Gambhira: the lost theatre of Bengal
Keywords:ritual theatre, Gambhira, socialist drama, mudda, implied audience, interpretive communities.
With the wake of postmodernist colonialism and capitalist economy several indigenous art forms have suffered a fatal blow taking down with it the micro-industries that supported the humble poets and artisans. Gambhira, is a ritual theatre that informs the popular festival of Gajan in the Malda and Dinajpur districts of Bengal, have suffered the same fate. These quirky, rebellious, socialist dramas were once observed with great flamboyance but contemporarily have waned with the rise of television industry.
The main purposes of this chapter are- firstly, to translate these Gambhira songs and interpret them in their context as an attempt to archive them under mainstream literature. Secondly, to establish that these songs provide entry points into the psychology and social perceptions of the lower strata and probe into their participation in the colonial modernity. Thirdly, as Anindita Gosh argues it is important to explore these songs “in the creation of ‘interpretive communities’ sharing common codes and expectations, themes and motifs” (113). Fourthly, the chapter analyzes how these songs have contributed to forming a new audience and their increasing participation in these performances. These experiences facilitated the creation of a shared platform between the performers and the audiences.