In rural Vidharbha, theatre is thriving probably because of a play that has struck chord with agriculturists here. Called Atma
Hatya, the play has drawn daily audiences in excess of 5,000. "We have farmers, tailors, painters and vendors in our plays," says
Ghulam Sufi of the Venkatesh natya mandali that is staging Atma
Hatya. "That's one reason why it resonates so much with ordinary people."
A striking feature of the play is the absence of sponsors. No boards announcing the generosity of kind corporate patrons. Called Jhadi patti rang bhoomi--loosely translated as theatre of the jungle belt--theatre in Vidharbah has changed from its moorings in mythology. "A farmer's life is not worth living," says the protagonist of Atma Hatya. The play sees debt as a driving factor.It also captures other stresses, such as the inner-family drama linked to changing lifestyles and interests as some members move away from farming.
The play's message is positive. Suicide is no solution. Fight the idea in your homes.
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