PUNE: Darkness may be their fate. Blindness, however, did not prove to be an impediment for 80 Pune-based children who pitched in their creative bit by staging a play “Freedom Saga” celebrating 50 years of Indian Independence.
Swatantrachi Yashogatha (freedom saga) staged here last week by children of the Pune Andhshala (Pune blind home) recounted the contributions of patriots- Mangal Pandey, Rani Laxmibai, Lokmanya Tilak, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Veer Savarkar.
The play began with a grandfather’s narration-episode by episode-of the freedom saga to his little granddaughter as the children enacted each story on stage.
The highlight of the event is not the fact that all the 80 blind children are all set to enter the Guinness Book of World records, but the sheer dedication with which each dedication with which each child participated in the show. It goes to the credit of these visually impaired children that they gave an entire new meaning to the patriotic celebration without being overcome by the disability.
The man behind the play director Swagat Thorat, enthused by the response is preparing to stage the play all over Maharashtra and if possible even outside the State. “Some of the blind children heard my play on Helen Keeler on radio and got in touch with me. They were inspired by her achievement, grit and determination. Moved by their pleas I decided to write a play for them. This is how it all began,” said Mr. throat.
Naturally, directing 80 children for a play that spanned more than an hour was no child’s play. The script written in Braille was a big help. However, that by itself was not enough.
The main problem was that not many blind people are used to gesticulating while talking. This was overcome by training the children to act according to the background music and by counting numbers. The hard work put in by the director and the rest of the crew indeed proves hidden capabilities of the blind.
“Teaching them was tedious. The emphasis was no voice training and dialogue delivery. But I am proud to say that the effort paid off in the end,” said Swagat with pride.
Following the Punekars ‘warm response, the “Freedom Saga” will now be staged 50 times all over the State. “We are celebrating 50 years of Independence. It is but natural then, that this play is also staged that many times,” explained Mr Swagat. Over the coming few months, this determined lot will hopefully be able to open people’s eye with their emotive rendering of the freedom saga.
By Ketan Narottam Tanna