A national tribal theatre, music, and dance festival, along with handicrafts from 650 artistes and artisans was hosted in Mumbai recently. Organised by National School of Drama (NSD), at Adi Rang Mahotsav, the arts festival brought together tribal communities from Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Nagaland, Meghalaya and other states.
“The festival helped us learn from the tribals especially how they use basic natural materials like bamboo, cow dung, grass and roots to construct their homes and express themselves,” shared Ratan Thiyam, NSD Chairperson. Stressing the point further, Waman Kendre, its director, maintains that tribal arts are the “real identity of Indian arts”. He explains that traditional performing arts like kathakali, chhau, lavani, etc. have been a part of the NSD curriculum for years; however, these “art forms are uncontaminated from Western influences” and can teach much more about life.
The event was inaugurated by actor and alumnus Pankaj Kapoor, and was followed by a slew of activities ranging from theatre performances, a Crafts Mela was also organized.
Dharti Aaba by Sanjay Upadhyay and Pashu Gayatri by Bhanu Bharti are the two plays that garnered maximum applaud at the festival. The former is on the life of Birsa Munda, leader and hero of the Munda tribal community in Jharkhand. Bhanu Bharti, another noted NSD personality is also creating a buzz with his play, Pashu Gayatri that experiments with Rajasthan’s Bheels. He will use modern poet-playwright KN Panikkar’s writing to explore the tribal gavri form. Traditionally, the gavri form is a 40-day ritualistic performance.
The first day saw a performance by Bastar Band from Chhatisgarh that is formed by Anup Ranjan Pande. Known to perform with 40 tribal instruments, the Bastar Band includes Gonds, Marhias, Bisonhorn, Halba, Bhatra, Parja Murias, Dorla, Abujmarhias and Dhurva — where each tribe has a unique dance form. Tinkling bells, elaborate headgear from the horns of stag and bison, and feathers of peacocks and cocks along with complex footwork characterise this band.