This year, NCPA’s annual Marathi theatre festival, Pratibimb, offers plays with a range of social themes. “They address problems of mill workers and ordinary workers, the film industry and even caste issues,” says Deepa Gahlot, head of programming, theatre and film, NCPA.
She explains how one of the plays, Satyashodhak, even stars municipal workers from the Pune Municipal Kamgar Union. Meanwhile, Chitragoshhti will reflect the tensions of family life in a metro, and Lakh Lakh Chanderi is about the pressures of acting in films. Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla (SUBM) shows the atrocities that are inflicted upon the lower class by the ruling class.
Not all the actors in these plays are professionals. Many come from backgrounds far removed from spotlights and stages. Meet some of the people you’ll see walking the boards at Pratibimb.
A drain cleaner with the Pune Municipal Corporation since 2001, he plays four major roles in Satyashodhak. For the play, he read a lot about Jyotiba Phule. He got his break with a music video, ‘Badalte vishwa badalte mann’ by Shankar Mahadevan.
A municipal sweeper for six years, 32-year-old More is the narrator of Satyashodhak. He also plays the roles of Savitri Phule’s brother and a doctor. He has been doing small-scale village plays for two years, including street plays on social problems. A big fan of Nana Patekar and Aamir Khan, he recently completed his Masters in Social Work (MSW) from Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth.
Amruta & Shreya More
A 24-year-old homemaker, Amruta is illiterate and had never stepped out of her house. But after being cast in Satyashodhak, “now she can give 20-minute lectures on Jyotiba Phule,” says her husband Sandeep Phule. Shreya, their five-year-old daughter, has an integral part in the play.
The 37-year-old farmer from Jamb Samarth village has written SUBM and also plays a small role in it. He has been doing small-scale theatre as a weapon for social activism for five years. His plays have dealt with dowry, electricity and farmers’ issues. In 2007, Shweta Angar, a short film he wrote on the plight of cotton farmers, went to the Cannes Film Festival.
This 36-year-old farmer hails from Jamb Samarth and is the narrator in SUBM. He has always loved theatre and often performed during Ganesh Utsav. Soon, he was doing social theme-based plays. He recently acted in a Marathi short film, Cycle, which is slated for release this year.