(Written by Shreya Tinkhede)
Seedhi line khichna bada tedha kaam hai, isi line mein khada Allah aur Ram hai — as the chorus sang these lines, the audience clapped and cheered. Part of the play #Coverage Chalu Hai, performed by Abhivyakti, the theatre society of Maitreyi College, the lyrics reflected the struggles of 14-year-old Rajjo, who realises that painting straight white lines of a zebra crossing is probably “as difficult as a government scheme fulfilling its promises”. The play was performed as part of the 11th edition of the Atelier Campus Theatre Festival, organised by Delhi-based group Atelier Theatre.
#Coverage Chalu Hai was only a part of the Delhi leg of the festival. The play revolves around Genda and Phulwati, who paint road signs, but hope for a life with a stable income and respect in society. Gopi, an elderly woman, works for the white-collared class, and, to earn some extra money, misguides Genda. Genda, in turn, takes along Rajjo and Phulwati, who works in a bangle-manufacturing factory. They fall into the trap of political schemes and vague promises and as a result Rajjo’s education is terminated. An old, sad woman searching for her lost son in the crowd, by holding his picture in her hand, comes and goes on stage throughout the narrative.
Actors wearing loose pale saris, their faces veiled and with an accent associated with rural Madhya Pradesh, made the audience aware of problems faced by the labourers. The futility of the struggling classes is brought out by the expressions and delivery of dialogues. The sub-texts included problems of child marriage, opulent weddings, women’s literacy and poverty. The play ended on a mysterious note, as Genda and Phulwati disappear and Rajjo goes in search of them. Will she be successful? The play left that for the audience to decide.