Puran Bhagat revived

Published: December 25, 2010
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Following its success, commercial theatre has evolved and has now become a popular choice.

Following its success, commercial theatre has evolved and has now become a popular choice.

LAHORE: Following its commercial success, popular commercial theatre has evolved however street theatre, also called nautanki or folk theatre, has stuck fast to the rules that were placed years ago.

Folk festivals that are rarely organised by government bodies and art councils are the only way for folk artistes to reach out to large city based audiences who otherwise don’t get a chance to watch these performances. Though these performances might lack some technical expertise, the acting skills and content is remarkable.

The 700-year old story of Puran Bhagat was staged by a Faisalabad folk theatre group on the second day of Punjab Arts Council’s folk theatre festival at the Bagh-e-Jinnah Open Air Theatre. As far as content and acting was concerned, the play was exceptionally good but still had an approximate cost of only Rs50,000 as opposed to an average commercial play, which costs about Rs0.3 million to produce and can even cost up to Rs3 million if the cast members are well known.

The play tells the story of Raja Salvahan of Sialkot who is told by an astrologer that when he has a son, he must be sent away for 12 years otherwise a great calamity will fall on the kingdom. When Puran is born, he is sent away to be raised by pundits and is brought back to his father when he is 12 years old. By this time his father has married again and Puran is asked to pay respect to his wife, Luna but when Luna sees Puran she is instantly besotted. Puran avoids her but Luna convinces the king to have Puran’s hands and feet amputated and his body dumped in a well outside the city walls.

He remains in the well for some 12 years until a Hindu saint Guru Goraknath passes by the well and cures him.  Puran becomes Goraknath’s disciple and after many years he returns to Sialkot as a Bhagat and convinces Luna to tell the truth about what actually happened and reveals himself to be the son of Salvahan.

The two-hour long play captivated the audience and kept them engrossed throughout. The performance kept traditional style intact and the roles of female were also played by male artists.

Director Zeeshan Ali told The Express Tribune that the play was quite popular in the villages of Punjab. He added that, “The well where Puran was dumped still exists in Sialkot and women from far flung areas go there to bathe in the wells water which is considered a cure for infertility.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • ismaeel
    Dec 27, 2010 - 7:11AM

    I have visited the spot where the Puran’s well & temple is situated in Sialkot & it is in such a good condition that no one can imagine that it is more than 2000 years old.
    Sialkot is the seventh oldest city of the world which is still alive & that temple are proof for it but most of the people don’t know about them….Recommend

  • vishu
    Dec 29, 2010 - 11:09AM

    This is what is called your culture and you pretends to be Arabians, muslim majority country watched Hindu type of play and captivated for 2 hours, dont be get aliened due to switch over to Islam, though you people are muslim but your ansisters were Hindus and you have all rights to know the truth.

    There is lots of this type historic references which roots to your own country but sadly majority of you people don’t accept the truth, look at the Indonesians being muslim majority country they still perform Ramayan in there stage play and they are very proud of it. you can still find some name still risambles to there ansisters.

    You can change your cloths,foods,habitats, Religion,Wife but you cannot change few things in your life that is your
    Blood from your forefathers coz the culture lies in your blood even through you are muslim but still your ansisters were Hindus

    God bless you allRecommend

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