Theatre

Remembering a legend

IN REMEMBRANCE: Mahatma Jyothi Rao Phule. Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam   | Photo Credit: C_V_SUBRAHMANYAM

To present two centuries old biographical details of the legendary social activist Jyotiba Phule, flawlessly, is not an easy task for a playwright. But, for noted playwright Vijay Bhasker, a deft hand at scripting many successful plays, the task was not a difficult one. For the play Mahatma Jyoti Rao Phule, the playwright selected some episodes from the life of the social reformer.

Born in 1827, Jyotiba Phule was a proactive social thinker of the 19th century. He worked for the unity of the deprived and exploited sections in the rule of Peshwa of Pune.

He got married to Savitribai in 1840. He taught his wife Savitribai and later employed her to teach in the first school for girls, he launched at Pune, despite bitter opposition from the orthodoxy. Jyoti encouraged remarriage of widows and prevented the inhuman act of tonsuring the heads of widows and led a barbers' strike which rose against this practice in 1889. He extensively wrote on exploitation of the downtrodden and women and worked for the spread of the message of ‘Satyashodhak Samaj' that he launched in 1873. The play that was staged at Ravindra Bharati was well attended. It portrayed how Maharastrian Bhatts (Brahmins) of that time troubled Jyoti's family and others who mingled with other castes in wedding and festivities.Vidyasagar in the title role of Jyotiba and Surabhi Prabhavati as his wife Savitribai played well these pivotal roles. The play opened with the sequence of Vamanavatara. Vamana the incarnation of Mahavishnu is seen pushing demon King Bali Chakravarthi into Paataala. The playwright likened Bali to the down-trodden and Vamana as the first oppressor. Jyotiba too believed all religious texts are man made, not God created. Chilakaraju Narsayya as Jyoti Phule's father Govinda Rao was mumbling his lengthy emotional dialogue. The play was presented by Dasya Art Theatre. Souda Aruna directed the play.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 7:53:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Remembering-a-legend/article16373441.ece

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