Sunday, February 24, 2013

Salil Chowdhury on IPTA

From an interview with Kalpana Biswas "You will notice that many such artists came out of the farming communities of different parts of India and joined the IPTA movement. These phenomena continued well after the Independence. But gradually we found that the movement lost its momentum. The groups started breaking up. Some still lament the fact that IPTA did not last. Personally I think that the movement did not die, instead it gave birth to multiple similar dramatic and musical groups, which followed the ideals IPTA was based on � art for the people and by the people. Those new cultural organizations sprang up all over India. After this happened, there was no need to have another organization called IPTA. This was one reason. Secondly, gradually visible cracks in the leftist political movements in India and abroad brought tremendous hopelessness among our intellectuals. We saw that China and Russia were bickering; Yugoslavia separated itself from the politics of Eastern Europe, and the politics in Vietnam took a different shape. We also saw that the Communist parties in France and Italy were going their own ways and proposing quite different things. These events created enormous confusion and frustration among our intellectuals and spawned several communist parties of various flavors, such as, CPI (Communist Party of India), CPI (M � Marxist), Naxalite (Leninist-Maoist), parties among other, and had great impact on our progressive cultural movements. Now, this confusion and hopelessness among the leftist intellectuals and artists helped abstraction in art rise again and champion art for art's sake. Gradually vulgarity became quite commonplace on the public stage, such as, cabaret dances were introduced in the public theatre, even in Jatras (folk theatres). This kind of onslaught on progressive cultural movement began because the united left cultural movement broke up. These days we are observing a new spark. Many artists of today are consciously thinking about ways to start a united leftist cultural movement. I have discussed this possibility with many of them. But I believe that we cannot bring back the old IPTA any longer. We cannot think of singing songs or staging dramas of that scale that we attained during those days. The biggest reason why we cannot do what we did thirty to thirty five years ago is that the climate of mass media of communication has changed radically during all these years. During those years not more than ten to twelve movies used to be made in a year, so we could stage our plays to rival the cinema of that time. In those days movies were the vehicles of clean story telling. Stories mostly from the works of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, and from Indian Classics were made into movies. Except a few, most of those stories were never a threat to our cultural revolutionary movement, so our radical plays could easily compete with the movies during those years. But the number of movies has gone up from ten a year to six hundred a year in last thirty years! And most of these movies are made in Hindi."
More in the interview and the site
I do not understand why many of these leftists kept their caste names .A few like Pucchalapalli Sundarayya, Kondapati Seetharamaiah droped Reddy from their names but a majority of leftists did not. Some farms of IPTA with other flavours still continue. Some recent activities in Hyderabad "Andhra Pradesh Praja Natya Mandali, affiliated to Indian Peoples Theatre Association will be organizing “Praja Kala Utsavaalu” in Ravindra Bharati here from January 7 to 9[2013]."

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