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Maithili theatrical treat for Delhiites

Jan 2, 2013, DHNS: 20:05 IST

Linguistic Twist

The plays were appreciated for their thoughtful scripts and able direction.

Five plays brought out the flavour of Mithila region - its language, art, culture.

In a unique linguistic and theatrical landmark, Delhi recently witnessed a festival of Maithili plays. Maithili Lok Rang – a theatre group - staged five plays in Maithili language written by famous playwright Mahendra Malangia. Each of them touched upon sensitive issues such as crime, globalisation, casteism and the perception towards women.

No doubt, all those who attended the fest at Shri Ram Centre, Mandi House, commended it for promoting a dying language as well as highlighting the often-ignored societal problems.

Maithili Lok Rang, a group of theatre-loving Maithili speaking Delhiites, has been holding such plays since 2005. After Maithili, a dialect spoken in Northern India and Southern Nepal, was declared an official Indian language, the group got recognised by the Ministry of Culture as a theatre troupe.

Its founder Prakash Jha informs Metrolife, “Maithili plays bear a unique flavour of the Mithila region - its problems, its language, culture, art and literature. However, of late, this dialect has been fading out because of urbanisation and young people losing interest in theatre. Therefore, ours is a small initiative towards conserving Maithili theatre since it is our cultural heritage.”

“Also,” he adds, “No one has portrayed Maithili language better than writer Mahendra Malangia. He has woven different subjects into his scripts as well as beautifully employed the language, because of which his plays have become a visual treat.”

The festival began with Gam nai sutaye, the story of a village in Mithila where a group of youth have taken to crime. The situation turns so bad that the parents of the youth start praying for their death. The anger eventually gives way to thought on why the young boys were taking to crime - lack of education, job opportunities and values etc., and the road to reforms is paved.

Then came Chhutha Ghail, a folklore from the region whereby a woman complains to a minister of mistreatment at her husband’s hand. The clever minister then tricks the village council into proving that the woman is his wife.

The abusive husband then goes on to collect evidence to prove his wife his own and in the process learns to value her.
Okra Angnak Barahmasa told the story of a village of Dalits who have to struggle for even one meal a day, some self-respect and dignity for their women. Juaeil Kankani dealt with infidelity in a family and lastly, Original kaam, directed by Prakash Jha, dealt with the effects of globalisation in rural areas.

The chief guest of the festival was none less than Nepal President Dr Ram Baran Yadav. The audience also appreciated the thoughtful scripts, the able direction and fine skills of the actors.

Director Prakash Jha remarked, “Frankly, we were not expecting such a huge response from Delhiites but we are very happy at the big turnout and the feedback we have received, especially from youngsters. It goes on to prove that a good script has its own appeal, irrespective of which language it is told in.”

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