Monday, April 22, 2024

Upholding a traditional art form

Abdul Kuddus is an artiste who popularised the traditional theatre form of the greater Mymensigh region known as palagaan by staging the art form.
Being invited by Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation in November 1988, Abdul Kuddus staged “Feroz Khan Dewan and Moriom Bibir Pala”, based on a true story of Jangalbari, Kishoreganj, at the Mahila Samity stage in Dhaka, which not only attracted huge audience, but also gave new ideas to the urban theatre practitioners.
Even foreign experts such as Padmasree Teejan Bai, a popular Indian artiste who presents the Mahabharata in narratives, was overwhelmed watching his ability of enacting 20 characters in the aesthetically rich production.
That was the beginning of a new career of Kuddus—popularly known as Kuddus Bayati—who hails from Kendua under Netrakona district. Initially, he had been very popular by performing traditional palagaan amongst people in his locality.
Abdul Kuddus Bayati, a leading palakar (narrator in palagaan folk genre) in the country, has composed over 80 palas based on the myths of the greater Mymensigh region such as Holek Badshah, Kanchan Badshah, Feroz Khan Dewan, Mahua, Malua, Kamola Rani, Dewan Madina, Rupaboti, Bhelua and Mehernegar.
Palagaan or narrative folk ballad is usually based on the stories of the puranas and folktales. A palagaan has an introduction and a prologue in praise of a legend. Its narration in prose is brief and the rest consists of metaphysical discourses, shlokas and songs.
Vivid descriptions and realistic portrayal of characters are special features of these palagaan, which use dialect and folk melody. Many of the popular palagaans have been included in Moimensingha Geetika and Purbabanga Geetika.
For over past two decades, Abdul Kuddus Bayati has been staging palagaan in home and abroad.  He performed at the silver jubilee celebration of BTV and several other TV programmes. His performance of the Unicef commercial Ei Din Din Noy Aro Din Achhe gave Kuddus Boyati nationwide popularity.
Besides, performing palagaan, Kuddus also renders other folk songs. He staged shows in USA, UK and India. He has also conducted workshop on palagaan at the department of Drama and Dramtics of Jahangirnagar University.
Recently, Abdul Quddus Bayati has taken initiatives to promote the traditional singers to the urban audience. Last June, Kuddus organised a folk festival at the Plaza of the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in which traditional artistes from Mymensigh, Kishoreganj, Netrokona and Manikganj staged various genres of traditional performing art forms.
After the Eid, he is planning to arrange a five-day ‘Kissa Festival” (a traditional art form) at the Shilpakala Academy. ‘The traditional artistes are neglected in the country. I had to struggle a lot to achieve the nationwide popularity. I believe it’s my responsibility to promote the traditional artistes who have been upholding the tradition despite the ongoing cultural diffusion,’ Kuddus Bayati told New Age.
‘I’ve already proposed to Shilpakala authorities to allow us to demonstrate the traditional art forms at the district Shilpakala Academy auditoriums, which will not only promote the traditional art forms, but also create opportunity for the rural artistes to survive,’ he added.
Kuddus Bayati urged the government and private patrons to support the traditional artistes. Otherwise, he believes, the tradition will be lost in midst of satellite and foreign cultural aggression. ‘I’ll die, but I want my tradition to survive.  It’s the time to preserve the traditional art forms… Otherwise the oral tradition of folk genre will be lost forever,’ says Kuddus.
Kuddus Bayati said that these days he has been creating new palas based on the contemporary issues. However, the presentation style is traditional. On his own style, Kuddus Bayati said that using normal props such as small doll, sari, pillow, whip, wooden sword, he can perform up to 20 characters simultaneously in a pala.

-With New Age input

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