Junior Amitabh struts his stuff during a performance of the Toran Natak Company, one of only four surviving travelling theater groups in Gujarat.
In a state which has lost thousands to communal violence in recent years, the 25 artists of the Natak Company come from various castes and religions, reaffirming the idea of peaceful co-existence.
In the 1970s travelling troupes were very popular, supporting more than hundred artists and a repertoire of over 50 plays from different genres. Those days are over. Television and mainstream cinema since the 1990s have practically destroyed them. With audiences shrinking every season, the troupes find it very hard to continue. The government provides no support, monetary or otherwise; in fact, putting up a show involves paying bribes to various officials.
But at least for now, they are continuing, even if it’s for just Rs 5,000 a night between 25 people. They know it better than most — the show must go on!
(Das is a photojournalist and a member of Blindboys.org, an online platform for photographers)