Nayeem Hassan: Folk artist who chose journalism to become the voice of her community

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About 60 kilometers from the capital Srinagar, the Bomai region of northern Kashmir in Sopore is known for its folk performers generally referred to as “Baand” in the local parlance. Bomai Sopore ‘Bomaiyek Baand’ folk artists are famous all over Jammu and Kashmir.

“Baand pather (folk piece) is in my blood and I have to carry on my father’s legacy,” says Nayeem Hasaan, a folk artist. However, he deplores the lack of government support for the promotion of this art form.

Nayeem is the son of the legendary folk artist of the valley, the late Ghulam Hassan Bhat aka Betaab.

However, unlike his father who strove throughout his life to perform and exhibit his art in various programs, Nayeem Hassan Bhat thought of writing about the problems faced by folk artists and addressing the issue of his community with the government.

Besides helping his artists perform various folk pieces, Nayeem chose to study journalism as he found journalism to be a way to make his voice and that of his community heard. He did his degree in Mass Communication and took Convergent Journalism in his Masters program. Last semester, when asked to submit a research project, he chose a topic related to the very essence of his community.

Under the title, ‘Traditional Media in Kashmir: Localing Status of Baand pather and Ladishah’, a dissertation submitted for the award of a master’s degree in convergent journalism, Nayeem talks about Baand pather and Ladishah – popular media art forms which were the only medium highlighting the social problems of the past. It was thanks to Baand pather and Ladishah that people were getting updates on what was going on in government offices and around.

In his thesis, Nayeem discusses the social perception of Baand pather and Ladishah, the current status of these art forms from the experiences of performers and what successive governments have done either through initiatives policies, or by using them to promote any social action. message.

“I wrote in my thesis and I reiterate Baand pather and Ladishah is a dying art. There is no scope there. Either the government should come forward and help this community or call it a day off,” Nayeem said.

Nayeem believes that the government’s indifference towards this community is the main reason for the decline of this art form.

“Some government incentives should be there for our younger generation to love getting into this profession. We have about 72 villages and 35,000 people who belong to the Baand community in Kashmir. The government invites artists, singers from outside the valley and from foreign countries to perform on the banks of the Dal but when it comes to folk artists from our valley, we have to beg for a single performance. Governments spend millions of rupees on concerts but, willingly or not, are unwilling to devote time to folk theatre. Can we ask why? asks Nayeem.

After the death of his father, Nayeem now runs the ‘Bomai Baandh Theatre’ and has a team of 20 people in his theatre.

“Baand pather is our identity. Although we do other work for food, we are usually associated with it. There are 200 households and four baand groups in our community,” says Nayeem.

He says it’s hard to rely on art for sustenance.

“Years ago we used to play in weddings, but that’s over now. We barely get a chance or two (in a year) to exhibit our talent,” he said. added.

Gaash Roazi Fulnai, Praznath, Dal Muklith Beha Karai Aalaw, Ye Naar kith Xhewe are the four famous plays of the late Ghulam Hassan and his team. Nayeem also participated in many Pathers with his father.

“I have exhibited the art several times, but I have struggled to survive on this alone. We have center-sponsored programs for research, book publishing, but our state and art academies rarely care. Let there be a good helping hand from the government and cultural academies, I am sure that the younger generation will stick to this profession with new ideas. Let there be a national drama school and scholarships for artists,” Nayeem added.

At present, four theaters are operating in the Bomai district of Sopore. These include “Bomai Bandh Theatre”, “Wullar Theater Zangeer”, “Loukhe Theater Bomai and Qazi Kashmir Theater Bomai.

Nayeem is of the opinion that folk art can be revived through the use of social media and he is also working on this aspect.

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