BIRATNAGAR, Dec 17: There is a deep friendship between a short, young Mongolian with flat nose and chinky eyes and a tall Aryan with long nose and big eyes. These two have been friends since childhood and their wives are on equally friendly terms. They even go out of their way to help strangers in their village, even if it means collecting money from people.
Communal feelings have often come in the way of these two neighbors but their wives remind them that communal differences cannot break their friendship. The audience cannot keep from engaging themselves in the plot; the depiction of inter-race friendship like these two share is almost an anachronism in today’s time.
Many onlookers shed tears while watching “Abako Bato”, a street drama enacted by Dharan’s famous theater group, Anam. The audience who were roaring with laughter in the beginning scenes that comprised of humorous dialogues and funny sequences, were later completely immersed in the play.
Photos: Gopal Dahal
Shyam Tamot who’s written popular social awareness songs like “Gaun Gaunbata Utha” was seen crying among the audience at Biratnagar’s Traffic Chowk. “I am a little emotional, national issues like these bring tears to my eyes,” he said.
Since 2007, Nepalis have witnessed democracy, people’s movement, people’s war; ‘loktantra’, ‘ganatantra’ and many have lost their lives in the course of accomplishing these achievements. But these words have just become a rhetoric while people are being forced to suffer every passing day.
It is this suffering that Anam’s “Abako Bato” tries to illustrate. The question “What will happen now and how are we to fulfill our responsibilities” lingers on, even after the play is over.
The theatrical journey started by Anam has reached 245 places in the east, giving out the message that to promote democracy, inclusion and rights, there must be strong social harmony.
The Anam team demonstrated their street drama in the settlements of eastern hilly and Tarai regions. Alpana Karmacharya, drama coordinator, shares that while some people didn’t pay much attention to the plays, others were mostly very helpful. “In many places, the people initially were not supportive because they thought that showcasing of such plays would hamper their businesses but after the play was shown, those very people thanked us,” says Karmacharya.
One of the actors, Saraswati Mahanta Yogi shares, “Earlier, rights and democracy seemed like political issues but with the habit of saying it during the dramas, I have come to internalize it.” Similarily, Srijana Rai, another actor says that after the street dramas, she is now confident enough to at least teach her family about social harmony.
The drama which has been conceptualized by Rajendra Rimal, managed by Madan Gupta and directed by Subash Thapa has been showcased in Sunsari, Jhapa, Morang, Tehrathum, Panchthar, Dhankuta, Ilam, Saptari, Siraha and Udayapur districts.
The cast of the street drama included Subash Thapa, Alpana Karmacharya, Madan Gupta, Suraj Thapa, Saraswati Mahanta Yogi, Srijana Rai, Chanda Rai, Tekraj Limbu, Alka Neupane, Laxmiprasad Khanal and Swechhata Yogi.
“We found out that people from the hills to the Tarai worry about threat posed by communal sentiments to social harmony. People irrespective of their castes and languages wish to live together in peace. Only a selfish few sow the seeds of communal hatred,” comments director Thapa.