The artists of Jogappas and Lavani join forces in their fight against patriarchy and discrimination.
Amid heavy rains and a last-minute change of venue, Chinmini Cross Superstars deployed in Bangalore last Sunday to a full house. From a Jogati Nritya to an act of Lavani, this unique concert had folk artists from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra who performed under one roof. But where is Chinmini Cross? It is an imaginary space of beauty, desire and resistance in response to the sociopolitical climate in which we live, read the description of the event. The concert is a celebration of various forms of artistic expressions, such as sound, rap, comedy and movement. An initiative of the city-based collective, Maraa, the concert saw artists from different practices and contexts join in their collective struggle against patriarchy, caste and discrimination. “Together, these folk artists are inspiring people to look beyond the current environment of the country, and not be undermined or overwhelmed by the socio-political environment. It is an artistic expression to tell people to find beauty in horror and not succumb to fear and anxiety, says Ekta Mittal, co-founder of Maraa.
Lavani artists and transgender rights activists Akshata and Imtiaz, who had come from Sangli in Maharashtra, affirm and celebrate their multiple identities on stage. “We want to keep Lavani alive, even though his importance slowly fades, often due to the taboo associated with him. Lavani not only deals with eroticism and desire, but also conveys beauty and resistance. We want people to understand the nuances of this popular tradition of singing and dancing, ”says Imtiaz.
A renowned Jogati Nritya practitioner, Manjamma Jogati, who was recently appointed president of the Karnataka Janapada Academy, also performed at the concert with her company. “Despite being practitioners of a rich form of folk art, the Jogappas remain a less known community. We perform at certain festivals, but we have been far from the exhibition and the center of attention that artists receive when they take the stage at events like Ganesha Utsav , where the tread is much more than in intimate shows, says Manjamma, who is also the first passer-by to run a government academy in the state. The 62-year-old man also strives to make popular art part of the curriculum. “We should look beyond the general studies on drama and dance forms. If we want to keep the future generation informed, detailed studies on popular art should be part of textbooks, and these lessons should be taught by people who have experience in these artistic forms, ”says Manjamma.