Jashnebachpan “Barsoraam Dhadaake Se” captured the transformation of an individual convincingly.

A little girl’s dream triggered a transformation in a man — from a stingy mean-heart to a generous, compassionate person. “Barsoraam Dhadaake Se” was performed by Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) Balmanch, Mumbai, as part of the National School of Drama’s “Jashnebachpan”, the annual theatre festival for children.

Written by Kalpana Swaminathan and directed by Shaili Sathyu, it brought in a star cast that included children, adults and the middle-aged. Staged in front of a full house at New Delhi’s Shri Ram Centre, with a section of the audience lining the aisle, it was received with excitement, especially by the children. The story revolved around Bansode, the landlord of Africa House and the man with many rules for his tenants.

So as the occupants dealt with leaking roofs and a ramshackle bathroom, Bansode diligently went around collecting rent and conning the occupants. The routine continued till Megha, the girl bound to the wheelchair, entered the house. The transformation of Bansode is brought about with humour. An element of fantasy is also woven into the story as Megha gives Bansode her dream — a bunch of colourful bangles. It is in his bid to get rid of the bangles in his hands that Bansode gets to know the kindness in him. Actor Javed Khan gave a very convincing performance as Bansode, bringing in enough humour to his portrayal yet acting out the changes in his character subtly. The children put up an energetic show and got the support of a veteran in Sulbha Arya as the considerate neighbour of Bansode. The sets without being extravagant gave a sense of Africa House reasonably well.

Directorial debut

Director Shaili came across Swaminathan’s short story “Bangles for Bansode” a few years ago. Shaili dramatised and translated it into Hindi and got together a cast to present her directorial debut. Though IPTA Balmanch in Mumbai was born in 1984, Shaili admitted the productions were few with just about five plays staged over two decades. Balmanch gathered momentum a couple of years ago when a new production was performed and “Barsoraam Dhadaake Se” gave it more steam. The children in the cast have been drawn from schools while the youngsters were participants in the inter-collegiate competitions.

On children’s theatre in Mumbai, Shaili said, “Its importance has grown over the years. There is awareness among parents and theatre as an exercise is taken up in schools too. It will take another two years for it to spread into its potential.” Children’s theatre at times gets caught in an attempt at preaching, a lesson or a moral sneaked in for the target audience. In “Barsoraam Dhadaake Se” too one couldn’t miss the little lesson that was pointed out to the audience. Shaili said, “The basic story was about the transformation of an individual.” In children’s theatre too, there can be stories left open-ended and those with an element of sermonising. Here, there was also an element of magic, she added.