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Alkazi Theatre Archives

Print & Theatre

Unearthing Postcolonial Modernity: Prabhat Kumar Tripathi’s ‘Desi Dimaag Ki Jarurat’ in Kalavaarta (1981)

What does one mean when one uses the term ‘modern’ in a globalized and privatized Indian society? Aparna Dharwadker in her book ‘Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present’ (2018) notes, ‘An overtly decolonizing strain in post-independence discourse has rejected the modernity associated with western modes of representation as a damaging colonialist imposition, and argued for an alternative postcolonial modernity based on premodern indigenous traditions of performance. Within these polemical-critical polarities, modernity functions either as a simplistic principal of chronological demarcation without clear historical or qualitative referents, or as the sign of practices that must be placed under ideological erasure because of their manifest links to colonialism’.

The complex nature of modernism can be observed in the writings of Prabhat Kumar Tripathi in 1981. Citing American sociologist C. Wright Miller’s quote on the image of success and its individualistic psychology as the most lively aspect of today’s popular culture, Prabhat Kumar Tripathi in the April 1981 issue of Kalavarta puts out an appeal for ‘desi’ brains urging intellectuals of India to engage with western knowledge critically. With such an appeal he explains further that contemporary intellectuals directly consume and employ western knowledge and its concepts as a ready-made product without critically engaging with the Indian realities.

Unearthing Postcolonial Modernity- Prabhat Kumar Tripathi’s ‘Desi Dimaag Ki Jarurat’ in Kalavaarta (1981)

Images Courtesy: Anand Gupt Collection/ Alkazi Theatre Archive