Load Set Fire : Remembering the the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh

Loreto College, Kolkata, Mayo College Girls School, Ajmer, Masterpeace Bengal & Culture Monks remembers the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh through a performance called

Load Set Fire

a performance by the girls of Mayo College Girls School , Ajmer, directed by Parnab Mukherjee.

Loreto College, Kolkata at 11 am.

Name of Performers

Sanidhi Singh
Navya Chopra
Karmanya Nathawat
Navya Mehta
Radhika Purohit
Gurleen Kaur

This will be preceded by a poem called Numbers performed by the boys of B K Birla Centre for Education , Poona.

Directed by Parnab Mukherjee

About the Play

Into that realm where braveness become a mindset and not bravado lies our play.

Everybody admits that self-sacrifice is infinitely superior to the sacrifice of others. Moreover if such a cause is unjust only the person using it suffers. He does not make others suffer for his mistakes. Men have before done many things that they have subsequently found to be wrong. No man can claim that he is absolutely in the right or that a particular thing is wrong because he thinks so, but it is wrong for him so long as that is his deliberate judgment. It is therefore meant that he should not do that which he knows to be wrong and suffer the consequence. This is the key to the use of soul force.

Swaraj is when we learn to rule ourselves. It is therefore, in the palm of our hands. Do not consider this Swaraj to be just a dream. There is no idea of sitting still. The Swaraj which I wish to picture is that, after we have once realized it, we will endeavour to the end of our life-time to persuade others to act likewise. This Swaraj needs to be experienced, by each one of himself. One drowning man will never save another. Slave ourselves, it might be mere pretension to think, of saving others. Now as you have seen it is not necessary for us to have as our goal the expulsion of the English. If the English become Indianized, we can accommodate them. If they remain in India along with their civilization we have no room for them. It lies with us to bring such state of changes.

Gandhiji’s lines in Hind Swaraj

Using a series of physical theatre movements, body sculpts and found objects, the play tries to look at the futility of violence. But the path still has painful snapshots that keep confronting us.

Our play is a series of images. Ranging from Manipur to East Timor. From struggles in Aceh to images of Iraq. From the starkness of Bhopal to lost hope in Golan Heights. The body is used as a tool to look at the images that haunt us. And the praxis, the dialectic that guides us through this choppy images is The arrival at Jallianwala Bagh massacre and what it means for us. That hammers away the fact. That world is not a bunch of celebrities doing some inane populist nonsense and pretending that they are the world. They can be “a” world and not “our” world. Our world is individual and the collective. The individual contain multitudes and the collective nurses that individual flame of dissent. So ideas are dense, multi-directional, multi-faceted and believes in a collage of slogans that enhances humanity and not merely showcases individual aspiration. Aspirations that percolate and churn the cesspool.

Directors Note

When a man rises from sleep, he twists his limbs and is restless. Similarly, although the Partition has caused an awakening, the comatose condition has not yet disappeared. We are still twisting our limbs and are still restless, and just as the state between sleep and awakening is considered to be necessary, so is the present unrest in India be considered a necessary and therefore, a proper state. The knowledge that there is unrest will, it is highly probable, enable us to outgrow it. Rising from sleep, we do not continue in the comatose condition, but according to our abilities, we are soon restored to our senses……Gandhiji in Hind Swaraj

One hundred years and more than a decade of a seminal work. When Hind Swaraj was first published many raised eyebrows. Many believed that here was a pamphlet of anarchy. A century later, Hind Swaraj still answers many questions especially the disturbing one: Who or what makes an icon? For that matter who or what makes a youth icon? And Gandhiji concludes through a series of sharp observations that an icon is never the figurehead it is always an idea. And what matters is not what who did what instead the crux is who changed what?

It can be a change in the mindset. It can be a change in the way of national thinking. It can be bringing/introducing/re-introducing changes that make tangible difference. Yes, youth is defined by age but not merely the biological age. As Gandhiji says in Hind Swaraj that it is ultimately the soul force. It has to be defined by the newness of thinking, the ability to dare and to look the odds into the eye. A changemaker can be a sportsman, a peacenik, a labourer, a human rights activist, a sportsman, a painter, a lawyer, a bunch of activists or even a group or collective that gives birth to an idea who’s time has come or which is far ahead of times. But the change maker has to be in active change and not some passive theoretical change that is chained by pedagogy.

Idea is not something you paste on the walls. You do that for heroes or superstars, the landscape of ideas are a little different. So, it is a tragedy that Che and Bhagat Singh ended up being in the T-shirt more than in the mindset. We are sure that Che or Bhagat Singh did not want it that way. They wanted activism to be cool but that coolness had a non-dogmatic ideological basis. We mixed up the coolness as being fashionable. The cultural voyeurs that turned the Swaraj into a marketable commodity than as a guiding lighting.

As Gandhiji puts it:

Swaraj is when we learn to rule ourselves. It is therefore, in the palm of our hands. Do not consider this Swaraj to be just a dream. There is no idea of sitting still. The Swaraj which I wish to picture is that, after we have once realized it, we will endeavour to the end of our life-time to persuade others to act likewise. This Swaraj needs to be experienced, by each one of himself. One drowning man will never save another. Slave ourselves, it might be mere pretension to think, of saving others. Now as you have seen it is not necessary for us to have as our goal the expulsion of the English. If the English become Indianized, we can accommodate them. If they remain in India along with their civilization we have no room for them. It lies with us to bring such state of changes.

Passive resistance is the method of securing rights through personal suffering. It is, the opposite of resistance by arms. If I refuse to do a thing is repugnant to my conscience, I use soul-force. For instance, the government of the day has passed a law which is applicable to me. I do not like it. If I use violence to force the government to repel the law, I am employing what is termed as body-force. I don’t obey the law and accept the penalty for the breech, I use soul-force. It is the sacrifice of self.

Our play is a series of images. Ranging from Manipur to East Timor. From struggles in Aceh to images of Iraq. From the starkness of Bhopal to lost hope in Golan Heights. The body is used as a tool to look at the images that haunt us. And the praxis, the dialectic that guides us through this choppy images is The arrival at Jallianwala Bagh massacre and what it means for us. That hammers away the fact. That world is not a bunch of celebrities doing some inane populist nonsense and pretending that they are the world. They can be “a” world and not “our” world. Our world is individual and the collective. The individual contain multitudes and the collective nurses that individual flame of dissent. So ideas are dense, multi-directional, multi-faceted and believes in a collage of slogans that enhances humanity and not merely showcases individual aspiration. Aspirations that percolate and churn the cesspool.

I would like to conclude by quoting Gandhiji: …..

I should be prepared to be killed by an arrow of Bhil than to seek unmanly protection…

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