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The Theatre of Democracy

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

BY: ABHEESHEK DEV ROYE

“No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The underprivileged, the ones in need, the ostracised corners of our chest-thumping and proud society, are the ones who primarily populate the streets of our country. While they may seem like silent observers, who should and must hold to the shorter end of the rope that we, the privileged, have so benevolently handed over to them, their voice is the pertinent sound you hear in many of the erstwhile and on-going protests in our Democracy, oft-cited as world’s largest. And what is a democracy without the freedom to express as one wants? Is Freedom of Speech too much for our thin skins? Are conferences, public speeches, Gram-sabhas, Nukkad-naataks, addas and the collective dissemination of ideologies, facts, fiction and the rest, a good way to give voice to the oppressed?

The answer to the latter question is perhaps a yes or a no. But what should be agreed upon by us now, is the role of street theatre and performances in a democracy like ours and around the globe.

Street theatre is intrinsically entwined into our culture and ethos. More than five thousand years ago, “Nritya” was a form of theatre that existed in our country when Sanskrit theatre was at its zenith. The dances conveyed a story, a morale or an ideology. At the same time, indigenous values and stories were spread in the rural corners of the country to keep communicate the ancient myths and stories of our rich culture. This kind of theatre is still prevalent in our country in the 21st century. I once happened to learn a lot more about Ramayan from a street play in Guptkashi, Uttarakhand than I could from reading my school books. These nukkad plays, or are a source of cultural enrichment and entertainment in the hinterlands of our primarily agrarian country. Not much unlike the Bhil tribes in the Aravalli hills of Udaipur district in Rajasthan, who put on a vigorous and colourful show during the months of July and August, celebrating Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in a festival known as Gavari.

Evening_Gavari_performance_at_Udaipur's_Gangaur_Ghat

Picture: An evening Gavari Performance in Udaipur

Source: W. David Kubiak, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Street theatre found its social and political clout in our country during the struggle against our Western colonisers. As the enlightened and educated citizens of pre-independent India grew more aware the barbaric and fascist British regime, they saw no clear opportunity to mobilise the nation through its innumerable newspapers and media outlets. The problem was (and ironically still is) the utter lack of education and literacy, further turned grim by the diversity in languages and cultures. Street plays offered direct participation, real-time reaction, and dialogue with the people. It seeded ideas into people’s heads, with simple plays of relatable struggles, pertinent issues of the society and effectively managed to communicate the need for action. Street theatre emerged as a potent medium to express and catalyse social transformation through participatory methods.

The women of the Garhwal tribe in their stance during the Chipko Andolan of 1973

Picture: The women of the Garhwal tribe in their stance during the Chipko Andolan of 1973

Source: Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Street Theatre on Domestic Violence, Chandigarh, India

   Picture: Street Theatre on Domestic Violence, Chandigarh, India

Source: Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Since then, Street plays in the rural areas of India are widely used by NGO’s and even Government Organizations to spread awareness about developmental programs, schemes, preventable ailments, Women’s health, Malnutrition and several other pertinent issues. Socio-political issues, which might sometimes alienate the common man in terms of jargon and understanding, are best displayed with flair, creativity and most importantly, engagement via impact, through street theatre. As Ryan Powers, an artist in Pandies Theatre opines, “it is inherent in any theatrical performance that you would want to identify with what is going on. That is where I think it is more powerful than a speech”

In any part of the world, an uprising against the mighty ills of the society or even against the ones in autocratic power, needs the mobilization of people, their collective empathy and conscience. While speeches can only tremble our inner compass, street theatre is what creates fodder for the mind and the hearts of the common man.

Playlist of the Week – All About India

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Republic Day is here, and even we can’t help but feel a little extra patriotic. As we reflect on what being an Indian means to us, why not take a trip down memory and relive some of the most beautiful musical tributes that have been made for our homeland over the years.

 

1. Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

Every single one of us has a memory of this song in our childhood, and what a memory it is.

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

 

2. Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo

The one song that is guaranteed to send shivers down everyone’s spine, and not leave a dry eye in the crowd. Sung to perfection by inimitable Lata Mangeshkar.

Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo

 

3. Vande Mataram

A list of songs about India would definitely be incomplete without the National Song of India – Vande Mataram.

Vande Mataram

 

4. Jana Gana Mana

Possibly one of the most loved renditions of our national anthem, this particular version features some of the most loved and respected singers and musicians from across India, and will definitely leave you marveling at the beauty that Indian arts provides.

Jana Gana Mana

 

Jai Hind!

DIY of the Week – Indian Flag Paper Chain

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Republic Day is here, and we’ve got the perfect little projects for the young ones in the house to keep busy and create some decorations for the occasion. And the best part is that they’re super easy to do, and require very little supervision.

 

What You Need:

1. Construction paper sheets (in orange, white, and green, to match the colors of the flag)

2. Scissors

3. Blue marker

4. Glue stick or stapler

 

What To Do:

Step 1

Cut the papers in horizontal lengths (giving you strips of about two inches thickness) for each color.

Image Source - Putti's World

Image Source – Putti’s World

 

Step 2

At the center of each white strip, draw a circle with the blue marker, and then create lines going across diagonally within the circle, in the design of the Ashok Chakra.

Image Source - Putti's World

Image Source – Putti’s World

 

Step 3

Taking an orange strip, bring both ends together to create a loop with the strip and glue  or staple the ends together. Then, taking a white strip, pull it through the orange loop, and create and seal the white loop so that they are intertwined. Now take a green strip, and pulling it through the white loop, create and close the loop. Keep doing this (in the correct color sequence to mimic the flag) until you have the desired length of chain to hang up.

 

Happy Crafting and Happy Republic Day!

Food Binge vs Netflix Binge

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Are you a foodie? Do you love exploring about new cultures and the foods that are associated with them? Do you love to travel too? Wouldn’t it be great to indulge in all those interests while curled up on your couch at home? In the age of bingeing, we bring you a list of Netflix shows that can whet your appetite for all things travel and food related, and ensure that you learn something new about all those things you love.

(Disclaimer – Watching these shows will probably make your mouth water, will probably create a travel itch, and will definitely leave you feeling hungry. Kindly proceed with full knowledge and acceptance of said side-effects.)

 

1. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Food, check! Travel, check! Celebrities, check! David Chang, check! What more could you possibly need? Head through various countries as David brings along famous friends and checks out some phenomenally great food. P.S. You don’t need a visa, we promise.

Image Source - New on Netflix

Image Source – New on Netflix

 

2. Street Food

Where do you find the best food? On the streets of course! This show brings to the front the true heroes for our taste buds, the people who struggle by getting up earlier than the sun, those who stand in the heat of the afternoon, and work long into the night, just so we can grab a quick bite that’s tasty, cheap, and fills our stomachs and hearts. Sail across Asia and meet the best of the best from India, Thailand, South Korea, and so many more.

Image Source - whatsnewonnetflix.com

Image Source – whatsnewonnetflix.com

 

3. Chef’s Table

With six whole seasons, this Emmy-nominated series is definitely binge-worthy. Featuring top chefs from across the globe, delve in to hear about their stories, their vision, their food. As you travel from Germany, to Russia, to South Korea, to Mexico, be prepared to be hit by a whirlwind of gorgeous looking food that will leave you breathless. Bonus, one season is only about pastry. Get your dessert game on!

Image Source - thewrap.com

Image Source – thewrap.com

 

4. Ugly Delicious

An interesting docu-series featuring favourite chef David Chang (again), this one is a must-watch for every single person who loves fusion food. David meets chefs bringing together cultures and flavor profiles in the most fearless ways possible. Whether its Arab tacos, or Japanese pizza, be prepared to have your preconceptions of what does and doesn’t go together completely shattered. Spoiler Alert – Season 2 is on its way!

Image Source - Facebook

Image Source – Facebook

 

5. Festive Foods

Take a trip across Asia with this show, with each episode featuring various festivals across the continent, and of course the scrumptious food it all brings forth. Whether it’s Diwali, or the Moon Festival, or Winter Solstice celebrations, prepare to drool.

Image Source - Netflix

Image Source – Netflix

 

Happy Drooling!

Top Indian Content Online (Part 2)

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

We’re back with another set of 3 must watch series/movies from Indian creators for Indian viewers available on different online streaming platforms. If your favorite isn’t on the list yet, let us know. And if you missed Part 1, click here.

 

Sacred Games

While it certainly isn’t the first short series to come out of India for online streaming, it has certainly made even the naysayers sit up and take notice. From a taunt storyline, to excellent an excellent star cast, it has come to note for additional reasons such as the role portrayals by secondary characters, and Mumbai herself has truly shone. The cult following the show has garnered is no joke either.

Available on Netflix

Image source - Images Dawn

Image source – Images Dawn

 

Inside Edge

With powerpacked performances by Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Angad Bedi and Sanjay Suri, this original series about cricket and all that goes on behind the scenes in premier league type settings is a sure fire must watch.

Available on Amazon Prime

Image source - Wikipedia

Image source – Wikipedia

 

Sometimes

Seven strangers anxiously waiting for their HIV test results decide to bribe the clinic receptionist to get them early, learning one is positive. You can expect some great acting, considering that Prakash Raj is one of the seven.

Available on Netflix

Image source - Netflix

Image source – Netflix

 

Happy couch surfing!

Simple Ways to Show Your Patriotism

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

India celebrates her Independence Day every year on 15th August, and as such, every single person, for one day, becomes patriotic. They sing songs about the country, watch movies about the spirit of India, wear traditional clothing, and celebrate as a community, all while saluting the flag. And that’s wonderful. But what happens on the 16th? Nothing. Everyone goes back to their regular lives, and probably won’t think about all this right upto the 26th of January. Till then, our ‘patriotism’ goes on hold.

But what if we told you that you could be more patriotic, show love and respect towards your country, all in your everyday life? And traditional wear and flags have nothing to do with it. It’s about you and your civic sense towards not just your country, but also towards your fellow citizens, and even yourself.

So here are five ways you can serve your country, and make her a better place:

 

1.  Obey the laws of the land

Yup. All of them. That means that you should follow traffic rules like wearing your seatbelt or helmet, wait till the signal turns green before you cross, have a valid license, all of it. It also means that you should pay your taxes (on time), file for the necessary licences for your tasks/business, and drink alcohol responsibly.

 

Image source - Steemit

Image source – Steemit

2. Vote

This is probably one of the most important tools given to any citizen as one turns an adult – the power to vote. You have the power to decide where the future of the country is heading, and it is a responsibility that you need to both acknowledge as well as fulfill. Make sure you register for voting, and when the time comes around, go out and cast that vote, whichever way you feel is right.

 

Image source - Yoko Miwa

Image source – Yoko Miwa

3. Be open to all religions and communities

One of the first things you must’ve learnt in your civics class is that one of India’s biggest strengths is it’s Unity in Diversity. With a culture that is a culmination of various states, traditions, religions, languages, dialects, and backgrounds, all coming together. Isn’t that what makes India so wonderful and colorful? It’s high time we started celebrating our differences instead of fighting over them.

 

Image source - Fireball Securitas

Image source – Fireball Securitas

4. Invest in social work and charities

By invest, we don’t necessarily mean money. You can easily invest your time and energy into social work too. But whatever you do, never lose sight of the fact that if you are doing well in life, there’s also someone out there who isn’t. And if India is to succeed as a country, all it’s people need to succeed too. You can donate to charities, or volunteer with NGOs. From old age homes, where you can give company and some much needed stimulating conversation, to animal shelters caring for the forgotten ones, there are endless options. And if you are pressed for time, and cannot do something of the kind on a regular basis, you can assist in occasional projects that come up now and again. A regular requirement at exam time is for writers for blind and handicapped students. The options are many, you just need to figure out what will give you the most happiness.

Image source - Google Sites

Image source – Google Sites

5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

This one is not only easy to do, it’s a change you bring about in your every day life that will bring a genuine difference to not only the country you belong to, but also to the environment as a whole. Reduce the amount of waste you produce, and try to use as many eco-friendly, responsibly sourced, sustainable products. Reuse the products you do own. If it’s not possible to reuse them in the same way they were meant to be used, find a way to repurpose them. Old clothes can be turned into everything from cleaning rags to bags, depending on your level of creativity. Milkshake bottles make not only great, non-plastic, water bottles, they can even be used as vases. And finally, recycle. Whether it is old newspapers and magazines, shampoo bottles, or even rubber tyres, it can all be recycled.

Image source - Zazzle.ch

Image source – Zazzle.ch

All of these points might seem too minor to make a difference, but the truth is that each and every one of us makes up this country. We, as a whole, define and shape what India is. So how each of us conducts ourselves really does make a difference to the whole. After all, each drop of water is responsible for making up the ocean as a whole. Let’s make our country great by first being great citizens ourselves. Happy Independence Day!

India Quiz

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

We all love our country, but how much do we really know about India? While it’s true that we learned the basics in school, such as the names of states and their capitals, water bodies, a little bit of history, most of us hardly went beyond our school syllabus to do any discovering all on our own. And as we grew older, we all eventually got caught up in the same old story – higher education, jobs, marriage, family, retirement. And if you ever ask anyone about their ideal vacation spot, chances are, most people will name a foreign location. But why? India is diverse, beautiful, and most of all, waiting for you to discover her. So let’s see how much you know about her, with a quiz about facts about India.

As always, the answers are at the end, but you won’t peek and cheat, will you? No, we know you won’t. Ready, steady, go!

 

Q.1 The highest cricket ground (7500 ft above sea level) in the world is in India. Can you name it and where it is?

Image source - TourMyIndia

Image source – TourMyIndia

 

Q.2 Who wrote the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana?

Image source - Goodreads

Image source – Goodreads

 

Q.3 With an altitude of 8,586 meters, which is the highest mountain peak of India?

Image source - Himalayan Exploration

Image source – Himalayan Exploration

 

Q.4 Five international championships of this game have been held, and India has won all of them. Which sport are we referring to?

Image source - South Street Community

Image source – South Street Community

 

Q. 5 Switzerland celebrates May 26th as Science Day, to commemorate a visit by which Indian President?

Image source - Dreamstime

Image source – Dreamstime

 

Q. 6 India has a floating postal office. Where is it?

Image source - inmarathi

Image source – inmarathi

 

Q.7 Zero was invented by which famous Indian mathematician?

Image source - Quora

Image source – Quora

 

Q.8 Farrokh Bulsara was born in India, but went on to change his name and become the lead singer for an International band. What name did he take?

Image source - Starts at 60

Image source – Starts at 60

 

Q.9 The world’s hottest chilli is from India. Can you name it?

Image source - pepperseeds.eu

Image source – pepperseeds.eu

 

Q.10 What is the national bird of India?

Image source - Indiamart

Image source – Indiamart

 

 

 

download (1)

Answers.

1. Chail Cricket Ground in Chail, Himachal Pradesh

2. Rabindranath Tagore

3. Kanchenjunga

4. Kabbadi

5. Dr. ABJ Abdul Kalam

6. Dal Lake, Srinagar

7. Aryabhatta

8. Freddie Mercury

9. Bhut Jolokia

10. Peacock

 

So, how many did you get right? And if you weren’t able to answer at least half of these correctly maybe it’s time to read up a bit about our country. Trust us, India is absolutely fascinating. Try to get to know her a little, we promise she won’t disappoint.

Unique Museums in India You Must Visit

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Many shy away from museums because they really aren’t the most ‘happening’ place to be at, especially if you’re the talkative extrovert whose idea of fun is painting the town red. But, don’t strike these antique-worshiping places of your list yet, for there are a few museums that are poles apart from the rest. They offer nothing in the form of natural history exhibits or yesteryear fashion trends, but keep on display items of a more bizarre nature. Here are a few unique Indian museums you must visit, even if you generally avoid these spaces.

Sulabh International Toilet Museum, New Delhi

The man responsible for the construction of this museum is Mr. Bindheshwar Pathak, an expert on sanitation and we’re sure, a person with an expert sense of humour too. The museum is the only one of its kind on the Indian sub-continent and displays a wide range of toilets, tracing the evolution of toilets around the world. The aim is to inform visitors about the importance of sanitation and cheap sanitary measures that can be easily accessed.

amusing planet

Image courtesy: Amusing Planet

Mayong Central Museum and Emporium, Assam

If you’ve always been intrigued by the ‘Dark Arts,’ under no circumstances must you not visit this museum. The Mayong museum is located in the hilly hamlet of Mayong, in the Marigaon district of Assam. This village is known to be the black magic capital of India and this museum pays tribute to the regions colourful past by displaying witchcraft manuscripts, books on black magic, skulls and paraphernalia used in rituals. You can also sit through a show that demonstrates how certain healing spells were cast.

national geography

Image courtesy: National Geography

Antarang Sex Health Information Art Gallery, Mumbai

Sex is a hush-hush topic in our society, and so we were quite surprised to know that a museum like this exists in our city. This museum hopes to educate people about the human body, sexuality and HIV-AIDS. It is the only museum of its kind in South Asia. The museum is located in the Red Light Area of our city, ‘Kamatipura.’

getty images

Image courtesy: Getty images

Human Brain Museum, Bengaluru

This museum is the ‘brain child’ of Doctor S.K. Shankar and aims to help visitors discover more about the most powerful and mysterious organ in the human body. The museum has over 300 brain samples on display and presents information on every aspect of the human brain, be it the anatomy, neurology, physiology or psychology. Also, you can take a pledge to donate your brain here.

asia obscura

Image courtesy: Asia Obscura

Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, New Delhi

The museum is named after the political cartoonist who founded it – K. Shankar Pillai and holds the largest collection of costumed dolls in the world. The museum has on display dolls from over 85 countries as well as dolls given as gifts by several Indian presidents, including Jawaharlal Nehru!

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