Return of the Kabooliwallah

Rabindranath Tagore’s story about the friendship between a little girl and a Kabooliwallah was staged in connection with the litterateur’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations.

The paper with an ink-smeared print of a little hand is falling to pieces. But, as the shabby man gives him that bit of yellowed paper, Ravi is able to perceive what that little imprint conveys. He sees the innocent face of a girl waiting for her father in a land of mountains. Ravi’s eyes well up; overriding the objections of his relatives, he requests his daughter, Mini, to meet the stranger. Although Mini is getting married that evening, she steps out to meet the stranger. And finds that it is no stranger but her childhood friend, the Kabooliwallah.

The play, adapted from a story by Rabindranath Tagore, was enacted at Sowparnika auditorium in Rangaprabhath Children’s Theatre, Alumthara. The play and a three-day seminar were conducted by Rangaprabhath and Ministry of Culture, as part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Tagore.

The play, which begins on the day of Mini’s marriage, soon takes us to Mini’s childhood. A little chatterbox, Mini irks her mother with her constant chatter. But Mini’s life changes the day the Kabooliwallah comes to her house. Soon they become thick friends. Mini’s father, a writer, observes the blossoming of a warm friendship that cuts through all kinds of barriers. But soon, tragedy strikes and the Kabooliwallah disappears from Mini’s life. Months and years go by and Mini grows out of her loss. And it was then that he reappears on the day of her wedding.

Perfect rhythm

Music and dance sync the two periods in Mini’s life into a seamless whole. They lent the perfect rhythm to a play enacted mostly by young children. Colourful dresses, dances, songs and a profusion of kites transported the viewers to an era of innocence.

It was moving to watch the Kabooliwallah meeting his old friend with the sweets he had bought for her. If Mini does not recognise him, how would his daughter, who is living so far away in Kabul, do so? She hasn’t seen him since her childhood. His pain became the viewers.’

Asok-Sasi, the duo who have won three Akademi awards for their scripts, directed the play admirably. “It was a challenge when we were asked to choose a Tagore story. We emphasised certain points in the stage version, including a few of the subtexts in the play.”

The chorus made up of the young artistes of Rangaprabhath embellished the narrative. Anu Vijay and Sajeev Mohan excelled as the young Mini and the Kabooliwalla respectively. Anil Kumar, Vamanapuram Mani, Keerthi Krishna and Geetha performed their roles well too.

Rangaprabhath will be staging Tagore’s ‘Post master,’ ‘Home coming’ and ‘Chandalika’ too, says S. Harikrishnan, chief coordinator, Rangaprabhath.

Source: The Hindu

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About Manu Remakant

Manu has written 288 stories in Rum, Road & Ravings. You can read all posts by here.

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