Padmashri BansiKaul popularly known as Bansi Dada passed away on 6 February(last Saturday). The news of his sad demise has shaken the theatre world.
A bright student of National School of Drama, Bansi Dada was also a high calibre painter and designer. He was trained under stalwart Ebrahim Alkazi and was also associated with great theatre director like B.V. Karantha. Working for repertories and institutions in Delhi, he formed an institution called “Rang Vidushak” in Bhopal and produced high quality plays for Indian Theatre. He directed many plays including AndhaYug, Oedipus, Antigone, Ala Afsar, Rang BirangeJoote, TukkepeTukka and Saudagar. Plays directed by him travelled throughout India and abroad. More than 1500 theatre artistes have learnt from him. The number of Folk and Tribal artistes would go in several hundreds.
He has been Creative Director for many events involving classical, theatrical, folk and tribal performances in National and International Festivals. He was conferred prestigious awards including Sangeet Natak Akademy Award, “Rashtreeya Kalidas Samman” and Padmashri for his exceptional contribution to Theatre.
As a dedicated scholar he did extensive research work in folk and tribal culture. His deep knowledge was reflected in all his creative endeavours.
He was the first artistic director who introduced folk and tribal performing art forms fusion as spectacle from various parts of India on National platforms. Be it Maati ke Rang, Commonwealth Games, South Asian Games, Opening ceremony of Bricks, Lusofonia, Festivals of India in France, Russia and other countries. Many folk, nomadic and tribal groups were given the chance to perform in International events by this way. His involvement in any project ensured top quality presentation.
As a Creative Director, Bansi Dada brought Mini India on stage. His stage design and presentations always looked like moving paintings and were an audio visual treat to audience. He moved entire country in very limited space on stage. Folk and Tribal artistes from various States of India would showcase their regional attire, colour, fragrance and eternal energy exhibiting unity in diversity. His pivotal role in bringing varied art forms of India on one stage would always be a classic example of national integration through Culture. His contribution in enhancing image of Folk and Tribal art forms would be remembered always.
He was very friendly with elders as well as children. He had tremendous quality of understanding people. He would read spoken and unspoken words. He was a true Guru for most of the Theatre persons and people involved in cultural activities. Any person who came in his contact would be mesmerized with his divine and fatherly nature. Many skilled artistes and technicians would strive to assist him in his projects. Whosoever worked under his guidance learnt more than what could be learnt in Universities. Bansi Dada’s scolding of sweet and sarcastic phrases worked as a boon to the assistants. He always valued and appreciated the smallest contribution of others.
I got opportunities to learn from this divine personality during my tenure with West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur. Bansi Dada has been Creative Director of many National events of WZCC and Ministry of Culture. He always encouraged me and my colleagues Dr. Laique Hussain, Taneraj Singh Sodha and others. He believed in strategic planning, perfect design, innovative movements and a high-quality presentation. He created a school of thought for persons involved in cultural activities. I think newcomers may do research on Bansi Dada’s style of working whose documentation could be of use to the scholarly.
During “Shraddhanjali Sabha” at his residence many of his family members, friends, associates, folk artistes and members of Rang Vidushak paid tributes. Inder Chaku, Kalpesh Dalal, Susheel Kumar, Dr. Utpala Desai, Susheel Sharma,Dr. SohanKaul, Ashish Kaul,BholaKaleri,Sanjay Sharma,Ankur Pathan, DevendraShelar,Surender Singh and many others shared their views on their association with Bansi Dada.
Theatre lovers of entire world have organized Condolence meetings and sent messages to his family. Local Theatre group of Udaipur Natyansh staged Play “Saut” based on story of Munshi Prem Chand and directed by Amit Shrimali to pay tribute to Bansi Dada. His wife and renowned artist Anjana Puri told that Bansi ji always believed in “Ullas (happiness)”. He would cheer up everybody associated with him be that an artist or technical hand. We all who are associated with him should strive to take Bansi Ji’s mission ahead. Padmashri awardee Bansi Kaul was a theatre director of high calibre but he himself lived in many characters like Guru, God Father, friend, philosopher and a great human being having unconditional love for all. His friends, disciples and followers would certainly make his dreams come true and enhance the cultural scenario of India. Our sincere Tribute to the celestial crusader of Culture.