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Voices on streets
One of the festival plays being staged in front of Academy of Fine Arts. Picture by Aranya Sen

A four-day theatre festival organised by CRY saw a total of 24 groups joining hands to celebrate the cause of child rights across the city from December 9 to 12.

“The objective of the festival Bol Jamoore (from the common Indian analogy of a street monkey showing tricks/antics) is to spread awareness among people about child rights. Unlike other years when we hold this festival only at Swabhumi, this time we added Academy of Fine Arts and Madhusudan Mancha as our performance venues to reach out to a greater number of people,” said Piu Sur, the manager (communications) of CRY.

Apart from a few professional theatre groups, most participants were amateurs. The cross-section of performers included corporate groups.

“This is not a very structured event. All those who are interested in theatre and believe in child rights can take up this medium to express themselves. Even children can articulate their grievances through theatre,” said Jayeeta Biswas, assistant manager (youth), CRY.

The first day at Madhusudan Mancha saw performances by Jhala Pala, a children’s group from Dum Dum; Kathak Performing Art, another children’s group, students of NUJS and CRY volunteers.

The second day at Swabhumi was attended by 15 groups, which included professionals like Song Saptak, Shukchar Pancham, Eso Natak Sikhi and corporate group Future First.

The issues highlighted were the psychological effect of war on children, loss of playgrounds, slavery and the plight of the tea garden labourers of north Bengal and the physically challenged.

On the third day, outside the Academy of Fine Arts, Dibaratri Gadya (based on an unnamed poem by Manik Bandyopadhyay) was performed by Natyamukh, while Gotroheen staged Badal Sircar’s Beej. The third performance was of Shong by Daul, a theatre group from Santiniketan.

The first play dealt with eviction and the immediate parallel with the Nandigram issue was hard to miss. The second play was a retaliation against workaday life.

The third play, Shong, charted the life of two jokers in a circus who were treated like animals, leading them to lose their identity. The play ends with a child taking the stage and the impression of the vicious cycle of life was poignant.

Despite it being a weekday and the noise of the traffic on Cathedral Road, the plays attracted a good number of passersby.

The festival ended with a seminar at the Natya Academy with the team leaders of each group sharing the experiences at Bol Jamoore. They spoke about how effective theatre was to carry forward the message of child rights.

Jhinuk Mazumdar


Fair chance

Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi lights the inaugural lamp for World Disability Day celebrations at Nopani Institute of Health Care Studies. Picture by Anindya Shankar Roy

It was the east zone finals of a five-year-old scholarship competition, with a difference. Thirty-eight young girls, anxious with anticipation and with dreams in their eyes, had gathered at The Oberoi Grand on a chilly Wednesday (December 5) morning to fight it out for the Fair & Lovely Foundation Scholarships 2007.

The contest aims to help the needy girl child to pursue higher studies with an annual scholarship of upto Rs 1 lakh. A sound academic background and an annual income not exceeding Rs 15,000 were some of the points on the checklist.

The Calcutta leg of the contest got underway at 9am at the Esplanade address and continued through the day with three judges grilling the girls on myriad topics that brought out their keenness to pursue higher studies and their intelligence quotient. “We asked questions like what would she do if she does not get the scholarship. We also had to make sure that no one was lying about the income,” said designer Agnimitra Paul, one of the judges. “The contest was an eye-opener. Sometimes we blow Rs 1,000 on a pair of shoes and there are people who cannot continue with studies because they do not have that amount,” she added. Regional passport officer M.K. Singh was another judge. Psychologists were also used in the judging process.

Though they were tense, the participants were plucky. “Even if I do not get the scholarship, I will not give up studies,” said Anusrita Dutta, a first-year student of microbiology, who came all the way from Sonarpur.

The Fair & Lovely Foundation Scholarships 2007 rolls over to Hyderabad and Bangalore next.

The finals will be held in Mumbai at the end of the month.

Saionee Chakraborty

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