When people can relate to a play written 25 years ago about any issue, you know it’s a cause worth fighting for. With a whole new cast, Octopus Studios’ production of Dr Aruna Bhikshu’s street play Mullubaye Kathi Vache Dham Dham Dham on the occasion of World Environment Day in Hyderabad brought to light various issues that we as a society need to be worried about.
The play is based on a Telugu folktale and appears in an episodic narrative format. “It unfolds in a narrative format in the form of episodes. Each episode talks about different issues and realities — unskilled labour, migration from villages to cities, pollution, and more,” Dr Aruna says.
Written in 1991, the play has been performed over 300 times across the two Telugu states with actors ranging from children to professional actors and even tribal kids.
It’s relevance through the decades, Dr Aruna says, is what has made it popular. She says, “It’s more of a reality now. We’re talking about the cutting down of trees in KBR park, the levels of pollution have increased, water levels have become scarce... everything has multiplied.”
Choosing the street play format has also made a mark on its audiences, she believes: “We were doing the play in a park in Bagh Lingampally in 1991, and there were these migrants from rural areas who sat down and watched the us. You could see that they were really into it and they actually cried, because they empathised with the characters in the play.”