Director: Pankaj Rishi Kumar
Duration: 00:43:21; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 30.449; Saturation: 0.052; Lightness: 0.333; Cuts per Minute: 22.353
Summary: How does art survive in a regime of fear? I first encountered this question in 1999, while taking photographs of Kashmir during that mindless war with Pakistan. That summer, I established contact with the National Bhand Theatre, Wathora, and the Bhagat Theatre, Akingam, two groups that were still performing in the traditional Pather form of satire. I returned twice in 2001, now armed with a camera. I was encouraged by what I found: an illiterate community has sustained a centuries-old tradition in the face of debilitating social and cultural changes. Although perennially intimidated by the corruption, violence and intolerance that prevail in Kashmir, the bhands are still affirming a commitment to their theatre, to the critical potential of its form and the liberating joys of performance. Faith in Sufism has tempered their enthusiam for satire and they identify with the collective voices of Kashmir's freedom. The Play is on.... follows the two groups as they prepare for public performances, a rare phenomenon today. For the bhands, who daily witness the erosion of their way of life, each performance represents both a change as well as a repetition of the same brutal fact: that they are not free to share their revolutionary spirit.