A Dying Art Form struggles to celebrate the Ever-Living Gods India has many form of theatre (leela) – from the classical... Read More
A Dying Art Form struggles to celebrate the Ever-Living Gods
India has many form of theatre (leela) – from the classical to folk to tribal to dance to street – which celebrate the eternal stories of its Gods. While many survive, this little known and local to the ancient city of Banaras is struggling against all odds to survive even a few more years. It is most unusual in that it is completely presented by children and is reformed once a year, its stage being the streets and steps along the river Ganges. The scripted dialogues are spoken by the young actors, interestingly prompted by elders who walk along with the actors, and it changes and evolves during the performance itself and the enthusiastic audience freely participates in the show!
What interests this photographer, Jayesh Sharma, is the way this form is being marginalised from the development of the city as it heads into rapid modernisation and change. The theatre is losing its audience with newer forms of entertainment creeping in and priorities of societies changing. In a few years this too will disappear from the city’s fabric like so much else, leaving little memory of ever having existed for what is believed to be close to five hundred years. Jayesh has chosen to movingly record and portray its last performances so at least some record remains.