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  • Sandip Sarkar

    Re-Reading the Folk Performance: Gambhira as Subaltern Narrative of Resistance

    Sandip Sarkar, MA in English, University of Gour Banga, Malda, West Bengal


    Folklore is often viewed as an indigenous counter-narrative to the mainstream epistemologies institutionalised by the power structure of the society. This paper attempts to shed some light on the South Asian folk culture of Malda, Gambhira to showcase how this kind of indigenous culture is trying to deconstruct the barriers of proscenium narratives disseminated by the mainstream theatre practices and how the these composition of lores of the common people are becoming a practice for subaltern resistance. These alternative narratives of struggle not only questioning the limits of the hegemonic culture but also registering their own consciousness through the practice of Gambhira. Rewriting the narratives outside the region-oriented national discourse, Gambhira mirrors a threat to colonial power and knowledge in the globalized world. Gambhira is a non-proscenium theatre of protest, a ‘weapon of the weak’ through which the subaltern groups’ struggle, suffering and misery are highlighted in the disguise of a ritualistic performance. According to South Asian Historiography, lower-class people are always oppressed by educated urban cultural elites but Gambhira has given a social space to the so-called ‘Other’ from where they can express their anger, problems, and thoughts against the powerful people. For the people from the silent and subaltern margin, Gambhira is an iconoclastic medium of protest that reconstructs the alternative narratives and forms a fresh way to look into history.