Satyagrah for social change and awareness

Last Updated 25 June 2012, 15:46 IST

The play is a satire on British governance and relevant even today.Corruption has forever been the bane of a country’s development and India, unfortunately, has been a world leader in this respect. Moteram Ka Satyagrah is one of the most popular examples of the roots of present day corruption.

Performed by Asmita Theatre group and directed by Arvind Gaur, the play is an adaptation of Premchand’s story of the same name.

The late Safdar Hashmi and Habib Tanvir had translated the story into play form which is a satire on the governance and the bureaucratic system when the British ruled India. However, it holds true for the present day situations as well.

In Banaras one day, the magistrate of the city gets the news that Viceroy of India is coming to visit the town. In his bid to showcase the city as one without any civic movements and free of revolutionaries, he calls on his ministers to suggest ideas which could make the city look perfect.

But when the local people hear about it, the revolutionaries and shop owners decide to go on a strike in protest of the visit. The ministers then resort to religious blackmailing and appoint Pandit Moteram to convince junta.

Moteram goes on a hunger strike against the protest but ends up breaking his fast by eating all kinds of sweets at night when no one is looking. When the magistrate finds out, he collapses but Moteram continues eating.

A number of characters adorned the play which was enacted perfectly. The magistrate with an accented Hindi who spent nights at a brothel and the lazy, butt-licking ministers were perfectly suited to the play. Between important scenes, the whole group sang a few lines which gave the gist of the important scene that had just finished. There was a group of angry villagers and a life-saver revolutionary who aided Moteram in breaking the fast by using his wit.

The play was first performed in 2002 at Sri Ram Centre in New Delhi. According to Gaur, every summer, the group holds a summer festival for a month but this time they decided to do it for two months in order to create more “social awareness and change.” They have travelled all over India including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. But the main festival was held in Delhi.

The group does nukkad natak as well. “Theatre can be used to change the society completely and create social awareness. That’s what we intend to do as well,” says Arvind. The group has entered into its 20th year and is going to perform till the 13th of July and their next stop will be Mumbai.

(Published 25 June 2012, 15:46 IST)

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