Play: Garak Ho Riha Manukh, 1991
Written by: Dr. Davinder Singh
Directed by: Mushtaq Kak, Amateur Theatre Group
Punjab witnessed a rapid acceleration in the rate of insurgencies in the early 1990s due to the armed militancy for Khalistan which demanded a separate Sikh state through the secessionist movement, intending to implement a strict religious code of conduct. The people of Punjab were trapped between the Central Government and a parallel government of insurgents. “After a decade of living with the killings, the curfew, and the kidnappings, the people of Punjab have no alternative but to make their peace with the militants who no longer run a parallel government but the Government itself…If the militant says to kill your dog you kill them (India Today, January 15, 1991).”
‘Garak Ho Riha Manukh’, a play written in Punjabi by Dr. Davinder Singh, was directed by Mushtaq Kak and performed by the Amateur Theatre Group (ATG) from Jammu and Kashmir on March 20, 1991. It was produced in collaboration with Sangeet Natak Akademi. The play captures the violent and turmoiled socio-political climate in Punjab during 1990-91, through a commentary on the deteriorating state of humanity. Using humor, wit, and satire the play creates a psychological rather than a naturalistic environment with the use of affect through light, set, and sound design. According to the set designers, Anil Warikoo and Kapil Warikoo, items such as plastic bags, steps, platforms, totems, and columns were used in the making of the miseen-scène of the play. The arrangement for lights was choreographed based on jagged diagonal lines and strong jarring colors; in rhythm with silence and action.
The play begins with vultures being offered the dead bodies of human beings by a man. The vultures consider the offering reluctantly in the beginning. In the next scene, the man offers humans, who are alive, to the vultures. In the end, the man is unable to fulfill the demand of the vultures and as a result, the birds kill and feast on the body of the man himself.Garak Ho Riha Manukh, 1991
Source: Brochure, ‘Garak Ho Riha Manukh’. March 20, 1991. Image Courtesy – Anand Gupt collection/Alkazi Theatre Archives