MK Raina is preparing a film script on Pandit’s forced exodus from Kashmir
Speaking on the sidelines of the recently concluded Mahindra Kabira Festival in Varanasi, where the classic piece “Kabira Khada Bazaar Mein” directed by him decades ago was reimagined as a rock opera by Dastaan Live, he believes that whenever the younger generation reinterprets a production, it ignites new ideas, gives multiple dimensions, highlights new thoughts and poses new questions to the public.
“This is precisely why it is important to keep our minds open to reinterpretation and
reimagining,” says Raina.
Adding that circumstances change, new ideas are formed, and untold scenarios pop up in society from time to time, he adds, “The images you created long ago may not be understood or told now. N Let’s not forget, time and space are paramount to artists – after all, that’s where we ‘play’. So many productions that have been relaunched without changing anything have fallen flat. It’s important that the Contemporary India and the world are reflected in the artwork.”
Raina, who has been going and staying in Kashmir for months for 20 years and works there with urban and rural theater artists says, “It was impossible for me to abandon my people. artists (Bhands), where I got more results.”
He remembers the Bhands being in a terrible state, with some people beating them regularly, tearing their costumes and breaking their masks. They hadn’t played for a decade before he contacted them. Many militant groups consider themselves to be acting “un-Islamic”.
“They started crying when they saw that someone had come to meet them and work with them. I started training their children from scratch – introducing them to their people. I worked with them for four to five years, and then I decided there was a need to do something new. There was this excellent young actor among them, and we took a year to adapt King Lear with multiple improvisations. In the end, the Bhands appropriated the play,” Raina says of the play which has been staged in Kashmir, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, the North East and Maharastra.
Hoping now that something permanent can be created for the Bhands – an institution which undertakes historical and performance research and provides them with income, he says, “I am concentrating on my book on the indigenous theater of Kashmir nowadays. “.
For someone who believes in culture as a great healing power, especially in conflict zones, the director smiles: “It plays the role of isolating live electrical wires, you have to know how to insulate. We do not have a choice.
Lamenting that, unlike in the west, performances have yet to be fully opened up here, Raina isn’t much of a fan of the digital medium which has seen artists from different disciplines take ownership of it during lockdowns.
“You need public places as therapy for communities, which cannot be replaced. Don’t we all need catharsis, especially in these trying times? Digital just can’t match live reality .”
Highlighting the lack of original playwrights in the country, he said it is high time for national and central academies to start working on it and organize workshops, seminars and meetings for young writers.
“No one is ready to seed, and that’s really sad. Why do you think I often take short stories and dramatize them for theater productions?” concludes Raina, who now wishes to work on Sanskrit classics.