Bhil tribe students in MP have come up with a play called ‘Gaadan dui Chaakta’ (two wheels of a bullock cart) to expose the increasing negative influence of television, internet and other forces on the condition of tribal culture.
The play, prepared by a group of two dozen tribal youngsters, received a rousing reception at the 23rd Annual Cultural Meet of the Adivasi Ekta Parishad at Khargone’s Jhirniya on January 14.
Produced by the Natak India Company, a repertory theatre set up by the Veer Khajya Naik Trust, the play was developed at a ten-day workshop, based on the day-to-day experiences of the tribe students who are also the actors.
“Our culture was very open, and women enjoyed all types of freedom as told by our ancestral. But everything changed when TV and mobile entered. This play is all about that change and reasons behind them,” said Anil, a tribal teenager who acted in the play.
One particularly strong aspect is the propagation of obscene videos across mobiles through bluetooth, which is popularly known as “bultu”, Anil said.
“Objectification of women has led to the rise in the number of rapes and other gender-based violence among the Bhils whereas they were rare earlier,” he said.
Saantibai, a female character in the play, said: “Our identity is not through male relationships. We are not just your mothers, sisters, daughters and daughters-in-law but we are also farmers, labourers, craftsmen, engineers, doctors, sarpanchs and chief ministers.”
The woman character goes into say: “We will no longer tolerate your taunts and beatings. If you want to save Adivasi culture, then first start treating your women equally, and not as objects to be bought and sold.”
The Natak India Company, which has been advocating tribal rights and tribal education through its plays, has now made a signature contribution to the establishment of gender equity.
“There is a big role that women play in running this world, and you men have to acknowledge this,” said Rijhamibai, hinting at the unacknowledged work that women put in to run the household without which people, especially the tribals who lead a labour intensive life, would not survive.