Oliver Twist with a Hindustani touch

This was a play for a cause and for all age groups. ‘Bhaag Oliver Bhaag’, adapted from Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist was recently held in the City highlighting the state of vagabonds living on the streets.

Staged under the aegis of HelpAge India, the story was brought to life by theatre veteran Sarita Vohra’s Living Room Theatre. It was an evening of rib-tickling fun but with an underlying message.

The play portrayed humour mingled with hope, as one third of the world’s poor children live in India, of which at least 18 million are street kids – either orphans, runaways or abandoned by dysfunctional families. With the result, many of them become soft targets and end up getting involved in petty crimes. Yet they love their City and do not lose heart, their hopes or dreams.

The overall narrative uses Dicken’s plot but introduces minor changes. So, pickpocket Fagin becomes Fagun, Bill Sykes becomes Bill Syko, Nancy becomes Nainy and shares her role with Betty Bapso and Bulbul. Also added are the self-obsessed aunt Fanny and uncle Lollipop.

The 25 member cast included children, young adults and a few senior citizens too – making it a play for everyone. The play was in ‘Hindustani Tapori’ with liberal sprinkling of English!

The writer and director Sarita later said, “This play is an Indianised adaptation of the incomparable ‘Oliver Twist’, written in 1837,which is so relevant even today. For me theatre is a medium not just to promote talent but also to raise awareness about relevant issues. The cast of this play once again highlights that there is no age to follow one’s dream. Our youngest actor is an eight-year-old, while the oldest is 70 plus, a retired Airforce officer and a professional TV actor.”

“The play shows how these street kids are deprived of even the basic necessities in life – school, good clothes, food and end up becoming pick-pockets. It was a straightforward, powerful and colourful story with a contemporary touch but also highlighting a cause,” added the director.

Bhaag Oliver Bhaag was a complete entertainment package with foot tapping music, comedy and colour. However, behind this 90 minute fun packed presentation lies a serious message, dedicated to a million Olivers, who are still being pushed into lives of petty crime and misery and give a strong message to senior citizens to lead healthy and active lives and never give up on their dreams.

The play will again be shown at the Epicentre, Gurgaon on October 27. Tickets are available on bookmyshow.

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