Sunday, November 20, 2005

Art is always anti-establishment'

The Hindu Magazine Sunday, Sep 26, 2004
That comes from my conviction that the moment you say things out clearly and produce answers your audience says thank you, nice evening, goes home, has dinner and sleeps. Also there is no single answer to a question. If you incite them with a disturbing question, there may be more answers than you thought of. In street theatre you take immediate problems and produce answers, because there are answers. Once the problem is solved, you can throw away the play. But even street theatre can be artistic.
Sometimes the worst society produces the best of art. After the revolution the socialist society produced nothing but muck in terms of painting. Art is always anti-establishment. You can never have an ideal society. Art flourishes in the loopholes of the best society. It is like the hilsa of Dacca. They are proud of it. They say it is better than the Hooghly hilsa. I ask them why, it is the same hilsa. They say no. The Hooghly hilsa goes with the current. Ours goes against the current so it is tougher and sweeter. Art goes against the current to flourish. You can almost wish for a bad society if you want art to flourish!
Art never changes society. It cannot be the vehicle of change. But art, particularly theatre, does something very precious. It paves the way for change, it affects opinions, it opens up minds. I think my work has had its effect in the sense that there were some dying arts. Government had a scheme for the dying arts. I noticed an old man with a lantern performing. I asked him what are you performing? He said "Chandaini". It takes 18 evenings of three or four hours each day to complete the story of "Lorik and Chanda", an ancient folk tale.
My dilemma was this — that democracy is desirable despite its propensity to turn into fascism and .... And yet democracy is more acceptable than dictatorship. But feudalism, no matter how condemnable and exploitative, has its own silver lining. It has supported the arts, not just classical but the folk arts. It can teach us something even about administration. So there is a dilemma, and I have left it at that in "Hirma".

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