Autistic kids to bring ‘Jungle Book’ to life

Autistic kids to bring ‘Jungle Book’ to life

Jungle Book play performed by children with autism.

Most often frightened of loud sounds and bright lights, children with Autism are now braving the discomfort to portray Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo and Shere Khan.  

The legendary characters from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book will come alive once again on stage performed by about 50 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The players are in the age group of 5 to 32, from the Bubbles Centre for Autism and Pragati towards Livelihood.

Nine-year-old Alina -- who plays the lead character, Mowgli -- is more than happy with the attention she is drawing. She is thorough with her lines.

Alina whispered a line exclusively for DH. “Bhageera, where are you going? Come here!”

Alina, besides being an autistic child, is also suffering from Down Syndrome.

17-year-old Prajwal is playing Bhageera and 8-year-old Mikhael is playing Baloo. The duo, too, are well versed with their lines.

Suja, mother of Arosh, who is playing one of the elephants says teaching autistic children to enact a play is indeed a challenging job. Not just for the director and those involved in teaching them, but for the children as well.

“Children with autism have neuro-biological deficit and it is difficult for them to communicate and socialise with normal people. They easily get distracted with sound or light. Theatre in a way is therapy for them and to be able to perform despite the disturbance around them is just as amazing. Many children have learnt to deal with the disturbances and shown phenomenal improvement in their social skills,” said Sharbani Mallick, Founder Managing Trustee of the Autism centre.

Play director Diana Tholoor says directing those with autism is no different from directing normal children.

“I don’t find any difference while directing these children, rather, it is easier for me. Each child comes with a unique temperament; it is for us to mould. Jungle Book is a 100 page script, and they have lines to remember, so it is definitely not easy for the children,” she added.

Jungle Book will be staged at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall on January 6 at 6 pm. The tickets are available on Bookmyshow.