Behrupiyas: Live entertainers at Kalagram but struggling for livelihood


Folk art, festivals, traditions, artistes, craftsmen—are all a forgettable lot in the 21 st century. With people addicted to social media, who cares for the original piece of works whether it is handicrafts or live artistes. At the Craft mela in Kalagram, there was a chance to feel the spirit of live performances amidst the milling crowd itself. Behrupiyas, artistes who don different roles or modern characters like Lord Shiva, Lord Rama, Hanuman, etc to give people some fun-filled moments.

You may be taken for a ride by man in ‘Khaki’, who may even grill you for a while, reason or no reason. You may come across a person posing as a faith healer or charismatic conman, who may press you hard to follow him without any rhyme or reason, resorting to all kinds of tricks of the trade.

You tend to lose your cool or composure dealing with such a squeaky character you come across. But, never get scared of them. They are the people who give a reason to rejoice amid mundane stresses and strains. They may give you some troublesome moments, but leave you entertained with their unique art of impersonation. They are known Behrupiyas, who are born to entertain the world around them, assuming all kinds of characters under the sky.

behrupiyas at kalagram

They are basically entertainers, like our tik-tok stars of today. Earlier a widely appreciated art form, it is now on the verge of extinction, with performers forced to live a life of penury. They are hired to perform at social gatherings and weddings. Their role is to bring in an element of surprise initially and some light moments once their identity is revealed. They make a dramatic entry at the designated venue or other festivities dressed as a policeman, priest, or other prominent figures and create a situation disrupting the ongoing ceremony.

Behurupias are so perfect in their art that people tend to take them seriously. They play their part as an artiste to entertain others without causing any harm to anyone or accepting anything in cash and kind. Their idea is to create a farcical situation simply to entertain.

However, if a behrupiya succeeds in convincing the audience of his fake identity, a ‘baksheesh’ makes its way through.


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