Creative agendas on Sonu's mind despite shortcomings
ITAHARI, Nov 27: Though Itahari did have its share of art and music activities, for sometime it was experiencing a slow time. Plays were especially missing from the scene.
Now Itahari, which is known as the junction city of southeast Nepal in the Tarai, is deeply involved in art and music activities. The numbers of artists who are committed to increasing artistic activities in the town are also increasing.
Leading the campaign to promote theatre and culture in Itahari is Sonu Jayanti. He is focused on bringing art and theatre to the forefront in every aspect of the society, and in order to do so, he is also leading an institution named Kalalaya. Using art to bring about better changes in the society, he has reached out to students, housewives and different sectors of the society with his activities. His idea of bringing together students for school theatre and housewives for home theatre became popular too.
There is no official resource behind the campaign which is trying to connect art with culture. Training has always been available for those interested in theatre and dance, with Sonu being the main trainer.
Sonu, 32, has been actively involved in the campaign for the last five years. His father passed away 10 years ago and it has been three years since his mother passed away, too, leaving him and his sister Anupama. But instead of worrying about his future, he is more worried about the future of others.
“Sometimes, organizations which hold various campaigns pay me, but otherwise, I don’t charge people for teaching acting,” says Sonu who has not taken the profession on a business level. However, he added that students coming to learn dancing from him are charged.
Since Sonu started teaching acting and dancing, his finances, instead of improving, has rather dwindled. But he proudly says that no students have been rejected at his institute. He also informed that a theater and dance program was organized during the holiday season of the students. As far as he remembers, more than one thousand students have passed out of the acting classes from his institute.
In 1993, when Sonu’s financial status was very weak, he took up acting classes in Itahari from Bikram Shree who was famous during the time. After a three-month course, he acted in a play in Jhakanjhod in Sunsari and that was when his career on the stage kicked off.
To earn a living for himself and his family, he started teaching acting at Ramdhuni School in Jhumkako and Janak School in Inarwa.
“At the same time, the two schools also asked me teach their students dancing because the dance teacher had quit. I was in a Catch 22 situation but I took it up,” says Sonu, adding that he was slowly successful in doing so.
When he was growing up, he saw his mother painting and making dolls out of clothes which inspired him to go into theater art.
“I was interested in arts and theater right from the beginning but I couldn’t pursue it because of my family’s financial condition. It was only after SLC that I got to do something about it,” shares Sonu.
When he was in class seven, Sonu got one Rupee for his lunch, which he saved to pay his Rs 22 tuition fees to the school. In grade eight, he worked at a hardware store in Jhumka and in class nine and 10 he worked at a tent house and an electronics shop.
Sharing his story of poverty, he says, “I know my financial status has never improved, but I’m working now, and keeping in mind that others be benefited from my teachings.”
Even though Sonu is from Jhumka, he currently lives in a rented room in Itahari.