Kewal Dhaliwal’s play – Waqt De Paran Te

Punjabi dramatist Kewal Dhaliwal produced a play based on Paash’s poetry titled WAQT DE PARAN TE (ON THE WINGS OF HISTORY).

To date he has produced about 150 plays and his seminal contributions include the presentation of poetry of some of the well known Punjabi poets like Hasham Shah, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Surjit Patar and Paash apart from new presentations of classics like “Mirza Sahiban” and Joginder Bahrala’s “Harian Saunian”.

Mirroring the changing face of Punjabi theatre

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 19

Years ago when Kewal Dhaliwal broke fresh grounds in Punjabi theatre by staging his intellectual productions on poets Paash and Shiv Kumar Batalvi in rural Punjab, some people conveniently dismissed him as “naive and euphoric”.

Most apprehensions stemmed from the presumed “inability” of villagefolk who were considered too ignorant to understand literature.

A decade down the lane, this young director from Amritsar has proved everyone wrong by using his medium for awakening and entertainment. The most relevant detail about Kewal Dhaliwal is that he has already made a play on Amrita Pritam’s poignant tale, “Pinjar”, which caught the attention of tinsel town eight years after it was staged by him in rural Punjab. Also, well before the media began highlighting the plight of women bought from other states, Kewal Dhaliwal had immortalised the issue in his play titled, “Kadesan”, based on a real-life Bihari woman whom Kewal knew from childhood.

Practising “rural theatre”, Kewal employs the techniques learnt at the National School of Drama to create productions for rural masses who have long been ignored as “illiterates”. Not only has he taken over 100 productions to villages across Punjab he has also recruited villagers in his theatre group called Manch Rangmanch floated in 1992 to promote Punjabi theatre and take it to the interiors.

In Chandigarh to stage his Hindi play, “Saiyaan Bhaye Kotwaal”, Kewal, a contemporary of actors Ashutosh Rana, Asish Vidyarthi and Nirmal Pandey, reasoned why he did not take the Bollywood road: “As a youngsters, I worked with Gursharan Singh, who is famous for reflecting social reality on stage. I learnt to respect Punjab’s traditions. There was, however, one grudge that Punjabi theatre was not rated high on the national scale.”

Determined to reverse the trend, Kewal joined the NSD in 1989. When he came out loaded with knowledge of the latest techniques and world theatre, he knew what he wanted from art. Putting offers to join films behind him, Kewal returned to Punjab and floated Manch Rangmanch. Kewal said, “We have produced over 150 plays, which we have staged everywhere from Canada, the USA and England to the most interior Punjab villages.”

In a decade of its existence, Manch Rangmanch has created theatre an all possible themes — from novel adaptations to poetry, dance dramas and film scripts.

The most challenging of Kewal’s plays have been those on the poetry of Paash, Batalvi and Surjit Pattar.

Interestingly, he has staged film scripts, the most acclaimed being Kaifi Azmi’s “Heer Ranjha.” He has also created plays on the life and teachings of the Sikh Gurus.

Handling a vast canvas is easy for Kewal, who began his mission by targetting village children by holding workshops. He says, “Many village kids trained in my workshops are now members of my group. They have helped me discover rural Punjab all over again.” Honoured with the Shiromani Natakkar award of the Punjab Government in 1998, besides the Sapt Rishi award, Safdar Hashmi award and Balraj Sahni award, Kewal Dhaliwal is busy mirroring the changing face of Punjabi theatre which, he feels, is as rich as Bengal theatre.
“Our only problem is lack of representation in akademies at the national level. There is no one to voice our aspirations or witness our traditions. I hope times will change for Punjabi theatre.”

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Reproduced from http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030920/punjab1.htm#6

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