Art…?… as dictionary says, is a product of human creativity. But, what uses of these products remain unless fellow humans have their faith or strictures bestowed upon them. Art is anything but an austere activity in which one resigns himself from the rest of the world and pours his creativity over a piece of paper or out of some instrument. Art is a form of human evolution and hence subject to social assessment. For it derives its motivation from the society itself, be it social subjugation or failure or suppression, or even the elation of mind. But then what about art in prison? What about the creativity of the people circumscribed behind the bars.
Recently in Mumbai’s jails there held a fest for creativity flow, in assumption that art, or expression of any kind, is a cathartic booster (Outlook, 7th November). Avitoko – Akshar Visahwa Ka Tosh Avivam Kosh – is a four year old organization that conceived the congregation in pursuit of establishing a connection between people of each side of bars. The Kavi Sammelan, had many veterans like Akshay Jain and Yagya Sharma, and even more many prison poets. They recited their verses in Hindi and English both. Their themes ranged from suppression to reformation. Avitoko is planning to publish their work, an idea that ail authority have eagerly welcomed. Ramesh Owale, an inmate of Thane Jail where he is serving life sentence, won a special award at a national painting competition. Another from Warli jail teaches painting to fellow inmates and wants to take it to prisons elsewhere.
Life behind bars has not restrained the creativity. It’s a tool that would connect the people outcaste through social and political means to the mainstream. Avitoko is working in this direction but solely on a single shoulder – 45-year-old Vibha – Hindi and Maithili playwright. Let’s join hands on this side of the bar to help people on the other side and evolve a better tomorrow.
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