Balwant Thakur shared his life experiences with writers Dogri Sanstha, Jammu, under its series programme ‘Malaati’ organized an intimate interaction between prominent theater personality Padmashri Balwant Thakur and leading writers of the region. Prof. Lalit Magotra, President of Dogri Sanstha conducted and anchored the programme.
While introducing Balwant Thakur, Prof. Magotra said that of the numerous achievements of Balwant Thakur the one that stands out is the showcasing of Dogri language at international level through highly acclaimed Dogri plays like ‘Bawa Jitto’ and ‘Ghumayee’. He said that Balwant Thakur’s career is full of many ‘firsts’. Throughout his life. He has been a trendsetter, a brilliant Director and a most imaginative artiste, who dared to tread on the unchartered paths. His tenacity and positive attitude compelled the lady luck to always oblige him. The Dogras should be thankful to what he has done for their language and culture and should feel pride in his unprecedented achievements.
Prof. Magotra said that not only Thakur popularized the theatre among a large number of youngsters and children, many of whom have emerged to be excellent performers, he has also passed on his legacy to his next generation—to his daughters, Arushi Thakur and Gauri Thakur who have already made a mark in this field.
Balwant Thakur while speaking narrated that how he, a village lad from a remote hilly area, born in a family where his father was an accomplished folk artiste, reached Jammu University in the Law faculty, remained through out active in theatre, founded Natrang, became Secretary of J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, got numerous prestigious awards and prizes, including coveted Padmashri, 4th highest civil award in India and ultimately made his name &fame at national and international level. There is hardly any national award in the field of performing arts that he has not won. To name a few— Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, National Sanskriti Award, Maharaja Gulab Singh Memorial Award, Rabindra Nath Tagore Award etc.
The significant mile-stones of his journey in this field include, formation of ‘Natrang’, starting of weekly ‘Sunday Theatre’ with more than 500 shows till date, training scores of children, institution of Annual Natrang Festival, writing a number of plays, regular annual performances of ‘Bawa Jitto’ at Jhiri and ‘Mata Ki Kahani’ at Katra, production of feature film ‘Gulab Gatha’ etc.
During interaction with the writers, when asked about the present and future scenario of theatre in Jammu, Balwant Thakur responded that while there is no dearth of talent in Jammu and in the given situation our artistes and theatre activists are doing an excellent job, but our region lacks severely in the availability of infrastructure and environment for growth of theatre. He regretted that in spite of there being five Universities in Jammu region, none of these has a department of performing arts. He said that there is no space worth its name where the theatre artistes can converge on regular basis to perform, hold workshops, rehearsals, seminars, discussions etc. Such centres which become the hub of theatre activities are must for the healthy growth of this art form. He said that in spite of these handicaps our young boys and girls have achieved outstanding success at national level, including making a niche for themselves in the Bollywood.
Those who participated in the interaction include, Chhtrapal, A.V.Gupta, Veena Gupta, Chaman Arora, Dr. Nirmal Vinod, Ashok Angurana and some aspiring youngsters.