Noted theatre personality, Arvind Gaur, has lashed pout at Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, for announcing a set of conditions while deciding the topics of this year’s theatre festivals.
This was after a Delhi government’s ad with Sisodia’s photo asked for entries for this year’s two high-profile theatre festivals, Bharatmuni Rang Samaroh and Yuva Natya Samaroh, while laying down the guidelines for the participants’ entries.
Reacting to the Delhi government’s move, Gaur, the founder of one of the most prominent theatre groups in the national capital, wrote, “I’m not questioning the guidelines for the selection of topics. I have a problem that government has made them mandatory. This is a theatre festival and not a project that you need to give us a topic. I’ve been active in Delhi for last 32 years but governments of no political parties ever imposed restrictions on the selection of topics. Stage artists are not fool that they don’t understand the social issues.”
Calling it a wrong precedence, Gaur added, “If someone wants to perform plays written by Girish Karnad, Bhishm Sahni or Jaishankar Prasad or Rajesh Kumar, then they will have to first look for the relevant topics within those plays.”
He said that tomorrow another political party will decide their own agenda and that too will be acceptable to them as if “we are buffoons for the those in power. Give us money and get us to do anything.”
Gaur told Times of India that Sisodia had replied to him on WhatsApp allegedly justifying his government’s decision to set new guidelines for the selection of entries.
He said, “I had sent my tweet to most of my contacts on Whatsapp, and I had sent the same tweet to Manish Sisodia. He replied to me on Whatsapp and asked that if the government wants to use artists or theatre groups for their agendas, or to make them talk about their campaigns, what is the problem? I told him that that there is nothing wrong with it, but if you wish to do that, don’t include your agendas in theatre festivals. These are the two biggest festivals in Delhi’s theatre circuit. You can have workshops or other campaigns to propagate your agenda, but this is not the right medium. We are not against their agenda, we are against the idea of the government restricting our autonomy.”
Delhi government has not yet reacted to Gaur’s criticism.