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History lessons

A new play in the city explores the relevance of Swaraj and Satyagraha in present times.

art-and-culture Updated: Jul 08, 2013 19:35 IST
Amrutha Penumudi
Amrutha Penumudi
Hindustan Times

Set against the background of the current agrarian crisis in the, a new play in the city — Postcards from Bardoli — promises to take audiences back to the historical Swaraj Movement against the British rule through the life of a young man named Mihir. It is written by Ramu Ramanathan and directed by Jaimini Pathak — a duo known for their hard-hitting plays (the most famous being Mahadevbhai; 1892-1942). Postcards from Bardoli is a blend of recorded history, wit, humour, poignancy and pain. It states hard facts and asks some tough questions.

Talking about the central theme, Pathak explains, “In 1928, drought-stricken farmers of Bardoli, Gujarat, started a Satyagraha against the increase of land tax rates imposed on them by the British. This successful agitation, led by Vallabhbhai Patel, earned him the title of ‘Sardar’. It is ironical that we are still far from attaining the goals of Swaraj. And this play is a timely reminder of that fact.”

Taking its cue from the Bardoli Satyagraha, and drawing inspiration from its hero, Vallabhbhai Patel, the play’s central character, Mihir, embarks on a perilous journey as his hapless father looks on.

Ask Pathak if the serious content and the reference to a historical event in Gujarat will restrict the audience for the play, he says, “The idea is to reach out to diverse audiences across the city and the country. The play has a great connect and relevance to our lives. As Sardar Patel once said in Bardoli, ‘India needs the farmer, India needs food’.”

Pathak further adds, “The play may have a serious theme, but it does not make for ‘heavy’ viewing. It is engaging, witty and poignant, with some lovely music to go with it. If audiences enjoy a performance, it stays with them for days, weeks, years, perhaps a lifetime.”

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