‘Khairlanji’, a theatre group to stage play on June 4


“From a lawyer to a school teacher, amateur actors in Manu-Kalank to tell the story of Dalit killings with a moral”, reports Anosh Malekar & Pia Chandavarkar 

 It is a play on one of the most violent incidents of Dalit killings in Maharashtra, but what the Prabuddha Rang Bhoomi’s ‘Manu-Kalank’, a play in Marathi, wants to convey to the audience is Buddha’s message of peace and forging a common identity as Indians.

Manu-Kalank is based on the Khairlanji incident and depicts the real-life tragedy of the Bhotmange family. The protagonist Bhaiyalal Bhotmange seeks solace in building a Buddha-Vihar rather than taking the path of revenge.

 “The play appeals to Indians to transcend caste borders. It is better if everyone condemns one’s own caste fellows for acts like Khairlanji because we are not Brahmins, or Marathas or even Buddhists, but Indians,” said Texas Gaikwad, the play’s director.

The play will be staged at Balgandharva Rang Mandir on June 4, and right now the Prabuddha Rang Bhoomi troupe is practicing at the Acharya Atre Smriti Pratisthan on Lakaki Road. “The play is written by Solapur-based Kirtipal Gaikwad. The inspiration was the Khairlanji incident itself, and we have had several discussions before we finalised the script a couple of months ago,” Gaikwad added.

Though based on a real incident, the writer-director duo have fictionalised some characters and scenes for dramatic effect. “Except for members of the Bhotmange family and Havildar Meshram, who is depicted as a villain, all other characters are fictional,” said Gaikwad.

The play opens with a mob attacking the Bhotmanges. Bhaiyalal Bhotmange survives the attack and begins narrating the story of his family’s tragic end. The actors are all amateurs who responded to an appeal by Gaikwad in March.

Saira Sheikh, a practicing lawyer, plays the important role of Priyanka Bhotmange, the young daughter whose academic achievements tragically become one of the causes of envy, which ultimately results in death for her family. Somnath Wagh, a school teacher, plays Bhaiyalal Bhotmange.

Recalling an incident of a resident objecting to the rehearsals because of the kind of language and the topic, Gaikwad, who is also a member of the State Censor Board, said there was no offensive language used in the play. “In fact, I have got it cleared from the Censor Board,” he said. Gaikwad knows the play will attract lot of attention due to its theme. However, what he wants to put across is the message: “True heroes are being depicted as villains in the present political system. Buddha’s message of peace and enlightenment has been forgotten, while the language of violence and caste hatred have taken over. It is only because violence has become an ideal that such atrocities against women are being tolerated even by women. Why this silence?” says the narrator before the curtain falls.

 Source: Indian express

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