“I see an awakening in people here”
My relationship with Chandigarh started when I left my hometown Patiala and came here to join the theatre course in Panjab University in 1971. Though I left for Delhi to join the NSD for three years, Chandigarh never left me. I was sure that I would settle here. And I did, eventually. During all these years, I have seen different shades of the city, seen it evolve in many ways, and also degenerate. But I guess every city has to undergo that journey to derive a character for itself. What I love about Chandigarh is the fact that this place offers immense space. And this holds true not just in the physical, but also the metaphorical sense. Whoever comes here cannot refute the sense of freedom he or she feels in this city.
As an artist, I feel that Chandigarh is open to a lot of experiments. The people in this city are receptive towards newer things and are ready to expose themselves to new experiences. Considering that I do a lot of community theatre on bold themes, I see that they are not averse to paying attention to concepts which are alien to them.
Also, the cosmopolitan nature of this city has always fascinated me. I love the fact that people from different regions and cultures have made the city their home. They have brought with them a certain cultural diversity that has lent a peculiar charm to this place and made the city what it is now. From the time that I first came here, I see a certain awakening in the people here, something which I am proud of. The level of education is great here, they are aware about their rights and duties.
But there are certain things that have always disturbed me— the elites and their attitude. You see them in big cars on the geri route all day long. They are the ones who are sucking the city dry without contributing a bit. I wonder what has happened to their sense of responsibility. I am not a communist, but how can we evade our social responsibilities? They belong to the class that enjoys power without responsibility, something which is always dangerous for the society. This class has no stand, no intensity of emotion and thought. All they want to do is maintain their status quo. Something which cultural activists like me are always against.
The author is the Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademy