As a dance critic, I came to know of the work of Bhanu Bharti, through his friend and celebrated director Ratan Thiyam. Bhanu’s adaptation of K.N. Pannikkar’s Malayalam play Pashu Gayatri, a community theatre of the Bheels of the Mewari region of Rajasthan had drawn the attention of serious theatre practioners. It was translated into Mewari by Deepak Joshi. The highlight of the production was that it was presented with original performers and outside their environment before an urban audience on the modern stage. At one point it became Bhanu’s signature play and he followed it up with two more plays—Kaal Katha and Amar Beej in Gavari style, giving a contemporary ring to the beliefs of Bheels, their rituals and legends. In the 80s it was shown at the most major Indian theatre festivals and even today there seems a demand for that play. Diwan Singh Bajeli, the reputed drama critic has studied the Gavari form visiting Rajasthan. He also visited Rajasthan with Bhanu Bharti to acquaint himself with the style and life of Bheels and get a proper perspective of Bhanu’s theatre.
May 2014, volume 38, No 5