JainendraDost’s Play: Bhikhari Naama

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Playwright & Director: Jainendra Dost
Group: Bhikhari Thakur Repertory, Chhapra (Bihar)
Language: Hindi & Bhojpuri
Duration: 1 hr 15 mins

The Play
Bhikari Nama is a musical play based on Bhikhari Thakur’s life and his contribution to theatre. The play is broadly divided into four parts, each exploring one phase of his life. The first part presents his childhood, seamlessly moving into the section exploring his youth where Bhikhari Thakur narrates his life and talks about his marriage and his migration to Bengal in search of livelihood. He continues to work as a barber, his caste profession, in Bengal and also takes a keen interest in the Ramleela performances. Not too long after that, he returns to his village and starts putting up Ramleela performances. The next segment shows how Bhikhari Thakur goes on to set up his own theatre troupe, writing plays that go on to be wildly popular.

Director’s Note
As a researcher and director, I was amazed by the expertise in his work despite him being formally uneducated, and the way he worked behind the scenes. Ranchandra Manjhi, Shivlal Bari and Lakhichand Manjhi, three seasoned performers from Bhikhari Thakur’s original troupe, were a great support and it was with their guidance that I started the study of Bhikhari’s biographical songs, the play Naayi-Bahar, and the Bhikhari Thakur Shanka Samadhan. After this, I began collecting stories and events from Bhikhari’s life, right from his birth to when he created the Naach group. These were then re-assembled in chronological order before being made into a written performance text. The real challenge here was to think of the form that would best reflect the multifaceted artist’s work and life. We found the answer in our very own Launda Naach tradition. We weaved together songs, music, dance, drama and comedy in a documentary theatre form. The play
uses purbi, nirgun, doha, choubola and many other folk singing traditions in a theatrical form which highlight the cultural, sociological, and economic facets of Bhikahri Thakur’s life.

The Director & Playwright
Jainendra Dost is the founding director of Bhikhari Thakur Repertory and Research Centre. He studied theatre at the Department of Dramatics and Film Studies (MGAHV, Wardha). He also pursued a PhD in the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He completed his PhD thesis on the Launda Nach tradition, focusing on Bhikhari Thakur’s invaluable contribution to the form, this year. He has directed more than fifteen plays and many folk musical programs, and his theatre company has been invited to international theatre festivals in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal where it performed successfully. Recently Jainendra made a documentary film on Bhikhari Thakur’s life and theatre performances, Naach Bhikhari Naach, with the support of Doordarshan and Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT). The film has been screened at film festivals in the country and abroad, and has received much appreciation.

The Group
Bhikhari Thakur Repertory Training & Research Centre is dedicated to the study and research of folk theatre traditions. Traditional actors who were trained and worked under the guidance of Bhikhari Thakur himself are an integral part of this repertory. The collective has performed at famous national and international festivals. The eldest member and artist of the Bhikhari Thakur Repertory, Ramchandra Manjhi, received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2017. In the same year, the repertory and Sangeet Natak Akademi of India also organized an event, Bhikhari Thakur Theatre Centennial Celebration, at Bhikhari Thakur’s birth place, Kutubpur, and also in Chhapra (Bihar).

Cast and Credits
Sutradhar Jainendra Dost
Pyari Sundari/Singer Sarita Saaz
Story Teller/Singer Ramchandra Manjhi
Story Teller/Singer Lakhichand Manjhi
Story Teller Shiv Lal Bari
Harmonium Jaleshwar Mali
Dholak Bharat Thakur
Jhaal Raghu Paswan, Ramchandra Manjhi Chhote
Tabla Rahul Kumar
Chorus Priyanka Kumari, Gauri Shankar, Brijnath Singh

Light Shiv Kumar
Light Assistant Vivek Kumar
Set Ramlakhan
Property Naresh Gautam
Make-up Ankita Chaudhry
Music Design Sarita Saaz
Backdrop Design Dipti Ogre
Production Manager Nashim Ahmad
Stage Manager Ranjeet Kumar Ram

Script, Design &Direction Jainendra Dost

Contacts
Bhikhari Thakur Repertory
Vill: Ramnagar, Near Railway Crossing,
P.O. Sandha, Chhapra, Bihar- 841301
M: +91 9560695145
E: [email protected]

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Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is Currently a Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he teaches are: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: www.onevorld.org and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: www.stagebuzz.in & www.stagebuzz.info He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He is an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

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