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Play on Gandhi wows Sydney audience

A standing ovation was given to the award winning play Sammy! A Word... by the Sydney audience.

world Updated: Sep 04, 2007 13:28 IST
Neena Bhandari
Neena Bhandari

The Australian premiere of Sammy! A Word That Broke An Empire, a play tracing Mahatma Gandhi's life, has drawn applause from hundreds of people - Indians, foreigners, young and old.

The award winning play, written by Pratap Sharma and directed by Indian actress Lillete Dubey, received a standing ovation from the 700-odd people at the National Institute of Dramatic Art at Sydney.

Fifteen-year-old Joshua saw the play with his parents and two brothers Sunday evening. He said: "It is not only a good historical play, but it portrayed Gandhi as a down to earth person, someone we could relate to. He had his weaknesses, but was a great man to overcome his faults.

"My parents enjoyed the play very much and they were even more pleased that all their three sons got so much out of it."

Sammy! traces the transformation of the young Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from a naive, tongue-tied lawyer into a shrewd politician and finally a Mahatma. Sponsored by Help Child Australia Incorporated, the play recounts Gandhi's story from his early days in South Africa to his final assassination.

With Sammy!, the NGO, an offshoot of Help Child India, launched its fund-raising activity in Australia.

Rekha Bhattacharya, who produces an ethnic newspaper Indian Post, was instrumental in setting up the charity along with a group of Australian-Indians this year.

"If I can organise a replay of Sammy! next year, my main aim would be to attract young and university students. Lilette and I have bonded well. Next year we hope to bring a couple of plays for a drama festival," said Rekha.

"Celebrating the centenary of satyagraha is an auspicious start for Help Child Australia. The profits from this show will be channelled to Help Child India to directly help children and families of AIDS victims," she added.

Help Child advocates in multiple areas for HIV positive children to be accepted in society.

In a message to the NGO's satyagraha centenary celebrations, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard said: "The celebration of satyagraha in Australia allows the wider community to share in the Indian culture and in doing so symbolises the open and compassionate society that Australia has fostered over many years."

He thanked the Indian-Australian community for the cultural enrichment of the wider Australian community and their commitment to spiritual values and their contribution to Australian everyday life.

Indian Consul General in Sydney Sujan Chinoy said, "Today, when global peace, security and development are increasingly threatened by violence and intolerance and the scourge of terrorism, it is the practice of Gandhiji's eternally valid principles of truth and non-violence that could act as a salve for the numerous challenges faced by humankind in the 21st century."

First Published: Sep 04, 2007 12:54 IST