Chennai

For this folk art troupe in Chennai, disability is no bar

Members of Kalapai Kalaikuzhu’ -- a folk art troupe of the Chennai Corporation’s developmental disability shelter, during a rehearsal in Choolaimedu

Members of Kalapai Kalaikuzhu’ -- a folk art troupe of the Chennai Corporation’s developmental disability shelter, during a rehearsal in Choolaimedu   | Photo Credit: S. R. Raghunathan

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Some members of the group, who are residents of a Chennai Corporation shelter, are from other parts of the country, but have learnt folk arts of Tamil Nadu

Babu Lal, an 18-year-old from a village on the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border, handles the silambam stick dexterously as he performs, along with other members of his dance troupe, to Kollywood numbers. He then switches position and dances with the Maan Kombu (deer horn) and performs a somersault.

His troupe is ‘Kalapai Kalaikuzhu’ -- a folk art performance group of a Greater Chennai Corporation shelter for persons with developmental disabilities. The four members of the group, all persons with disabilities, have been trained in Silambam, Maan Kombu, Poi Kal Kudhirai, Karagattam and other folk arts of Tamil Nadu.

There are 53 residents, between the ages of 12 and 53, at the shelter. Most were rescued by the police from railway stations. There are many from Tamil Nadu and a few from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

 

“Most of the members have disabilities, including mental disabilities, from birth. We selected six members between the agesof 12 and 21 and trained them in these art forms for one year. They grasped what was taught, but the challenge was to get them creative,” says V. Surya Moorthi, project co-ordinator, Hope Public Charitable Trust, which is running the shelter.

The troupe has performed at different clubs and for awareness campaigns during the Assembly elections. “Now we have only four members left, as two have been reintegrated with their families,” says Mr. Moorthi.

Babu Lal also wants to go back home. In broken Hindi, he says he is from Odisha and that he has no one to go back to. “Actually his grandparents are alive, but they do not want to take him back, because of his disability, we are guessing. This is also the case with Datta from Maharashtra. Even though we traced their parents, many refuse to take them back,” said a Chennai Corporation official.

Though the shelter wants to teach them more folk arts, it is strapped for funds to purchase costumes. “We see a positive change when they are encouraged to perform arts,” says Mr. Moorthi.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 1:49:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/for-this-folk-art-troupe-in-chennai-disability-is-no-bar/article30556395.ece

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