(Last Updated on : 25/07/2009)
Bawa Budh Singh was an essayist. He was the pioneer of satirical farce in Punjabi theatre
. Born in 1878 he was unburdened by religious or reformist zeal. In this respect, he differed from his literary contemporaries, who in the first instance had the impulse to awaken people to the glory of religion and virtue of piety. Human foibles seemingly charmed him, but he wanted people to dispense with them in the last instance. In spite of their traditional form, Bawa's plays aspired to grapple with new themes. Their novelty lies in this tension between their theme and form.
In Mundri chhal i.e. 'Ring Trick' in 1908 Bawa borrowed from legend to show how flattery of women caused havoc in life. Chandar Hari employs several stories to underline marital misalliance which, he held, resulted from traditional marriages. In this bride and groom were yoked together to observe conditions ordained by religious orthodoxy, the caste system, and convention-ridden society. Abduction, adultery, rape, and harlot hunting were the result. These are illustrated strikingly in this sprawling play. Nar naveli or 'Modern Woman' in 1928 dilated upon the moral depravity that marked rich sections intent on aping colonial masters, cutting across all religious affiliations. This well-structured play has three scenes integrally bound to one another. Damini i.e. 'Lightning' in 1930 dealt with the problem of tribalism which, instead of showing tribals as backward, exalted their identity. They needed a charismatic leader to guide them from darkness to light. Bawa Budh Singh died in 1931.
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