WORK by IKKATAR SINGH
Ikkatar Singh is a theatre activist and performer from Muktsar, Punjab. Growing up in a village, Ikkatar had aspirations to become an actor from a young age. Coming from a marginal community and without financial resources or backing, he eventually went to Mohali to try to study acting formally. However, the institute where he enrolled proved to be of dubious standing and quality as they were not delivering any training to students. Ikkatar and other enrolled students protested and successfully managed to get the school shut down. Afterwards, without a job or other means of support, Ikkatar approached Gursharan Singh, the renowned progressive theatre director. Gursharan Singh. He visited him several times in Chandigarh with the hope of becoming a part of Gursharan’s theatre group. After several auditions, Gursharan eventually accepted Ikkatar into the group and taught him about all of the various aspects of drama - not only acting, but also reading scripts, producing performances, and managing a theatre group. Ikkatar continued to gain the knowledge and training under Gursharan’s tutelage until Gursharan fell ill, when Ikkatar helped to look after him until he passed away in 2011.
The struggles of Ikkatar to become an actor being from a rural, non-dominant caste background can be seen in his journey. Progressive theatre gave him an opportunity to act which otherwise would not have been open to him. Ikkatar has since continued to perform all across Punjab. Throughout the farmers’ protests against proposed government legislations that would have threatened agricultural livelihoods in 2020-21, he and the theatre group performed at the stages of the protest in Delhi as well as in villages across Punjab.
Left, from ‘Saade Aale’ (film), Right, film ‘Sirsa’ (film)
Photo credit: Ikkatar Singh
Ikkatar has acted in over two hundred films so far. In carrying on the work of pro-people progressive theatre that Bhaji had established, he intends to continue to be in drama for the rest of his life.
Watch this podcast of Ikkatar Singh where he talks about his journey as an actor and his experiences of learning from and working with ‘Bhaji’ Gursharan Singh.