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Culture in an urban bazaar

Rakesh Kumar |

The ongoing Bharat Rang Mahotsav 2017 at the National School of Drama (NSD) is attracting crowds mainly for the plays and other theatre activities being presented there. But visitors and theatre-lovers are being lured by something different ~ Theatre Bazaar. Spread over a good area, the colourful theatre bazaar has 51 different stalls lined up, catering to all the needs of theatre enthusiasts.

 One can find pure theatre articles such as costumes, make-up material, sound and light equipment, book stalls and accessories, sold by people from all over the country. Apart from this, the theatre bazaar is also turning out to be a shoppers’ paradise as stalls have been put up to sell paintings, pottery artefacts, artificial jewellery, saris, accessories, bags and bedsheets ~ just like mini Delhi Haat. And yes, not to forget the delicious food available there. “The prime purpose of giving space to the bazaar was to let the visitors get a glimpse of the theatre production as well as enjoy cross-cultural food,” informed Anoop Kumar Baroua, NSD’s information officer. 

Entering the gates of the iconic NSD, which has churned out stalwarts like Anupam Kher, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Irfan Khan, one is confronted with a colourful panorama. On one’s right, book stalls form a backdrop for an open air theatre, where different performing groups make presentations. Moving towards the left, after passing by artefacts, bags, artificial jewellery and paintings, one will end up at an array of food stalls.

The four books stalls belong to different publication houses, including Sahitya Akademi and Jnanpith Publications, and sell books at high discount. The stalls display the works of top Hindi writers and playwrights, such as Bhishm Shahni, Uttpal Dutt, Hari and Premchand. “Different theatre group come here from all over the country and they mostly buy books related to theatre and sometime short plays,” said an attendant at the Sahitya Akademi stall. Anita Bhist, an attendant at the Jnanpith Publication stall, informed, “The reason for people thronging these book stalls is the discount available. Moreover, one can find all these collections under a single roof.”

 A little walk to the other side of the lawns will take one to the main stalls. On one side are the food counters and on the other are various stalls, just like in Delhi Haat. One will first come across Ahrim Foundation’s outlet, which sells jute products, such as photo frames and decorative articles. “I am getting a good response, but not as expected,” said the lady running the store. “We also sell products made by differently-abled people.”

 Next to this is a huge stall for sound systems, including various kinds of speakers. But the centre of attraction is a counter dedicated to make-up artists. Photographs adorning the stalls speak much about the work of these important people. “The main artist doesn’t come here, but you can take his card,” said a person sharing the stall. “But he is the most famous make-up artist in the city. You can see from the pictures, he has done the make-up for celebrities like Shabana Azmi.” The man himself deals with artificial jewellery, and informed that he was there to sell his products but to make contacts and for visibility. “Here we make lots of contact with different theatre groups and at times we get orders in bulk,” he added.

 Just a few steps from there, one will end up at the stall of one Manoj Sharma, who claims to be an MBA graduate but is now into selling artists’ accessories and rare pictures of drama stalwarts. Then there are stalls selling colourful bags, satchels, clothes, jewellery, pottery items and designer clothes. Needless to say, these stalls attracted a lot of buyers. Shopaholics were delighted to pick up items cheaper than market rates. “This is an institutional space, not commercial,” informed Baroua. “Before giving nod to these vendors, we inform them strictly to give some subsidy so that students won’t have to shell out extra money. Moreover, it is not paid space but free of cost.”

 Once the bag is full, it is time to satiate the hunger pangs. And the bazaar has no dearth of tasty food. The warm aroma of kebab sizzling on skewers and display of sweet dishes can set the tongue drooling. For a light repast, one can try Litti Chokha, Chaat, Chicken Rolls, Kathi Rolls or Light Parantha. For the hungry visitors, Chicken Chengzibi and Biryani could be a good option.

A must-visit place for anyone, the cultural shows in the evening can make a visit fruitful.