Ranjha Revisited, an
Abhyas Ensemble production, is
a collaboration between Navtej Singh Johar and Sufi singer
and composer Madan Gopal Singh. A dance-theater piece, it
seamlessly fuses two archetypical narratives from North and
South India: the predominant Sufi love legend from the Punjab, Heer Ranjha interspersed with Kutrala Kuravanji,
a genre of dance-drama from Tamil Nadu in which a gypsy foretells
the heroine, Vasantvalli, of her destined union with lord
Siva. Operatic in nature, Fana'a freely intermixes
and juxtaposes the two texts without a fixed flow of narrative,
fixed characters or characterizations. Hence, Ranjha becomes
Siva, becomes Vasantvalli, becomes Heer, becomes the gypsy,
the sakhi, the mendicant, and so on; each identity
willingly immersing itself in the other, surrendering its
skin to discover another, constantly reinventing
and recreating themselves.
Drawing on plural vocabularies—Bharatanatyam, yoga, Chhau, modern
dance and physical theater, the choreographic treatment remains
The work—physical/sensual/spiritual—centers on Ranjha: a harbinger
of continuity, who is continuously changing through his response
to the land, the sound and the sensuous core of life. Fascinated
by his own impermanence, Ranjha thus becomes the bard of a million
masquerades, crossing cultural, spiritual, and existential spaces
with ease, acquiring both impermanence and omnipresence.
Gopal Singh is India's leading Sufi lyricist, composer, singer and scholar.
A treasure-house of Sufi poetry, he is best known for his rendition
of Punjabi Sufi texts and love legends and has translated a
wide range of Sufi lyrics into Punjabi, Hindustani and English.
He has toured extensively and has had the distinction of singing
with the well-known Kurdish singer Shahram Nazeri;
and has performed with Theo Bleckmann, percussionist David Cossin
and double-bass player Gregg August amongst others. He teaches English
literature, writes extensively on cinema and lectures on issues
pertaining to cultural theory.