Firstpost and Jashn-E-Qalam present: An enactment of Kamleshwar's Apne Desh Ke Log

On India's 73rd Independence Day, Firstpost and Jashn-E-Qalam present a story about a State that wants to create 'smart', 'model' citizens by modifying that which it perceives is wrong or faulty with them.

FP Staff August 14, 2020 18:57:32 IST
Firstpost and Jashn-E-Qalam present: An enactment of Kamleshwar's Apne Desh Ke Log

The stories we tell reflect how we want to portray ourselves — those parts of ourselves that we want to preserve for posterity. They reflect our worldview, our biases, our values and serve as a documentation of who we are, or used to be. They are the medium for our mythology and folklore. Sometimes, they also reveal what we are uncomfortable accepting as a society, by speaking truth to power and challenging the status quo.

Though story-telling traditions have become enriched and complex over the centuries, especially in a place like the Indian subcontinent, the unadorned act of reciting or enacting using one's voice and body alone is still memorable and persuasive. It is exactly this method that Jashn-E-Qalam, a Mumbai-based collective of professional stage and screen actors, have employed to bring short stories by legendary writers to audiences. The 'StoryPlays' they perform are mounted on the actor's voice and body language alone, without props or sets — making them examples of theatre at its simplest.

On India's 73rd Independence Day, Firstpost and Jashn-E-Qalam present one such StoryPlay: Kamleshwar's Apne Desh Ke Log, the story of a State which wants to create "smart", "model" citizens by modifying that which it perceives is wrong or faulty with them. Dissent and protest are quashed, and people are cured of "illnesses" by replacing their organs with symbols of bureaucracy. It reveals the insidious reality behind the State's twin goals of discipline and development.

Legendary Hindi writer Kamleshwar's literary genius is evidenced by the success he achieved across mediums. He won a Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel, Kitne Pakistan, and has several short stories to his credit. He had a long career at Doordarshan, where he rose up the ranks, and served as the editor of newspapers and magazines, too. He was a prolific screenwriter, known for movies such as Aandhi, Mausam and Rajinigandha. In 2005, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan.

Kamleshwar is counted among the writers who began the Nayi Kahani movement, paving the way for a new sensibility by leaving behind the literary preoccupations of the decades before Independence.

Apne Desh Ke Log will be enacted by KC Shankar, who is the founder of Jashn-E-Qalam. It will stream LIVE on YouTube on 15 August, at 7:30 PM. Register for this free event here.

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