A.N. Sadhu

A.N. Sadhu

Painting and Theatre in Kashmir

- Suraj Tiku’s Journey

November 2011

TitlePainting and Theatre in Kashmir—Suraj Tiku’s Journey

Author: Dr. Ramesh Tamiri

Published By: Suraj Foundation,Jammu

Price: Rs. 650 (HB), Rs300 (PB)

By Prof. A.N. Sadhu

I had the pleasure of reading the book written by Dr. Ramesh Tamiri on “Painting and theatre in Kashmir-Suraj Tiku’s Journey”. The book comprises of 112 pages, besides 4 pages of notes and references, 12 pages of two appendices, 5 pages of list of illustrations, one page of persons interviewed, 3 pages of index and pages of foreword, preface and acknowledgments. The book also contains a photograph of Suraj Tiku, 34 other pages of photographs and portraits of important persons including some foreigners who have contributed to the development of painting and Theatre in Kashmir. There are also 16 pages exhibiting some paintings by Kashmir artists.

The book is an interesting reading and highly enriching in so far as it is educative and informative of Kashmir’s who have, in a very humble way, significantly contributed to the development of painting and theatre in the state. The value of the book is enhanced by the excellent foreword written by Prof. Ratan Parimoo. The foreword is exhaustive and impregnate with rich thought related to creativity. In fact it stimulates the interest in going through the book from cover to cover. Rattan Parimoo quotes Rabindernath Tagore to explain that creativity overflows like a lava bursting out of a volcano, He has rightly identified societys discontent political anarchy and unwarranted violence as other sources of creative .upsurge that at times leads to master pieces of art depicted through paintings and theater.

The states history has not been free from political upheavals natural hardships and unwarranted atrocities. It is, therefore, natural that these factors should have led to creative upsurge not only revealed through masterly pieces of literature but also through painting and theatre.

What is also important is the fact that men of creativity have of their own chosen the painting and theatre to manifest their assessment and understanding of the man and the nature. Although these men are few but have always been born at all stages of social evolution. That such men of high quality of art have remained unknown is a sad state of affairs.

Dr. Tamiris book will be lauded for putting in the extremely hard effort to, at least, bring to light the unknown crusaders of art in the state, if, perhaps not all of them due to paucity of written and oral history. Recollections is a normal phenomena but translating these into a book form of such a high quality as of Tamiri’s is not an ordinary effort.

The second part of the book deals with theatre. It is remarkable to note small dramatic clubs, such as Raas Mandalis, Kashmir theatrical company Saraswati club and similar other clubs, have significantly contributed to the development of theatre in Kashmir. This reminds me of some efforts made in my own village Hutmuva under the supervision of Late Prithvi Nath Koul through which some theatrical presentations were made to create awareness among illiterate and ignorant villagers about the changing times after independence. The neighbouring small town of Mattan (Martand) had a regular arrangement to enact dramas on social and religious themes. The theatrical presentation on Raja Harishchandra laid an indelible impression on me. Under the auspicious of Sudhar Samiti, Natak Vibagh was founded in 1944 which presented plays like Kashmir Hamara Hai,” Shaheed ‘Sheerwani and several other themes which were lauded greatly by one and all. With the establishment of Kala Kendra (KK) further fillip was given to the promotion of theatre. Contributions made by K.A Abbas, Kashyap Bandu, D.N.Nadim and others have been praise worthy in so far as the development of social reform movement and its reach out to general public through theatre is concerned. Moti Lal Kemmu’s contributions in introducing the professionalism in Bhand Paathar is highly commendable. Among the contemporary theatre personalities his role is significant. Unassuming as he is,’ I have always held him in high esteem for his selfless devotion to art.

The third part of the book deals with Suraj Tiku's journey and that of his mentor Kashi Nath Bhan.

Describing Kashi Nath Bhan as a pioneer in Kashmir’s theatre movement, Tamiri says that he was also a distinguished artist in painting, acting and directing besides being an accomplished set designer. The author says that Bhan found the talent in Suraj Tiku and guided him towards its development in a perfect form.

Kashi Nath Bhan also discovered Gopi Nath (Gupa Bacha as he was popularly known) and brought him into public eye through dancing performances accompanied by his own songs in a melodius voice. Bhan served in several institutions and at different places and created a niche for himself everywhere. . Bhan was a perfectionist in stage craft besides being a painter a teacher and a disciplinarian.

Author describes Suraj Tiku as a master painter, a creative set designer and a talented actor. Not much of Suraj Tiku’s talent could be known in wider circles because of his early struggles to settle down and stablize his pursuit of art. It was also because absence of commercialism In art at that time. Many a times a lone crusader remains unknown even when he is the master of the art. The well known portraits drawn by Suraj Tiku include the full size portrait of Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah and Bhagwan Gopinath besides many others among which a few have also been lost owing to sudden and sad exodus of 1990 which Suraj Tiku found hard to bear with. Gokul Dembi, the famed artist describes Tiku as the best artist of his era. Suraj was also a creative set designer and had intense passion for theatre. The author also describes Tiku as a great humanist and philanthropist as also a greater landscape painter Dr. Tamiri has done an extensive research work and brought out clearly the tradition of art in the Tiku family. What is gratifying is that Tiku’s children are carrying forward this family tradition.

In a book review like this, it is not possible to mention the names of all these artists, whose known fact sheets have so well been scripted by the author.

I will only recommend that all art lovers, in particular, and people in general should read this book.

Dr.Tamiri has done a fine job. Writing on themes for which sufficient material is available in libraries and archives is relatively an easier job but writing on something for which lots of pains are required to be taken to collect sufficient and credible information is a hard task which the author has done exceedingly well. He deserves accolades for the same.

The book has a limited coverage as it revolves round the Suraj Tikus journey. The other two regions of Jammu and Ladakh where we have rich tradition of art of painting and theatre, both have not found space in this volume. I do hope Dr. Tamiri will enlarge the scope of his explorative research and being forth the art of painting and theatre of these two regions, as well- Whereas the role of Sir Amar Singh Technical Institute and that of Baroda university has been greatly acknowledged, the initiatives launched after 1947 are not sufficiently critically assessed. The suggestive part is conspicuously missing.

That there is sufficient talent of creative art and that it needs to be developed to glorify the state’s rich traditions of originality and creativity, we the ordinary, men and women, need to join hands to work towards the establishment of peace and stability in the state for the benefit of the posterity.

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