Legacy of laughs and adventure
Children's theatre is well and alive. Credit to Umang for staging a delightful play, “Gopu Ganesh Jhumjhum Haathi”.
KIDS ON TOP An Umang workshop in progress.
Her active involvement with Indian People's Theatre Association as an artiste shaped her creative vision, her modesty and affability enabled her to establish friendly rapport with children. In the course of her long journey into the world of children theatre, she had written and staged a number of plays for children which they simply loved to watch. Rekha Jain's most important work is the establishment of Umang, a children's theatre group, in 1979, which took the shape of children theatre movement. After her demise, her family members, who are themselves creative persons, are keeping alive Umang with the same dedication Rekha Jain worked. It has instituted an award in her memory which is being given every year to an outstanding children theatre artiste.
True to its long established tradition of conducting summer theatre workshop culminating in a public show, this year's “Gopu Ganesh Jhumjhum Haathi” was staged at Kamani auditorium last week. The play is directed by K.G. Krishnamurti, who emphasised on the process-orientation rather than on performance orientation which gave children the feel of playing rather than doing the tedious job of performing in a well-made play. There was enough room for children for improvisation. What really delighted the audience was that children of different age group enacted their roles with enthusiasm and spontaneity, establishing lively rapport with the audience – mainly children and their parents.
Written by Vaidehi in Kannada and translated into Hindi by Kuldeep Singh Saingar and K.G. Krishnamurti, “Gopu Ganesh Jhumjhum Haathi” reveals the friendship between a boy called Gopu Ganesh and an elephant, Jhumjhum. Various thematic elements like encroachment on the habitats of animals, the menace of unscrupulous poachers on the rare animals. It has also elements from the Arabian tale of Alibaba and Forty Thieves. There are also caricatures of inapt policemen – all these elements are well-woven into the storyline which is cohesive and unfolds logically. It entertains as well as educates.
The opening of the play itself is interesting. Two huge puppets on either side of the downstage move about gently. In the centre upstage an artistically designed object is conceived which gives the illusion of a temple. The director captures the milieu of a fair with vendors and buyers. Here Gopu Ganesh meets Jhumjhum Haathi who is made captive by a greedy and cruel man who uses him to provide children a joy-ride on payment at a high price. Gopu's parents want their son to enjoy himself. Gopu sits on the back of the elephant. Suddenly the elephant gets angry and becomes wild. The crowd started running hither and thither for their safety. At this point Gopu gets separated from his parents. The worried parents lodge a report with the police. A lone and terrified Gopu goes to various places – jungles, valleys and finally stays amid the forest animals that welcome him and try to protect him from man-eaters. There are various twists and turns to the story which ends on a happy note; the poachers get arrested with the brave and intelligent efforts of Gopu and finally he meets his parents and Jhumjhum gets his liberation.
Music direction by Ajit Chaudhary creates the right mood, carries the story forward. The lyrics are rendered by singers endowed with melodious voices. The colourful costumes symbolically indicate different forest animals; the dances embellish the production, making the show visually captivating.
After watching “Gopu Ganesh Jhumjhum Haathi” one comes out of the auditorium with the assured feeling that Umang is now in the competent hands dedicated to carry forward the legacy of Rekha Jain.
DIWAN SINGH BAJELI
Send this article to Friends by
Chennai and Tamil Nadu