SD Sharma


Chandigarh, September 28


Hundreds of litterateurs, farmers, social and political activists paid tributes to Bhisham Pitamah of Punjabi theatre Gursharan Singh at the Sector 25 electric crematorium here today.


The doyen of Punjabi theatre died late last night. Tributes were paid by admirers amid slogans. “An institution in himself, Bhaji (Gursharan Singh) will continue to live in our hearts and inspire us to fight injustice,” said a member of his theatre group, fighting tears. Wreaths were placed by Daljit Singh Cheema, adviser to the Punjab CM, DS Saroya, Director NZCC, Harjinder Kaur, chairperson, Punjab Arts Council, Kewal Dhaliwal, Jatinder Kaur, Hardeep Gill (Amritsar), Deshbhagat Yadgaar Committee (Jalandhar), Lalit Kala Akademi chief Dewan Manna, Neelam Man Singh, Dolly Tewari, Kamal Tewari, GS Channi, Rani Balbir, Dr Sahib Singh, Pran Sabharwal, Dr Prem Singh, Joginder Dayal of the CPI, Rajpal Singh and Gurbhajan Gill. Hailed as “Yugpurush” Gursharan Singh became the voice of the oppressed masses. Born on September 16, 1929, at Multan (now in Pakistan), he completed his Masters in technical chemistry from Khalsa College, Amritsar. He worked as a Project Research Officer at the Bhakra dam and later shifted to the Irrigation Department. But theatre remained his first love and he opted for voluntary retirement.


He inspired the younger generation to use theatre as a tool for social change. His disciples include National school of Drama alumnus Kewal Dhaliwal, Dr Sahib Singh, Anita Shabdeesh and Iqatar Singh. Gursharan Singh leaves behind his wife Kailash Kaur, daughters Dr Navsharan Kaur and Dr Areet Kaur and grand-daughter Nadiya. A sammelan in memory of the deceased will be held at the grounds opposite the Sector 34 gurdwara on October 2, said family sources.


Amritsar: A pall of gloom descended on theatre artistes and residents of Ranjit Pura, where once Gursharan Singh lived, as news of his demise came in. A recipient of the Sangeet Natak Award (1993), Gursharan Singh took drama to the ordinary people with his innumerable street plays.


Popular TV artiste Jatinder Kaur described him as a crusader against social evils. She said she joined theatre in 1964 and “Bhaji stood like a rock behind me”. Punjabi playwright Jatinder Brar, who runs Punjab Naatshala, said he became a member of Gursharan Singh’s Amritsar Kala Manch in the late sixties.


Jagdish Sachdeva, who has been associated with theatre for the past three decades, said: “Bhaji encouraged me to write plays with a social message.” Gursharan Singh had to leave his family home here and move to Chandigarh during the peak of militancy. He kept his bond with the city, turning a portion of his house into Guru Khalsa Library.

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