Katra 3 June, 2015: Globally acclaimed Dogri play ‘Bawa Jitto’ enlivened the Aghar Jitto Mela-2015 with its two electrifying performances which were witnessed by thousands of the audiences. On second day Ajay Nanda, MLA Reasi was the Chief Guest on the occasion who appreciated this initiative of Natrang as one of the most befitting tribute to the folk hero of the region. Presentation of the play Bawa Jitto in Aghar Jitto Mela has enhanced the entire charm and attraction of this community festivity. These shows of the play Bawa Jitto were supported Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Katra and logistics support was provided by District administration and Aghar Jitto Mela Committee.
Written by Prof. Ram Nath Shastri and innovatively designed conceptualized, designed and directed by Padmashree Balwant Thakur, this culturally vibrant play magically transported along the thousands of the devotees and the pilgrims of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi to a 15th century old saga of supreme sacrifice of a poor farmer who gave his life in fight of justice and exploitation by the landlords. The most noteworthy feature of the presentation was that it made the audience to relive his mind-blowing tale exactly at the same place where it happened over 650 years ago.
Welcoming the Guests, Natrang Director Balwant Thakur said that if such events are made a permanent feature, they will not only revive cultural life of the area but will also become the ultimate global cultural destination. Nowhere on this earth one can have the occasion to see something out of the world happening which transports people to a live happening of 15th century. This uniqueness of the event has attracted a scholar from George Town University USA to come all way to witness this rarest cultural happening of the world. Amidst thunderous applauses she was felicitated on stage by Natrang Director Balwant Thakur. The visiting scholar who herself is a theatre activist while sharing her views with the audiences said that she was amazed to see something so outstandingly happening her. Had something similar happening in USA, they would have made that a world tourism attraction.
On the occasion Balwant Thakur thanked Sh. N.N. Vohra, Hon’ble Governor of J&K who not only inspired and encourged him but also supported him in his endeavours to preserve the priceless heritage of the surrounding areas of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Hills. He also expressed his heartiest gratitude to the District Administration, particularly the Deputy Commissioner Reasi, Mrs Sushma Chauhan and the local public for supporting Natrang to make all this possible. Natrang has staged over two hundred shows of the play Bawa Jitto all-over India and as of now this play has become the longest living theatre production of the country which has again given a new cultural identity to this region. The tragic story of Bawa Jitto portrays the age-old saga of exploitation of landless farmers by landlords. Due to the constant and persistent pressures of relatives, with a piece of land as bone of contention, Bawa Jitto, a hard working, farm less farmer is forced to leave his native village. Accompanied by his nine-year-old daughter, he takes shelter in the house of a friend in Shamachak, a nearby village. The efforts of his friend Rullo result in a land grant from landlord in Shamachak and one fourth of the produce is fixed as land revenue. The hard work put in by him, the sweat and toil of Jitto turns a barren land into prolific treasure. This makes avaricious landlord to back out on his word and ask for major share of the crop. Helpless Jitto, unable to endure injustice, kills himself. The agony becomes boundless when Gauri, his little daughter immolates herself on her father’s pyre.
The most outstanding feature of the play was the performance by versatile actors on stage. The role of Bawa Jitto was played by Natrang’s senior actor Neeraj Kant who kept everyone spellbound through his lively. He was supported by senior actors like Suresh Kumar as Mehta Beer Singh, Vijay Bhatt as Sarpanch and Ghaghi, Subash Jamwal as Malli, Balwinder Singh as Rullo in a highly professional manner. Another noteworthy performance was by young Sanchita Dubey as Bua Gauri, Shakashi Prakash as Jauni and Rajani Bhatti as Jojan. Others who gave magnificent performances included Mohd Yaseen, Ashwani Bali, Syed Mudasaar Ali, Rajan Thakyal, Sachin Saini, Pankaj Verma, Nitin Kumar, Rohit Kumar, Rohit Sharma, Nitish Kaul, Shivam Singh, Juhi Singh, Kiritika Singh Bhau, and Gauri Thakur. Watching prominent traditional singers Girdhari Lal and Harbans Lal was an ethnic cultural treat for all the spectators.
The lights were designed and executed by Ankush Lakhnotra, stage management by Rshba Raina, Aarushi Thakur and sound was professionally audio graphed by Tilak Raj.