‘Bahurupiyas’ sinking into oblivion

Dec 05, 2022 12:36 AM IST

Bahurupiya’ (mimickers who appear in various get-ups). say the age-old art form is dying for want of government support

PRAYAGRAJ: Strolling on the grounds of the North Central Zone Culture Centre (NCZCC), a visitor Anjali Verma is taken aback on being accosted by Krur Singh, a popular character of the hit TV serial Chandrakanta. The brief encounter is enough to make Anjali nostalgic, remembering her childhood days.

The Bahrupiyas at Rashtriya Shilp Mela at NCZCC in Prayagraj (HT photo)
The Bahrupiyas at Rashtriya Shilp Mela at NCZCC in Prayagraj (HT photo)

Characters like Charlie, Ginny, Joker etc of various other TV serials can also be spotted at the ongoing Rashtriya Shilp Mela-2022 on the grounds of NCZCC. They are ‘Bahurupiya’ (mimickers who appear in various get-ups). Sadly, the age-old art form of disguise is slowly sinking into oblivion now.

This year’s team of Bahurupiyas is led by Shamshad Khan, son of a national level artiste Shubarati Khan from Bandikul village of Dausa district of Rajasthan, who died in 2019.

The other members of the team include Babloo, Jitendra and Zakir.

Prior to the pandemic, the entire family of Shubarati Khan was a regular entertainer at the Rashtriya Shilp Mela. This family, which has performed in many national and international festivals, used to dress up and act like Hanuman, Ravan, Laxman, Narad Muni or Lord Krishna, attracting a huge crowd at NCZCC.

“The art is being pursued in our family from several generations as our ancestors were ‘Darbari Bahurupiya’ in Raja Man Singh’s court. But today things are different as the government does not provide the needed patronage, nor looks after our welfare because of which this art form is dying a slow death,” said Shamshad, one of the six brothers.

“We have to do our own makeup to save money and the dresses as well as props are also made by us as the remuneration we get is small and we need to save as much as we can. Due to these problems, we do not want ourkids to opt for this profession,” added Zakir. He said, “There is no help from the government. My father died of kidney failure and despite him being an international level artiste, he failed to get any monetary help from the government.”

Shamshad informed that now almost all ‘bahurupiyas’ had opened different shops of household products in their native places and somehow managed to earn their bread and butter.

“It is disheartening to see this age-old folk art dying but unless the government helps us, we don’t have any option but to switch over to other ways of earning a living,” said Shamshad.


    K Sandeep Kumar is a Special Correspondent of Hindustan Times heading the Allahabad Bureau. He has spent over 16 years reporting extensively in Uttar Pradesh, especially Allahabad and Lucknow. He covers politics, science and technology, higher education, medical and health and defence matters. He also writes on development issues.

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