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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Naatuk India Company presents --- Hum Kahan Ja Rahe Hain?

14th January 2011, Merkhedi village, near Sendhawa, Madhya Pradesh.
Finally the day arrived for which we had been practicing and waiting for a month. The tent was huge and there were about 20,000 people. The children 10 – 18 years, all actors of the Naatak India Company (aka the students and teachers of Adharshila Learning Centre), were very excited, seeing the crowd. Nervous ? no sign of it. They had been specially called to perform their famous play Hum Kaha Ja Rahe Hain? (Where are we going?), by the organizers of the Adivasi Ekta Parishad’s Mahasammelan, the annual convention.

The play is old, though with every year comes new issues to tie in, new actors and actresses, and new audiences. What is this play all about? Why have we been showing it year after year?

As you can tell from the title, the play is about where Adivasi society is going- where it is going amidst a backdrop of proselytizing religious groups and political parties, land-hungry private companies, and an identity-conflicted youth generation. For example, Krishna Pawar’s original family name is Pawarkia, Gyarshilal Arya’s is Awayya, Vijay Solankie’s is Suwiya, and Babita Senani’s is Sustiya. These youth are all prime examples of the desire to shed one’s Adivasi identity and replace it with something else, something else more suited to what one hears in cities.

The shinyness of the market strongly influences youth with its hero-fashion images of how to look, what to wear and buy, and especially how to think. We show in our play how the outside inflences have created fights within families- between brothers, sisters, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, young and old. And the nature of these fights, a problem born in this generation, have become so so extreme that they rip at the very fabric that ties Adivasi families together.

So what does a young person do after these fights? What does one do after becoming disillusioned by the outside? Where does she/he go? As said earlier, political parties, religious groups, and private companies, are always ready to take in fresh people, especially those with land capital. What will the new generation do? At first glance, it seems that the choice is between modernism and tradition, new times and old times, but maybe there is more to it. Maybe theres is more to growing up in a society historically and highly connected to the natural environment yet currently entangled in the mainstream.

Hum Kahe Ja Rahe Hain? is a witty satire, a colorful expression, and a problem poser of these issues.

The great thing about the play is that most of the sets, props, dresses etc. are also made by the children with the help of elders. This year two senior students also developed background audio effects for the play.

The one and a half hour play was a hit. It kept the audience wide awake from 12 midnight to 1.30 AM. The school received donations, firewood and leftover rations worth almost Rs. 25,000.00.
We also had a book stall, where children sold books, posters and calenders on adivasi heroes.

The team got an invitation to perform in Shahada, Maharashtra. There also the play was very well received. The audience was shouting and laughing at every dialogue. People gave about Rs. 8000.00 in donation instantly.

Seeing the success of these plays once again our very old plan of having a jeep and roaming all around in the adivasi area, showing the play. Of course the fuel will be paid for by the hosts. But the jeep we have to manage. Any suggestions ?

PS – We are hoping to make a film of this in the near future. Be on the look out!! And any body wants to volunteer to get involved write to us fast.

We are all very pepped up. And what’s this … the day the theatre group had gone to Shahada to perform, the small kids left out of the play decided to have there own action. You won’t believe this but suddenly everybody is making a hut for themselves….

……. Wait for the next post on this extremely unique activity.