Domni is a unique folk theatre form of Malda region in West Bengal. It presents social satire through which common people voice their grievances and aspirations. The drama portrays the joys and sorrows of the poor and common people. The lead characters include husbands, wives, mothers, greedy moneylenders, peasants and political leaders, among others. Domni is said to have evolved from a region called Diyara in northwestern Malda and was practised by migrants from Jharkhand.
This folk art form is presented in three acts. The first act is Bandana which starts with a tribute to gods and goddesses. The Mool Gayen (lead character or protagonist) and Chhokras (supporting characters) offer devotional prayers. Chhokras are men who dress up as and play the female characters. The dance performances of Chhokras are called Nachari or Lahari. The main body of the performance comes after this. Traditionally, the performance lasted up to 4 hours but now, keeping the audiences in mind, the duration has come down to around 90 minutes. The performance is accompanied by musical instruments like harmonium, trumpet, keyboard and percussions like dhol, khol, tabla and cymbals. The performing groups use scripts for the shows.
In this project 143 Domni artists from Malda have participated.