Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A BHANTU to USA for studies.

A BHANTU youngster is studying in USA
No one would have thought that the struggle for survival started by the Budhan Theatre in August 1998, will result into the admission of two of its members in National School of Drama and would given enough exposure to Uttar Bajrange to fly to New Jersey in USA to do his post graduation.

Even though Bajrange has nothing to do with the active theatre activism, but he was fortunate enough to get enough exposure for being an active member of Budhan Theatre, which motivated him to contribute to his community by concentrating on his career.

He got support and guidance from the people associated with BT and able to fly to USA to study. For instance he got support from the film maker couple from New York (now in Taiwan) Kerim Friedman and Shaswati Tadulkar. The couple is making a film on Budhan Theatre.

Bajrange is the first one from the chhara community from Ahmedabad to go abroad for studies. He will study in Steven’s college in New Jersey for 21 months starting from January 2008.

Budhan Theatre wishes him a very best of luck and wish he will also play an important role to change the fortune of entire DNT community of India.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Budhan Theatre: Towards Change

Budhan Theatre is a tradition, transformation, weapon of non violent
protest and a medium of development which began in 1998, in
Chharanagar, Ahmedabad

Dakxin Bajrange (Chhara)

What is Budhan Theatre (BT)? Is it a concrete structure or auditorium?
Does it perform conventional plays? If not, what kind of plays? Who
are its performers? Why have they been performing without any support
for the last ten years? Let's examine this 'culture' which has changed
the identity and lives of a severely stigmatised group.

Budhan Theatre is a tradition, culture, transformation, weapon of non
violent protest and a medium of development which began in 1998, in
the infamous area known as Chharanagar in Ahmedabad. People consider
this area a ghetto of 'thieves' and bootleggers. We are forever
suspects in the eyes of the law.

Mahasveta Devi writes in "Birth 1871", the British tagged millions of
people in India 'Born Criminals' and created the 'Criminal Tribes Act
- 1871'. An inhuman act, it branded 192 tribal groups 'Born Criminals'
and made life hell for these communities. It put them into different
settlements (so-called Rehabilitation Camps) and restricted the
movements of those who were traditionally nomads and performers. The
Act was repealed in 1952, but the stigma remains. The Chharas are one
of the communities to be branded criminals by the colonial rulers.

In the 80s, theatre director Prem Prakash was putting up a play,
Spartacus, and he wanted 'slaves' for this play. He could not find
them in his Sindhi actors. He came to Chharanagar and found several.
Our father's generation performed this play at the Visual Arts Centre
and it became a landmark in the history of theatre in Gujarat. Then,
for some time, theatre was rampant amongst the Chhara youth. In 1998,
with the help of Ganesh Devy and Mahasveta Devi, the journey into
theatre started again, and we performed a play, Budhan, based on the
death of Budhan Sabar in police custody, in West Bengal's Purulia
district. We performed over 300 shows of this play in schools,
colleges, institutes, seminars and festivals.

To date, BT has made and performed 21 plays, 8 of which have been
performed by Chhara children. They have learnt to express themselves
through theatre art and have developed a theatre with no boundaries.
They write, direct and act in plays. But to practice theatre being a
Chhara is still difficult. There are around 50-55 theatre artists and
of them 35-40 are children. Some of these performers, or their
parents, have been in jail, some due to false cases - a regular
practice by police when it comes to all denotified (DNT) communities.

Theatrics were used by our forefathers for thieving. It was Invisible
theatre. This art was in our genes. We used it for social change and
community development. As a result of theatre, for the last eight
years, BT has become the first theatre group to produce two National
School of Drama (NSD) Graduates in Gujarat; with some of our actors
winning 'Best Actor Awards' in state level drama competitions.

BT develops its own theatrical style in the field of existing
performance theories. By practicing in Budhan Theatre, I can see the
transformation of performers, the community at large. From being a
place where people did not want to come, Chharanagar is now viewed as
a centre for theatrical activity.

In fact, Budhan Theatre is reviving the traditional art of the Chharas
in a positive manner for social change and community development. It
is being developed as a potential cultural platform to raise voices of
denotified tribes against all odds and atrocities. Through theatre, we
are trying to sensitise mainstream society for social acceptance, and
the system, for our fundamental and human rights.

Apart from Chharanagar, Budhan Theatre has developed seven theatre
groups, given theatre training and prepared 219 male and female
actors, writers and directors in Gujarat, who are practicing 'BT style
Protest Theatre' in their areas.

Budhan Theatre also started its film wing in 2004, with a documentary
titled 'Fight for Survival'. It won the 'Best South Asia Documentary
Film' award, and is based on a snake-charmer's livelihood issues.

I want to share an incident with you.

A BT actor named Sandeep was sent to jail by the police under a false
case. He spent two months in jail and applied for 'parole' to give his
University exams. This was granted by the court and he appeared for
his examinations. He had to go back to jail on Feb 28, 2006. On the
26th we were preparing to perform a play at the Kaleshwari Mela. He
came to me and said, "Dakxin bhai, before I go to jail, I want to
perform a play." I replied that he couldn't. He hadn't rehearsed and
it was a new play. I advised him to spend his time with his family
instead. He requested me to let him perform saying, "I will improvise
upon my character."

I agreed.

He performed spontaneously. The DNT commission was present at this
performance. Along with the other actors, he delivered his life's most
stirring performances.

That is our life. I never write a play first and then perform it. I
always first improvise a play, then perform it and finally write it.
It helps to involve all the actors in the concerned issue and try to
make the 'most realistic' plays which hearken 'life' - not the
imagination. Budhan Theatre is struggling to make Chharanagar another
Hegguddu. Together, let's work towards change�

(Visit www.budhantheatre.org to know more about Budhan Theatre.

The writer is an award-winning filmmaker, playwright, actor, director
and activist from the Chhara community of Ahmedabad. He is the one of
the founders of the Budhan Theatre Group)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sharad Ghamande is principal investigator on a study of a monoclonal antibody that prompts the immune system to target wayward ovarian cancer cells roaming the body in an effort to forestall cancer...
Source: 2004 Annual Report [www.mcghealth.org]

note- we don't know that Dr. Ghamande is BHANTU or not. if u have any information pls. inform us
if u have any information about ROMA and BHANTU pls. send US
this blog dedicated to all Great CHHARA- BHANTU, who belongs to ROMA

DaKxin Bajrange (Chhara)

DaKxin Bajrange is an award-winning filmmaker, playwright, actor, director and activist from the Chhara community of Ahmedabad, in western India. He teaches theatre and film at the National Tribal Academy at Tejgadh, Gujarat and is a Fellow of Bhasha Research and Publication Centre in Baroda. He has produced cultural programs for the Information Department of Gujarat State; directed over 50 television programs for Tara Gujarati Channel; and directed eight documentaries on the earthquake in 2000 for the Gujarat government.

His independent documentaries include Fight for Survival (Jeevika 2005, South Asia Award), Bulldoze (2006), Thought for Development (2005), Actors are Born Here (2006), The Lost Water (2007) and his theatrical credits as Writer, Director and Actor include Budhan, Pinya Hari Kale Ki Maut (Death of Pinya Hari Kale), Encounter, Majhab Hameen Sikhata, Aapas Mein Bair Rakhna, Bhoma, Khoj, Ulgulan, and Muje Mat Maro...Saab. He is currently working as Associate Director on a Gujarat film series with Rakesh Sharma.

He is a founding member of the Budhan Theatre, a theatre group of Denotified Tribals who are designated "Born Criminals" by mainstream society, as well as the legal and judiciary system of India. He teaches street theatre to youth and from age 9 and up in his home state of Gujarat.

DaKxin has represented nomadic and denotified tribes of India at the United Nations and various universities of the U.S., including Georgetown, Princeton, Maryland Universities.

The Lost Water (2007)