By Ipshita Mitra:
India is a land of diverse cultures and languages but this 21st century, India can be located within an enmesh of mechanised representation of human condition in the entertainment sector supported by technological devices and satellite assistance that have the potential of pushing the traditional sources of Indian cultural heritage in terms of entertainment to a realm of anonymity. There are several instances when people try to prove their undying allegiance to their culture by taking on a self-proclaimed role of an arbiter. It is a sad discovery that forms of folk media and traditional entertainment have been relegated to the background with an upsurge of technological medium of entertainment. Why not question the dissolving status of theatre, drama and live stage performances (Jatra) and try resurrecting these forms from glamour laden world of TV and internet?
The decaying condition of the culture of JATRA amidst a proliferation of television channels, 24*7 DTH in rural interiors and an increased accessibility to the internet has invited an unfortunate misery for the jatra theatre troupes and artists in the district ofÂ Kendrapara in Orissa. Over 30,000 families reside on the brink of destitution due to a drastic dip in the popularity of jatra performance. People who were dependent on patronage garnered from live stage performances for their income growth to sustain their livelihood have now been relegated to a realm of deathlike anonymity under the onslaught of technological development and the booming entertainment sector.
Many theatre personalities and eminent artists lamented on the diminishing heritage of JATRA that had once formed the life of Eastern India with a distinct cultural identity.
Ananta Charan Ojha of Kendrapara accused the television, internet and other sources of entertainment for the declining condition of jatra troupes. He said in a statement to the reporters of the New Indian Express group (Bhubaneswar Edition) that “the overdose of entertainment programmes on television and immense popularity of Oriya and Hindi family soaps is forcing people to remain indoors and keep glued to their TV sets.” He added that the demand for jatra has diminished by a phenomenal degree because “the taste of audience has changed.” – New Indian Express article titled “Jatra fast losing popularity to TV,” dated January 9, 2011.
It is true that we have stepped into a century which defines itself on the lines of “modernity” and technological advancement; but to attain that “modernised” vision at the expense of discarding the traditional theatrical possessions that has an original character as far as the cultural lineage go will make us a prey to optical and cable concoctions in the name of “modernity”.
JATRA as a source of entertainment exceeds the fabricated versions of television serials and gimmicks in terms of quality, emotional component and relativity. To dislocate or weed out the tradition of JATRA from the socio-cultural fabric of Orissa or for that matter any part of the country will subtract a significant portion of historical consciousness from the creative soul of the nation.
Let the mind rule over machine!