Monday, July 25, 2011

Patti Vadai Kakka Nari - 24/-7/11

So it’s officially the end of the first week of Art Arattai Aarpattam 2011. And what a brilliant ride it’s been so far we’ve loved every moment of it – the chaos, the confusion, the tension, the arguments, you name it. And yet, crazy bunch that we are, we keep coming back for more. You, of course, do know why we keep coming back for more. We keep coming back because we see how much fun the children are having. And nothing compares to the sense of fulfillment that we feel each day, when these children go back to their respective homes, after a day spent learning some aspect about the art. They love it. We love them. We love it. Ergo, we would do every single thing for them again.

This evening at Art Arattai Aarpattam saw the staging of the well-loved tale from the Panchatantra, Paati, Vada, Kaka, Nari with a slight twist in the tale. Well, maybe a little more than a slight twist. Moving away from the popular version, the play had the entire kingdom of the jungle gearing up for a walkathon for the ultimate prize – paati sutta vada. Paati, who ran the factory, is famous for her mouth-watering paruppu vadas, which gained rapid popularity once she set up the manufacturing unit in memoriam of Jack, her true love who sank on the fateful Titanic and whose last wish (which remained unfulfilled) was to eat paati’s paruppu vada. The rest, as they say, is history. Or her-story, as you may want to call it.

So once the lion king announces the grand prize for the winner of the 50-km walkathon, several things happen simultaneously – the crows decide to steal the vada, the cunning foxes do too, a duck promises his young son that he will win the vada for him, the hares and the turtles debate whether speed will emerge the winner or will it be wisdom that will save the day. The chosen crow does steal the vada, which is an elaborate preparation (as you are likely to think, from the way that the paati’s monkeys make the batter and paati herself fries it). The rest of the play deals with how there is an animal-hunt launched by the king for the vada while the crow suffers pangs of guilt for easily doing away with a prize that so many animals are working hard to win. He has a change of heart and returns the vada to the cops and then we watch the exciting 50-km marathon as all the animals vie with each other to win the ultimate prize. Needless to say, it was wisdom that ruled the race.

What made the show special is that it was staged by children from the Government homes that NalandaWay works with across the state. They had worked hard to learn their lines, they had rehearsed hard and they were all set to have a rocking evening. Thanks to them, so did we. Because the performances were absolutely amazing – right from the lovable lion to the paati who still croons My Heart Will Go On to photographs of Leonardo di Caprio, from the wise turtles to the spirited hares, from the law-keeping roosters and hens to the conscience-stricken crow. Every child who played a role in the drama today played it to perfection. And they had so much fun along the way that the audience couldn’t but get caught up in all the fun!

An interesting insight that came up through the journey to this evening’s show is the emergence of natural leaders – four of the older boys who were part of the cast were also co-directors of the play. This is one of the most inherent qualities of theatre. It helps us see who are those that can lead others and this quality, is vital for us as we work with children from lesser-privileged backgrounds. Because these youngsters, who have the ability to lead others, help us work with the younger ones, who tend to trust them more naturally. Like we said earlier, the arts are an incredible journey of self-discovery, enabling to find within ourselves, strengths and qualities that we aren’t aware of. And it is our endeavor at NalandaWay to leverage the power of the arts to help rehabilitate these children into mainstream society and help them find avenues that help them create their own identities.
The next week promises to be equally full of action, as we continue the film screenings and also get into the contests – music, theatre and debate. If you haven’t made it to the fest yet, here is your chance to come and cheer the kids on as they participate in these exciting contests that we’ve lined up for them.

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