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Art & Culture

Folk theater flavor witnessed at Gaiety





Performance of various Himachali folk theater forms captivated audiences

Shimla-A five days long ; that is from March 1 to 5; folk culture festival organized by the art and culture group Platform at the Historic Gaiety Theatre’s amphitheatre, the Mall in association with the Ministry of Culture, New Delhi and Department of Language Art and Culture Himachal Pradesh finally concluded with a bang.

While informing about the festival Ajay Sharma, President of Platform said, “It was my sincere effort to make people aware about Himachali culture and folk theatre as youngsters are getting away from their roots. We have also organized the five days long exhibition for the people where we exhibited dressed and various native musical instruments too.”

During this, five days long festival people got an opportunity to peep inside the various cultural folk theater forms like Barlaaj – Kullu; Horingfo- Kinnaur; Kareyala- Shimla; Banthana- Mandi; and last but not the least Thoda and Harul – Sirmour.

Though the festival kick started on a disappointing note as the performance of Barlaaj can easily be identified with the story of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem A broken song where Baraj says with hands clasped, ‘Master, our days are gone. New men have come now, new styles and customs in the world. The singer along does not make a song, there has to be someone who hears. . . Where there is no love, where listeners are dumb, there never can be song’ as feelings of the performing group members were mutual.

Though the performance started with full zeal and caught attention of the people but unfortunately I was brought to an abrupt end due to lack of spectators left to enjoy the traditional musical performance. As S.N. Joshi a well known theater personality while sharing his views about each day performance shared “Barlaj is presented in two different styles in Himachal. The first is ‘singing tradition’ and the ‘lokgatha’ (folklore) is sung in Rampur Bushehr, Nirmand, Sarahan, Dutt Nagar, Nirath and Outer Seraj. Slow rhythms accompanied by music from damaru or khanjari generally do not appeal to the people if the dialect is not understood. There is no drama in it. It is the story of Baliraja who was a demon-king and had tried to capture the throne of Indra – the king of Gods, but Lord Vishnu dodged him by incarnating as dwarf. This story was sung on the first evening of the folk-fest but could not impress the audience. The second style of Barlaj is opera-like, performed in the lower parts of Shimla and Sirmaur districts. Because there is drama in it, it attracts the people. Had the organizers brought the opera-Barlaj, it would have been an enjoyable evening.”


“Karyala”, folk-theatre of Shimla, Sirmaur and Solan districts has crude humour in it and the beauty of it is its vulgarity (it is different from obscenity) – the language and behavior of the folk. All the swangs (crude comedy) was nicely portrayed and the Babu, in one of the swangs, with his broken English, stance and carriage was attractive. The second beauty of Karyala is impromptu dialogue delivery and quite a few dialogues were wittily coined there and then.

Whereas, Banthra the oldest form of folk-theatre in Himachal Pradesh. It is performed in Mandi and Bilaspur districts. Banthra that was presented here was from Shiva-Badhar area of Mandi district. Its beauty was its originality. It stuck to the tradition in costumes – even the garland around the performers was made of the remains of corn after taking the grains out. The crudity of Karyala was also visible in Banthra and it started with Devstuti (praising the God) and Manglacharan (auspicious prayer)– as it should – instead of the dance of Chandrauli as in Karyala.


Thoda is a battle-folkdance of Himachal played with bow and arrow. The imagery of fight between Shathi and Pashi with bow and arrow is reminiscent of what happened in Mahabharata when Kauravs fought against Pandavas. The beauty of this sport-cum-dance is the exchange of satirical words between the two parties but the open air stage was so small for this dance that the sounds of dhol and nagara drowned the words of the players and the clarity from those went missing. The words exchanged between the two rivals are interesting but those could not fully reach the ears of the audience. Moreover, there was apprehension that the arrow, though blunted, could hit one among the audience, so the players had to restrict their movements.

To wit, it was a commendable attempt to bring the folk from the villages to the town of Shimla but the venue selected was congested. Folk needs wide open space finally concluded Joshi.

However due to some reasons the Horingfo show got cancelled leaving many spectators disheartened. However the day ended with another much talked about controversy regarding violation of rules in the Gaiety. As few people who where not aware about the cancelation of the show found the poster announcing some other show which too did not take place and instead the man was seen talking in harsh tone near the performing venue yelling at the team member who were suppose to perform.

The exhibition turned out to be a best event as it was able to please all people and did not target any particular audience. The traditional dresses and musical instruments attracted people from all over the city.

Art & Culture

Shimla’s emerging filmmaker grabs 3 more awards for short-film “Papa”



Papa Short Film by Siddharth wins awards

Shimla: Shimla-based emerging short-film maker Sidharth Chauhan (27) has grabbed more awards for his work “Papa.”  His short-film Papa has received three awards at the Vintage International Film Festival, 2018.

As per the results announced on March 20, 2018, the movie won Sidharth the best short-film award in the National category. The film also won the best director award for Siddhartha and best cinematography award for Yashwant Kumar Sharma.

The film is written, produced, and directed by Sidharath.

Papa is the same film that was first screened at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival in Kerala in 2016 where it claimed its first award (best film).

Later, Papa made its first international premiere at the London Indian Film Festival in 2017 where the short film won the Satyajit Ray award. 

It was a mature storytelling which balanced a realistic sense of frustration and claustrophobia, with a finely nuanced thread of subtle and deadpan humour,

said the jury.

The film is a story of a paralyzed mother, Sushma and her young son, Rajiv, who are living a tough life post an accident, which left their lives scarred forever.

You can read more about the film, its crew, location etc. in one of our previous posts.

Other than Papa, Sidharth’s short-film Pashi has also fetched appreciation and awards for Sidharth.

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Art & Culture

Himachal’s traditional ‘Mandi Shivratri’ fair begins today



Mandi shivratri 2018 pictures

Mandi: The traditional Shivratri Mela of Mandi district, which is a week-long international fair, began today as the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jai Ram Thakur, formally announced the opening at the historical Paddal ground at Mandi. 

This year’s celebrations are special for the people of Mandi as it is the native place of the Chief Minister. Also, Bhartiya Janata Party has captured all 10 seats in the district including the support of the one independent candidate.  

I am happy to see all nine MLAs including an Independent who have gathered here for celebrating the festival with traditional fervour,

he said.

Earlier, after paying obeisance at the famous Madho Rai temple, the Chief Minister participated in the traditional ‘Jaleb’ (Shobha Yatra) of Shivratri fair, which began from DC office to end at the Paddal ground.

Mandi shivratri 2018

Local deities along with the Chief deity Madho Rai led the procession.

The locals draped in their colourful attire thronged the procession carrying along the palanquins of the local deities and marched towards the Paddal Mela ground. A little less than two hundred Devtas participated in the ‘Jaleb’, the traditional Shobha Yatra, from almost all corners of the district.

The life of the people of the state revolves around the local Gods and Goddesses, and the local deities are an inseparable part of the people. The Shivratri festival gives a glimpse of ‘Dev and Manav Milan’ (the meeting of humans with deities), he said.

The Chief Minister announced a hike of 20 percent in ‘nazarana’ of the local deities, 20 percent hike in ration quota, and two times increase in honorarium of ‘Bajantris’ – the musicians who accompany the deities.

As compared to Rs. 3,64,000 in 2017, with two times rise in honorarium of Bajantris, the expenditure the expenditure will be Rs. 7,31,000  in 2018.   

The Chief Minister has assured that the government will register the left-out deities in a phase-wise manner.

 ‘Sarv Devta Committee’ will formulate the guidelines, examine each case, will pass a resolution in the house unanimously, and the committee will forward the case to the district administration for necessary action. 

 The Chief Minister also released a souvenir of the festival on the occasion. 

He said the government would soon come up with parking places to decongest traffic.  

The Chief Minister said Mandi will be connected with air services under UDAN scheme, (a regional connectivity scheme of Government of India). A helipad will be constructed in Mandi, he said. 

The state government will take up the issue with the Union government along with the demand for direct flights from Chandigarh to Kullu, Kangra, Shimla and for tribal areas,  the Chief Minister assured. 

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Art & Culture

Pahari short-film Pashi wins best Cinematography award at Marietta Film Festival in Georgia



Siddharth Chauhan’s Himachali short-film Pashi has won the best Cinematography award at Marietta International Film Festival in Georgia,  Europe in the short-film category.

Earlier, Pashi had also made it to an Oscar qualifying ‘Rhode Island International Film Festival’held in USA in August 2017. It was the first international premiere for the film. Like Rhode Island, at Marietta too, Pashi was the only entry from India, said Sidharth.

Siddharth was the Director of photography while Yashwant Kumar Sharma was his cameraman.

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The film is inspired from Siddharth’s childhood memories in his village Dhanoti, Rohru of Shimla district and produced under the Secret Corridor Picture.

In the regional Pahari spoken in Rohru, Pashi means a trap – an ancient concept used by villagers & children for hunting birds and animals.

pashi film shooting locationThe film was primarily shot in Sunta Lodge, a beautiful wooden mansion of village Khalwan. Some of the parts were also filmed in Village Dhanoti neat Tikker (Rohru).

Pashi will be showcased at Shanghai International Film Festival in Shanghai on the September 17. On February 2, 2018, the film will be showcased at the World Music and Independent Film Festival in Washington where it already has five nominations – Best Director, Best Screenplay Writer, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor.

Siddharth has emerged as a talented filmmaker from the Hill state where the film industry is still in infancy. Luckily, the parents of Siddharth, Mr. Balwan Singh Chauhan and Mrs. Bimla Chauhan offered a thorough support to him in his endevour.

Lead actors of the film include Chetan Kanwar, a Class XII student at the Chapslee School, Shimla, John Negi, a model/actor from Rampur, Kamayani Bisht, an English Professor at the Government College Theog, Savitri Devi Sunta, the oldest family member of the Sunta family in Khawalan.

Supporting case includes Dewansh Kanwar (Chapslee School), Aditi Sunta ( Rohru), and Dev Ranta (Rohru).

Other crew members are as followed.

  • Assistant Directors: Mridul Surbhi, Shefali Chauhan & Ankit Rathore
  • Music: Prabir Sekhri from Canada
  • Sound: Tanmaya Das from Mumbai
  • Visual Effects: Himanshu Hirwani from Pune
  • Story/Direction: Siddharth Chauhan from Shimla
  • Associate Producers: Swati Chauhan & Ankit Rathore (from Delhi)


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