Dialogue for dignity
Youth and children from Govandi's M East ward take the stage in SoBo using drama and rap to tell stories of calling a slum their home
In the near future, you might want to drop by a bank. And it is easy to find a branch close to you. It's a city, after all, and you know you're going to be alright. But that's perhaps because you don't live in Govandi's M East ward — which houses the largest slum population in the city and has no nationalised bank.
This Friday, youth and children from the ward's Shivaji Nagar will take the stage to shed light on their reality. With theatre, mime and rap performances, the event in Nariman Point organised by NGO Apnalaya is titled Yeh Bhi Hai Mumbai, Meri Jaan! "The idea is to go and speak to that part of Mumbai that doesn't get to engage with M East ward. The programme showcases the invisibilisation of a place that is critical to the city. It also provides a stage for the youth to speak — in a way where sharing their stories is more important than finesse — as they lack social and physical space," says Dr Arun Kumar, CEO of the NGO that works for community development.
All performances by 95 participants will highlight different situations in the area. One play titled Question Mark, for instance, will depict how the ward has morning timings for water. In a gamble to fill water for their homes, children are late for school and end up getting yelled at by teachers. People with a hearing impairment and physical disabilities will also put up a dance and there will also be rap and beatboxing featuring Saniya Mistry, a 10th standard student.
How the participants approach everyday struggles with a humourous slant, struck Kumar. "Last year, for instance, they organised a skit called Panch Ruppaiyya Mein Potty. Now, there aren't enough toilets in that area — which pushes the need for open defecation — but they converted it into a humourous act. That is how they cope," he says, adding how there is a need to develop empathy and concern. "The only time when people feel a connect with Deonar is when they throw their garbage there. That needs to change. We can't just keep talking about 'Amchi Mumbai' and say we're proud Mumbaikars if we don't reach out and make sure that people have basic amenities to lead a dignified life."
ON June 14, 7.30 pm onwards
AT YB Chavan Auditorium, Nariman Point
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