Lives of Others

Lives of Others

Kabadi — Uncut,the Marathi play which shows life at a landfill,bagged five awards at Thespo 15.

All human beings,no matter who the person is,produce waste. But most of us don’t know where it all goes,” says the Pune-based director Suraj Parasnis. The thought that ragpickers and the rest of us live in two different worlds has inspired Kabadi – Uncut,a play which bagged five awards on Sunday at the 15th edition of the recently-concluded youth theatre festival,Thespo.

Kabadi–Uncut follows the story of a ragpicker,Barbie,who finds a camera and shoots a documentary about the landfill when a bunch of film students show up. The young girl shoots a lot of footage of herself,and gets immersed into filmmaking while assisting the students. The narrative is simple,but it’s the device they have employed to tell the story that makes the play stand out.

Parasnis says,“We used light from a projector in the background and actors performing in front of it to depict the footage that Barbie has been shooting. This way,we managed to convert the stage into a screen.” When the footage was shaky,Parasnis,who was sitting in the front row,would shake the projector he was holding to imitate the effect or if the shot was tilted,the actors would tilt their heads,and the projector would follow them.

The Marathi play was written by Siddhesh Purkar about a year ago,and was performed at local competitions in Pune with little success. “It was a 45-minute play earlier,which we extended to 70 minutes. Maybe that is what worked for us,” says Parasnis. The play was staged on December 11 as part of the festival,held at Prithvi Theatre,Juhu.


In order to envision the play,the team had wanted to experience a landfill firsthand. But like many,he had no idea where he could find a landfill. Following a garbage truck,they landed at Hadapsar in Pune. Purkar says,“The whole process of how a garbage truck unloads is so dramatic,I had to write about it. It’s amazing how we know nothing about them,even though we both need

each other.”

It would have been very easy to focus on how sad their lives are,but the script shies away from any tear-jerking. The play touches upon exploitation of the poor,and how the under-privileged ragpickers live,but the tone of the play is happy. “People there seemed very satisfied. We try and make poor people’s lives to be so tragic in our heads,but it doesn’t need to be so. When we went to the landfill,we met a woman who said she wouldn’t leave the place even if she got one lakh rupees. When we wanted to offer her something,she turned us down and said she wanted to give us something instead,” says the young director.