This form of entertainment is very popular in
the villages of Punjab. It is enjoyable in as much as it presents subtly
and sarcastically the seamy side of life. Those who specialized in this
art were generally Mirasis, Naqaals and Bhands.
A Naqaal troupe comprises, besides dancers and singers,
clowns and musicians. The leader of the troupe is generally called Ustad.
Legends and semi-historical tales like Dulla Bhatti, Sohni Mahiwal, Kima
Malki, Hodi and Koklan form the popular repertoire of the Naqaals.
Bhands generally present themselves in farcical
roles. They are quick-witted and it is well known that their mind is like
a razor's edge. Their profession is passed on from generation to generation.
They are experts at improvising jokes suited to an occasion. Sometimes
they mimic landlords who live in luxury but deprive their employees of
the barest amenities of life. A very popular tale of this type is about
a rich person who employed a servant on the only condition that he would
not converse except through singing and that for every slip that he made,
he would be fined. Once when the master's house was on fire the servant
came and danced and sang to his master as he gave him the information.
In the meantime, the house was completely gutted. The master reprimanded
the servant for being frivolous on such serious occasion. The servant
rightly reminded him of his service contract and said that he did not
want to risk his job. The master hit his own head in sheer desperation.
Bhands and mimics entertain people on weddings,
births and other festive occasion. Sometimes there is a streak of obscenity
and vulgarity in their presentation.