A century of Baithaks 
Text & photos: Thakur Paramjit, Chandigarh 
e-mail: thakurparamjit@yahoo.co.uk 

July 5, 2005 

Every form of art needs patrons to flourish. Dance and music is no exception. In the ancient times, kings and nobles used to perform this role. In the modern world, the government and NGOs are expected to play a useful role not only to encourage the budding artists but also to ensure that our rich cultural heritage does not perish in the times to come. 

A praiseworthy step in this direction was taken by Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh on 14th April 1995, when it launched its monthly Baithak programme to provide a platform to budding artists in the field of dance and music. Conceptualised and organised by M L Koser, himself an adept dancer, this programme has been encouraging the artists for 100 months. Artists are invited (and paid too) to perform in the auditorium of the Kendra in front of art lovers of the city. Their performance is covered in the local press too. Thus a new spirit is infused in their pursuit of art and they try to improve their skills. 

To celebrate a century of Baithaks, a five day long schedule was chalked out in which two plays were enacted. A comedy titled "Paisa Bolda Hai" (money speaks) revolved around a humble servant who was maltreated by his employers till he won a prize in the lottery. The changing attitudes of people towards the servant when he was poor and when he became rich shed light into the thinking of mankind, and created many hilarious situations. The second play, titled "Sarpanchani" (the head of village Panchayat), was an admirable attempt by noted playwright Gursharan Singh to project the actual life of women in a village. "Women are at par with men before law. That is what is enshrined in the Constitution. But in real life, society continues to nurture anti-women notions and bigoted attitudes," he said. 

Shahid Parvaz
Anuradha - Paul
The musical evenings included sitar recital by Manu Kumar Seen, sufiana melodies by Mamta Joshi, and Kathak dance by disciples of Guru Shobha Koser. 
Ranjana Sarkar
Dance troupe from Orissa
Purva Koser
"The concept of holding monthly Baithaks have spread to other parts of the country too, prominent among these being Bhubaneswar, Puri and Kolkata," says M L Koser. Good. But all concerned people and institutions have to join hands to save creative arts in the modern materialistic world. While the cultural policy of our government aims at promoting performing arts, only wishful thinking or scrabbling on paper cannot serve the purpose. While the government should make sincere efforts, the office bearers of famous academies must also give preference to the cause of art, work on national issues concerning performing arts and shun egoistic attitudes and infighting on petty matters. 

Thakur Paramjit is a writer/photographer based in Chandigarh. He is a regular contributor to narthaki.com. He can be contacted on his mobile: +91-94172-10101.