The Hindi version of Ramneek Singh’s Cage of Sparrows, Chidiyon Ka Pinjra will be staged today and tomorrow
In the wake of Operation Blue Star, thousands of people from Punjab emigrated to Europe in search of better economic opportunities — a phenomenon that continues till today.
It is such stories that Ramneek, through an intensely researched script, brings to life in his play, Cage of Sparrows which will be staged in its Hindi version, Chidiyon Ka Pinjra, translated by Kafeel Jafri and Ramneek, in the city.
Set in Garhi Mahasingh in Punjab, Chidiyon Ka Pinjra revolves around the lives of Rulda and Rinku, who, though separated by a generation are bound by one desire: the need to escape.
The play is a complex piece of drama that touches upon various issues, central among which is immigration, while also exploring the idea of freedom, of loss and longing and the notion of home.
For his research, Ramneek spoke with immigrants in Barcelona, Rome and Paris and even to agents who help people to immigrate and to families that have been left behind.
“I met a young boy who sold souvenirs in Paris who had travelled to six countries, working illegally. There were Pakistani immigrants who moved to Barcelona and now sell beer there,” says Ramneek, who won the Toto Funds the Arts Award for creative writing and Shyamanand Jalan National Youth Theatre Award for best original play for Cage of Sparrows in 2012.
While Ramneek’s interest is in the lives of the immigrants, some of whom died or were lost during their journey to foreign shores, he also explores the stories of the women left behind. “There is a sense of suspension in the design of the set, a sense of impregnable borders of different kinds,” says Ramneek, who has studied Devising Theatre and Performance at London International School of Performing Arts and trained at Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Art Research, Pondicherry.
The play, in a sense, depicts a history few know of. “I try to understand human conflict. As theatre practitioners and playwrights we are also questioning our own prejudices. These are individual histories and through them we talk about communities.”
The title of the play is a metaphor of the life of an immigrant. “The main protagonist Rulda recounts how he used to sell colourful sparrows to tourists. One day on seeing the sparrows huddled together as they are not used to the cold weather, he realises how similar their lives is to his own. And that is how the title of the play emerged.”
The first play to be presented by the city-based, The New Voices Arts Project, Chidiyon Ka Pinjra will be staged at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield, today and tomorrow at 8 pm.
The cast includes Mayuresh Nirhali, Swetanshu Bora, Kafeel Jafri, Champa Saha, Akhshay Gandhi, Parvathi Om, Aniruddha Bhosekar and Abhinav Kimothi. Tickets are available at bookmyshow.com and at the venue.