An art res­i­dency in heart of Malwa keeps Bulleh Shah’s spirit alive

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - PUNJAB - Niru­pama Dutt let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MUKTSAR:Two boys from Malout in Pun­jab’s Muktsar dis­trict who grad­u­ated from Chandi­garh’s Gov­ern­ment Col­lege of Art in the trou­bled year of 1984 have taken up an out-of-the -or­di­nary ini­tia­tive to set up a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary art res­i­dency pro­gramme in the town of Muktsar. They are Lon­don-based sculp­tor-painter Kan­wal Dhali­wal and ap­plied artist Preetinder Singh Ba­jwa, who made his home here after sev­eral years of farm­ing in the vil­lage.

A three-day res­i­dency that con­cluded this Sun­day had an in­ter­ac­tive group of artists, writ­ers, aca­demi­cians and mu­si­cians paint­ing, read­ing, watch­ing films and play­ing mu­sic.

How did it all hap­pen? Preetinder re­named his home to ‘De­orhi Bulleh Shah’ (de­orhi is Pun­jabi for en­trance), in rev­er­ence to the Sufi poet-philoso­pher, for the oc­ca­sion. “When we went from the cot­ton heart­land to study art, a new world opened up be­fore us. We came across painters, writ­ers, the­atre ac­tivists and in­tel­lec­tu­als,” he says, “I had to come back to Malout to till my land, but kept tak­ing small ini­tia­tives to in­vite friends and work to­gether.”

“We wanted to cre­ate some­thing per­ma­nent so that young peo­ple are ex­posed to the arts, and their en­er­gies are chan­nelled,” says Kan­wal, who held a dis­play of his ‘Vil­lage’ se­ries of sculp­tures and draw­ings.

Two aca­demics from Mysore — Ka­mak­shi Bala­sub­ra­ma­nian, a writer of English and teacher of the Slavic lan­guage, and Mo­han Raj, scholar of science com­mu­ni­ca­tion and jour­nal­ism — took the op­por­tu­nity.

“They had long wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence ru­ral Pun­jab; and we wanted to ben­e­fit from their skills and var­ied ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Preetinder.

Sev­eral other lo­cal peo­ple were spe­cial in­vi­tees.

The res­i­dency in­cluded film shows fol­lowed by dis­cus­sions, read­ings, a calligraphy demon­stra­tion and a mu­si­cal per­for­mance.

Pun­jabi poet Lok Nath, who held a read­ing, says: “It was won­der­ful. Peo­ple re­sponded very well.” Others who read in­cluded Ka­mak­shi, Ra­jwinder Raja, a short story writer from Moga, and poet Sukhdev Matha­roo from Malout.

Calligraphy demon­stra­tion by lo­cal school teach­ers Sahib Singh, Rimpa Brar and Ch­hin­der­pal evoked a lot of in­ter­est, as did their ren­der­ing of po­ems of cel­e­brated Pun­jabi po­ets like Av­tar Paash. They teach lo­cal stu­dents the art of the quill and ink.

Kan­wal says, “We hope to make this an an­nual event, adding di­men­sions.” He adds that while Malwa re­gion of Pun­jab may be con­sid­ered back­ward, “it has given good writ­ers and artists”. “The res­i­dency will help nur­ture the young”.

Preetinder , who has been coach­ing stu­dents keen on join­ing art col­leges and all for a lark, says: “Artists, writ­ers, mu­si­cians and film­mak­ers are all wel­come to take short res­i­den­cies all year around. De­orhi Bulleh Shah is open to all cre­ative peo­ple.”

Malwa re­gion of Pun­jab may be con­sid­ered back­ward, but it has given good writ­ers and artists. KAN­WAL DHALI­WAL, one of the two artists be­hind the res­i­dency

HT

Artists who took part in the three­day res­i­dency at (right) Preetinder Singh Ba­jwa’s house that he has re­named ‘De­orhi Bulleh Shah’ in Muktsar.

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