movement. It established decisively the fact that no differences can divide those who desire peace. Speaker after speaker stressed the fact that bombs are no res­ pecters of persons. The partisans of peace .showed at the Con­ vention that if there were differences of opinion and belief, these differences should be expressed not on the peace platform, but on other platforms. A n d so, especially significant was the speech made, on the one hand, by Sadhu Mohan Jairam Das, representative of 56 lacs




of sadhus, a frail man clad only i n a loin cloth, who said: "Those who hate peace want to destroy the world. W e are ready to give our sweat and blood to stop this. W e warn the war mongers—they w i l l be destroyed if they persist in their schemes.'^ A n d equally significant was the contribution made by M r . Sohan L a i Duggar, a businessman from Rajasthan, who pledged his support to the peace movement. W h i l e however, the Convention laid the basis for the widest mobihsation in the cause of peace of India's millions, it also showed up i n relief the tremendous amount of work that still remains to be done b y the partisans of peace i n India. Millions of ordinary men and women have still to be brought inside the peace movement and have to be made conscious of what war would mean to their everyday existence. Workers, peasants, and ordinary city folk have yet to come in their mil­ lions into the peace movement. That the delegates at the Convention were conscious of this fact was shown by the enthusiastic pledges given by all State delegations for the collection of signatiures to the Berlin Peace Appeal for a meeting of the Five Great Powers. A total pledge of 11 million signatures was given at the convention, with West Bengal making the biggest pledge—15 lacs of signatures. Probably the most significant fact about the Convention was the participation of writers, artists and lovers of culture gen­ erally, from all parts and the remotest corners of India. Realising that art and literature are the best ambassadors of nations, and can batter down the thickest walls of distrust and misunderstanding between countries, members of the C o m ­ mission for Cultural Exchanges between countries passed a re­ solution which is certain to have very far reaching effect in creating an atmosphere of peace i n the world. Meeting at the close of the Convention under the President­ ship of Sardar G u r Bukhsh Singh, cultural workers from various parts of India exchanged experiences and laid down future lines of action. Of especial interest was the report by the West Bengal dele­ gate, M r . Niranjan Sen, for i n West Bengal the Shanti Sanskriti Parishad, as an affiliated body of the West Bengal Peace C o m ­ mittee, is gathering together hundreds of prominent artists and many organisations, and has held two highly successful peace



cultural festivals, and is preparing, for a provincial festival and conference. Thus experience i n West Bengal proved that an organisation attached to the peace movement but specificallyconcerned -with cultural -work was i n an advantageous position to mobilise cultural workers i n the cause of peace. Equally iUuminating was the report from Kashmir, where writers, actors and artists work together, as members of one organisation, moving about i n the remotest villages and taking the message of peace to the people through their art. The Ka.shmir delegate, poet D . N . N a d i m , explained vividly what the culture of peace meant i n practice. "Rather than write slogans against warmongers", he said, "let us -write about the lovely things, the little vegetables of life. W e need a culture of peace rather than culture for peace". T h e foho-wing important decisions on cultural work i n the peace movement were arrived at: 1. A National Commission for Cultural Exchanges -with other countries has been set up, with its office i n Bombay. The C o m ­ mission w i l l be composed of elected representatives from each State. 2. This Commission w i l l also encourage cultural exchanges between States i n India and w i l l urge all State Peace C o m ­ mittees to set up cultural sections 4o inspire artists and writers to create works for peace. 3. The Commission -will plan a Writers and Artists Conference in October, which w i l l include a Cultural Festival. 4. T h e Commission w i l l consider a proposal that an Asian Cultural Festival be held i n India early next year, to which countries from Iran to Japan, and including the Soviet Asian Republics, be invited. Probably the most interesting announcement at the Cultural Session came from M r . Khwaja A h m e d Abbas who revealed that a number of prominent personalities i n the film world had offered their services for the making of three films for peace. The films would be produced by famous producer. P a l Chavda, directed by Phani Mazumdar, with rnusic b y A n i l Biswas, and a rich cast including Plithviraj Kapoor, Nargis, D i l i p Kumar, D a v i d and many others. T h e Commission is also considering issuing a Pledge for Peace which would be signed by all lovers of art and culture i n the country. 19




Messages of greetings poured into the Convention from all parts of the world and all over the country: F r o m poet Vallathol (Kerala), A . N . Krishna Rao (Karnataka), H a r i n Chattopadhaya (Progressive Writers' Association) and Rahman Rahi the general secretary Progressive Writers' Association, Kashmir. H e particularly urged the Convention to raise its voice against Anglo-American intervention i n Kashmir aimed at turning Kash­ mir into a war base. F r o m "Peoples China" Peaking: People's C h i n a journal sends fraternal greetings to the All-India Peace Convention, " L o n g live the friendship between the Chinese and the Indian peoples who resolutely oppose U.S. rearmament of Japan and whose unity w i l l safeguard peace i n Asia. H a i l the peace-loving forces of the world demanding the conclusion of Five-Power Peace Pact". F r o m Paul Robeson: (Tumidtous applause greeted, the message from the great singer, Paul Robeson) : I am happy to send my warmest greeting to the delegates attending the AU-India Peace Conference being held i n Bombay a week hence—and I trust the results of the Conference may be seen i n the added strength brought to the world peace move­ ment by the great democratic and liberal forces of India. One of the reasons why I am barred from travelling abroad is that I have long denounced the imperialist oppression of the peoples of Asia and Africa. A n d to-day when my o w n country, the United States, is the leader i n such Imperialist exploitation and aggression, I must most certainly raise my voice i n con­ demnation. I want you to know that there are many thousands of A m ­ ericans who stand with you i n your demand for "Hands off Asia" and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Asian soil. In the great M a y D a y demonstration held here in N e w York this was one of the main slogans on the banners and on the lips of the marchers. Discrimination and violence against the Negro people here mounts daily. Police state repression of the American workers and the American people increases ominously. Reaction is i n the saddle, and the reactionaries quibble among themselves i n their lust for powisr and more power, profits and more profits. But though our adversary is formidable, we refuse to step back an inch. Every attack of our adversary brings us new strength and



new supporters. I am sure that it is the same with you i n India. That great strength of the common people in your land and m y land and i n country after country throughout the world is the surest guarantee of our final victory—^justice and democratic rights for all men and peace for the world. Yours fraternally. N e w York, May 4, 1951 Paul Robeson T W O POINTS F R O M



W e lu-ge the Indian Parliament to encourage India's close cultural relations with the peoples of all countries b y removing all impediments, which contribute to loss of mutual under­ standing and create a climate of distrust, favomable to propa­ ganda for war. W e urge the Indian Parliament to declare their stand for bettering our cultural relations with all countries b y facilitating the organisation of the exchange of goodwill missions and of publication and wide distribution of the literature and art of all other countries i n India, and of India i n all other countries. W e urge the Indian Parliament to declare their stand on the following proposals and press for their acceptance b y the U . N . O . : (1) T h e unconditional prohibition of all manner of atomic weapons and of bacteriological, chemical, poisonous, radio-active and all other devices of mass destruction. (2) Immediate, simultaneous and similarly proportioned re­ ductions of all the land, sea and air armed forces of the Great Powers progressively from one-half to one-third of their present size. This would constitute a first step towards general and total disarmament, which is the final aim of the W o r l d Peace Move­ ment. R E S O L U T I O N S P A S S E D BY C O M M I S S I O N CULTURAL



T h e All-India Peace Convention calls for the strengthening of cultural relations between our people and the peoples of all countries of the world, with a view to ensuring peaceful collahoration and mutual understanding.




W e urge the Indian Government to encourage India's close cultural relations with the peoples of all countries, b y removing aU impediments, internal and external, which contribute to loss of mutual understanding and create a chmate of distrust, favour­ able to propaganda for war. T h e Convention decides to set u p a permanent National C o m ­ mission for Cultural Exchange and empowers the Secretariat to invite persons to serve on this Commission. T h e Convention entrusts this Commission with the foUowing tasks: (a) T o promote the exchange of cultural relations with all countries. (b) T o encourage the exchange of publications and works of art with all countries. (c) T o arrange for the pubhcation i n Indian languages of the best works of all countries and for the translation of Indian works i n foreign languages and their distribution i n other countries. (d) T o arrange for the exhibition of the best films, plays, paintings etc. of aU countries and to see to it that India's; best films, plays and paintings etc. are similarly exhibited i n aU the countries of the world. (e) T o organise exhibitions of educational and cultural achievements of various countries. The Convention authorises this National Commission for C u l ­ tural Exchanges to set up appropriate committees to undertake each of these tasks, and also to set up appropriate State C o m ­ missions to assist the National Commission i n its tasks. APPEAL T O MASTERS O F C U L T U R E

W h i l e the economic inteirests of the makers of war no doubt motivate the drive towards war, it is no less true that the minds of the people are being conditioned for war through propagation of prejudice, fear, hatred and enmity among people, nations and ideologies. T h e radio, the press, the film and the television are all being used to make people misunderstand and hate other people, and to accept the inevitability of war. Violence of lan­ guage and hysterical expressions are paving the way to outbreak of actual warfare. In view of the diabolical role that the mass media of com-



munication are playing i n this psychological war-conditioning of people s minds, the All-India Peace Convention calls upon masters of culture, writers, poets, dramatists, film-producers, screen-playwrights, publicists, journalists and radio-commentators —^in all countries, and beHeving i n whatever ideologies, to re­ alise their grave responsibility i n this regard, and to scrupulously desist from writing, publishing or propagating anything that: (i) directly or indirectly, creates i l l - w i l l or hatred between peoples; (ii) glorifies war or violence; (iii) misrepresents, holds u p to ridicule the cherished beliefs of any people; (iv) or i n any other way hurts the national or racial sentiments of any people. In particular, the Convention calls upon all the writers among the supporters of the peace movement to creatively use their pens for the propagation of the ideology of peace on the basis of human brotherhood, and of goodvnll and friendship among nations. D R A F T PLEDGE



Because we uphold the dignity of man, Beacuse we love the earth and its fruits, Because we cherish the smiles of children A n d the wrinkles of old age. Because we love the men and women of all lands A n d respect their culture and way of life, Because our hearts have grown like seeds Out of the soil of India, Because there is no life for us without our country Because we shall not allow the ancient monuments of our past T o be desecrated or destroyed. Because we revere 'Tagore and Iqbal, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, Because we demand grain and the sun F o r all men— W e , writers and artists, Singers and musicians. Scientists and dancers. Playwrights and poets.



Painters and sculptors, A n d all who love culture and mankind. Pledge ourselves to the cause o£ peace. Dedicate ourselves to the cause of life. Declare ourselves forever resolute i n the struggle against those W h o wish to destroy our earth A n d the treasmres of our past A n d the yet-buried treasure of the future A n d we declare that we shaU not rest U n t i l the people of om- country Answer with clamorous songs The resounding voices of peace i n fhe world— So that there shall be no war So that there shall be peace. UnUy, June 1951

APPEAL o/ the Preparatory Committee of the AU-India Cultural ference and Festival for Peace to all who love culture


Dear Friend, T o love life is human nature, and this love of life is the chief ingredient of all true works of art. It is to this normal human craving that the artist gives intensified expression through forms as diverse as life itself. Hence the spontaneous response that every caU for Peace finds i n the heart of the artist. Yet, today when the protagonists of a T h i r d W o r l d W a r are sparing no efforts to set the world ablaze, this natural love of life of the individual or the spontaneous humanity of the lonely artist is not sufficient to save the world from destruction. O n l y a collective, organised and systematic effort can do that. T h e artist must stand today i n defence of humanity armed with the weapons of his art. A n d i n this holy crusade, there can be no discrimination between great or small, between diverse outlooks and philosophies of life. The pen and the brush, the voice and the gesture, learning and all artistic talents must be wielded i n the battle of humanity against war. The task is an extremely urgent one today because war has ceased to be merely a distant menace and threatens to advance



even from oppressive measures of war preparations. The discord that is being fanned between India and Pakistan threatens to bring the fires of war to our very soil. The dispute between India and Pakistan must be settled in a proper manner in a con­ ference of leaders of both the States. Intervention by any third Power having a political axe to grind spells disaster. W e therefore appeal to all writers, ' painters, educationists, stage, film and radio artists, playwrights, musicians, every artist and all cultural organisations of India, to join the All-India C u l ­ tural Conference and Festival for Peace to be held in Calcutta i n the month of November, to help point the way to lasting peace, and to bring their powerful voices i n the defence of M a n . Yours sincerely, Probodh Kumar Sanyal, T a r a Shankar Baneijee, Sailajaranjan Mukherjee, Manik Banerjee,. Pabitra Ganguly, Jagadish Bhattacharya, Ramesh Sen and Gopal Haldar. UnUy, October



A n appeal to all progressive writers and artists to rally i n the struggle for Place [This is a discussion article and readers are specially invited to express their views on it. The Editor believes that it will help discussion at the All-India Cultural Conference and Festival for Peace in April.] The most arresting fact about India is that her soil is rich and her people poor. Nature endowed her vwth plenty. Her people are honest, industrious and peace-loving. What then underlines her thwarted development, her misery, her cultural backwardness ? W h o robbed us of our wealth, our energy, and above all, the wealth of our land ? The mortal enemy of the peace of our land is British Imperial­ ism which is a machine of oppression. The long period of foreign domination hindered the development of India's economy, politics and culture. F o r over a century and a half, India has been




denied the conditions indispensable to peaceful development a n d construction. The imperialists and their lackeys made peace impossible i n our land. In its own interests, foreign imperialism laid the beginnings of a colonial society and preserved a fundamentally semi-feudal structure. Naturally, as a reflection of this form of politics and economy, the cultmre that grew up was a semi-colonial and semi-feudal culture. This culture inculcated a spirit of slavishness on the one hand, and an innate cynicism on the other. Fatalism, despair, escapism—^these had been its birthmarks. W e want to replace this semi-colonial and semi-feudal culture of our land b y an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal culture. This is the aim to which our cultural revolution is directed. This is the aim which binds together the great united front i n art and literature, the building of which remains the primary concern of every progressive writer and artist But the perspective of fhe cultural movement i n order to be­ come reed must correspond to the given changes i n the inter­ national and national situation. To-day the cultural revolution i n India is developing i n a fast-growing situation of war. The idea of security and independence of nations on the basis of the peaceful co-existence of the capitalist and socialist systems— ideas which for some time held the world and saved mankind from the danger of Fascism,—are becoming things of the past. Increasingly, the desire for international co-operation is being replaced b y a desire for domination. Understanding is being re­ placed b y hate and force. Bestial passions are triumphing over reason. C U L T U R E A N D WAR PROPAGANDA

In the capitahst countries, culture has already become the worst weapon of war propaganda. Literafflre, art, films and the stage, are being obsessed with sadism and sex. The crisis in cultmre has deepened immeasurably i n these countries. The Indian cultural development is proceeding i n the midst of this deepening world crisis i n the sphere of culture. Particularly significant are the developments i n the colonies. In the colonies the Atlantic Charter is being honoured more by its violation than b y adherence to its principles. The colonies and semi-colonies being the lifelines of Imperialism become its



worst victims. In a situation of war, the crisis i n the colonies becomes intensified. Intensified exploitation as well as constant and brazen interference foUow from the Imperialist policy of preparing a new war. It is not an accident that Imperialist aggression has increased tenfold i n the colonial world. W a r is raging on Asian soil. Blood is flowing i n Korea. Imperialist intervention has become more brazen since, then i n Viet-Nam and Malaya, Iran and Egypt. In these conditions, India being the second biggest nation in Asia, invited the attention of the Imperialists most. Imperialist aggression i n India became more intense and took subtle forms. In facilitate its schemes of domination over Asia, British Imperialism resorted to the manoevre of 1947, which sought to preserve intact the British Empire under the cover of .an "Independent India". W i t h the same end, it resorted to the usual tactics of division of India into the two States of India and Pakistan. It put both States at loggerheads and undeclared war with each other, and dependent on the so-called neutral third party, the Imperialist. A l l these Imperialist intrigues led to an intensification of the exploitation of our peoples, and,correspondingly a deepening of our cultural backwardness. A heavy militarisation programme spells countless disasters to the popular masses. A heavy military budget daily uses up India's enormous resources for purposes of destruction. Arising from this, the increased military expenditure entails a heavy drain upon our economy, upon our public health service, on education, on our cultural development as a whole. Few hospitals, fewer schools, less cultural development—such is the course that the warmongers prescribe for us. Such is the grim reality from which no section of the Indian people can escape. CONDITIONS



Along with other strata i n Indian society, the intellectuals espe­ cially writers, artists and other cultural workers, cannot but look at the situation with deep concern. The warmongers are deeply interested i n their capabilities, and know that India can­ not be fully dragged into war without their help. Intellectuals here, as elsewhere, who are workers b y brain, like all other




toiling peoples who are workers by hand, are the worst sufferers from war preparations. In the first place, the working conditions of cultural workers have considerably worsened due to the rising cost of living, which i n its t u m is the result of war tension. As factors contri­ buting to the worsening of working conditions of cultural work­ ers the following factors may be taken into consideration: (a) Effect of high cost of paper, printing and printing equipment. (b) Effect of non-availabihty of newsprint. (c) Effect of non-availability of raw film and equipment of the film industry. (d) W a r tension between India and Pakistan affecting i m ­ mensely the market for cultural goods. Secondly, the atmosphere of war has led to a further tighten­ ing of thought control. Suppression of creative art foUows from the imperialist policy of preparing for war. The infamous A c t of 1876 was brought back to grind the People's Theatre move­ ments. T h e Indo-Pakistan war tension poisoned the whole at­ mosphere and invaded the field of music and literature. Thirdly, the above intensification of economic and political crisis is also reflected i n the development of our cultiu-e. W a r accelerates the crisis inherent i n the cultural development of a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. W a r deepens fhe cult of slavishness, denationalisation, destruction and death. W a r pro­ vokes a literature of hate, horror and lust. It injects into your m i n d the spirit of helplessness, despair and fatalism. Y o u can­ not prepare 400 million people for war without first dulling their consciousness, bemusing their minds and whipping them into a frenzy of prejudice and hate. A sort of mysticism, a feeling of misanthropy, and above all, mutual bitterness between State and State, and community and community, is needed i n order to kill i n the minds of the people the growing confidence i n their strength, i n order to turn the working people into robots, and to neutralise their strivings towards unity, freedom and indepen­ dence. Hence it is not for nothing that India is flooded with such literature as produced b y Life or Time or Hollywood. It is interesting to note that a whole array of Indian Joumals and films which are imitating them represent a most powerful auxi-



liary force of the imperialist warmongers in their ideological preparations for a T h i r d W o r l d W a r . Such is the dark prospect which threatens the development of our culture. Such is the threat of annihilation which looms large over the world's great heritage of art. Fortunately for mankind, this prospect is not, however,, inevitable. If mankind asserts its streiigth to prevent it, it can be prevented. But what is wanted is the w i l l to do i t The Indian people do not want war. They are indignant at the imperialist intrigues i n South-East Asia, the Middle East and Kashmir. As imperialist aggression intensifies,, the desire for peace and independence on the part of our people has con­ siderably increased. The broadest unity of the working people is the vital condition of preserving peace and national i n ­ dependence. T A S K O F W R I T E R S A N D ARTISTS

In these conditions, the jarogressive writers and artists must head the struggle for Peace. For, not to link the struggle for Peace with the struggle for a new culture, is not to see the depth of our cultural crisis, is not to see the intensification o f the imperialist stranglehold over cultiu-e. This makes the fight for Peace the pivot of the daily work of such cultural movements as P . W . A . , I.P.T.A., etc. Thus the prime task of the united front in art and literature is to link the struggle for Peace vwth the struggle for a new culture. The platform of Peace is, however, broader than the platform of the united front i n art and literature. Indian vwiters and artists should close their ranks against the warmongers and declare on behalf of the people of India that they want to live in Peace and friendship with the peoples of all countries, that they urge upon the Great Powers to end the C o l d W a r ; that they w i l l struggle for putting an end to the wars already des­ troying the soil of Asia ; and for a peaceful solution of the exist­ ing differences between India and Pakistan. These simple and just demands correspond to the desire of every man of goodwill, irrespective of political opinion, w o r l d outlook and artistic standpoint Culture has a great role to play i n the fight for the preserva­ tion of Peace. Writers and artists should contribute to the pre-




.•servation of Peace through their particular art forms: the writer through hterature, the artist through art, the film directors and technicians through films, and so on. T h e literature of Peace is the literature of bold humanism as against savagery and death, •of robust optimism as against despair, of resistance against i m ­ perialist aggression and social oppression. T h e literature of Peace insists on our birthright—our right to life and peaceful labour. It discovers the djmamism that is b i d d e n i n the collective strength of humanity. T h e writer •devoted to the cause of Peace holds up before us the truth and •grandeur of collective endeavour. W h e n a man says that he wants to live, that he does not want war and is eager to follow his peaceful pursuits ; when a mother •demands that her children should not be butchered; they have no need of high-sounding words for their message to be heard and understood. A n d when this message is repeated b y millions, there is no power on earth that can stifle it. Indian culture has great traditions of its own. T h e great anti-imperialist literature handed over to Indian writers and artists serves as an inspiration i n their fight for Peace. It gives them courage to overcome fatalism. It infuses i n theh minds the spirit of confidence to defend the sanctity of their mother­ land, and to respect the security and sovereignty of all the nations of the world. Narahari Kaviraj Unity, January




B y D r . M u l k Raj Anand Preliminary It has been suggested that the general theme of the Cultural Conference i n Calcutta, to be held from A p r i l 2 to 6, w i l l be ^'the present tension i n Indian culture arising from the threat of international war". In order to study the implications of the threat of war on various aspects of our culture, it has been further suggested that the Conference should divide up into at least five more or less •distinct Commissions. W e list below the themes which w i l l be