Age is definitely a state of mind for Ramagya Ram. The 105-year-old man from Bihar’s Bhojpur district has been keeping the tradition of rural theatre alive by performing the plays of Bhojpuri playwright Bhikhari Thakur in the state.
“I love to perform whatever I learnt from Bhikari Thakur. I want the young generation to understand the importance of his socially relevant plays,” said Ram, who looks rather youthful whenever he takes to the stage.
Ram was an unusual star attraction at the recently concluded Patna Literature Festival where he rubbed his shoulders with the likes of lyricist-writer Gulzar and Vikram Seth.
Ram, who is considered to be the oldest theatre artiste in the country, had joined Thakur’s Naach Party (dance party) in the pre-Independence era.
After Thakur – often called the ‘Shakespeare of Bhojpuri’ for his popular thought-provoking plays such as Bidesia – died in 1971, Ram fell on bad times because of financial constraints but a crusader of Bhojpuri language brought him back into limelight a few years ago.
Ram’s disciples, however, rue the fact that the successive state governments had done precious little to extend any help to him.