Read between the border lines

As Maharashtra celebrates the 52nd anniversary of its foundation on May 1 (the state was formed in 1960), there is still a group of Maharashtrians who cannot boast of their Maharashtrian roots — those living in Belgaum in the border town of Karnataka. To highlight the issues faced by this Marathi-speaking community, Maharashtra Kalanidhi and Natyasampada will stage a play, titled Zhalach Pahije.

At the rehearsal of Zhalach Pahije

“The play is in the form of Lok Natya (folk theatre), and is a musical. There will be dance as well as comedy, but interviews with people residing in the area, which will be screened with a projector will form an important part of the play,” says Anant Panshikar of Natyasampada. The play uses the verbatim form of theatre and one of the key interviews will be the chat with the widow of one of the martyrs from the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti police firing at Hutatma Chowk. Five members of the Samiti belonged to Belgaum.

The Marathi-speaking community has been facing problems since Maharashtra was born, when Belgaum was excluded from the borders of the new state. Apart from interviews, the play will include archival material and news reports related to Belgaum. “We aren’t pointing fingers at anyone. We want to highlight the problems faced by the community by narrating reality. In Maharashtra, every festival is celebrated with fervour, however there have been times when people in this region have been forced to not celebrate Gudi Padwa — this is just one incident.

These issues have been faced for so long that several Marathi-speaking people elsewhere don’t care about it. Those living there have lost hope. Maharashtra is not so strict with other communities,” laments Santosh Pawar, who along with Vijay Kenkre directed the play. Written by Pradeep Rane, the inaugral performance of the play will feature noted Marathi film and theatre actor Subodh Bhave.

On May 1, 3 pm; At Shanmukhananda Hall, Sion. Call 24078888 

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