Nishumbita, born out of the vision of three artistes, has gone through the same common man struggles of lack of support, infrastructure dearth, financial crunch, and even been pulled up by the cops for ‘rehearsing too loudly’. The group is now gearing up to celebrate a milestone — completion of 20 years.
At the rehearsals for their upcoming show Macbeth, founder Rammohan Holagundi doesn’t let his nerves show. Not only is his adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy an ambitious attempt that the city has never witnessed, Ram is also planning a year-long celebration in 2014.
Nishumbita’ story begins with Ram, his brother the late Krishna Madhav, and Kuchipudi guru Sambhashiva.They began in 1994 as a group promoting social causes through theatre and dance, but dance faded when Sambhasiva moved to Warangal seven years ago.
“Back then, to rehearse, we would have to hire halls on an hourly basis. So we started rehearsing at my place. At residential areas, you have to start early by 5 am and shut shop by 8 pm,” Ram says, before recalling the “harsh” episode in 2011 when they were detained by the police.
Their commitment toward social cause, however, kept the group going. And that today, gives them the distinction of being the only group that does street plays. While current issues like the Delhi gang rape have always been their focus, their highlight show was on corruption for the Anna Hazare rally.
“One of our best experiences was performing in front of prisoners at Cherlapally. We infused a bit of humour. And we were called back twice,” they recall.
Soumya Ram H. adds, “In street theatre, the artiste also enjoys more freedom over a stage. We performed for the government continuously for five weeks in 2007 when they set up helplines for child labour. When the spectators’ anxious laughs turn into contemplative gazes, we know we are doing our bit for society.” Nishumbita has also staged plays at orphanages and old age homes. With around 300 performances so far, the group now has an ambitious anniversary plan of staging one play every month.