THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:As the vast expanse of paddy field lies inundated in the recent rain, women in lungi and blouse was busy planting ‘njar’. Located some 40 km from the city, Mamoodu in Vamanapuram panchayat, retains its greenery, as urbanisation and ‘development’ is yet to set in on the region on the bank of Vamanapuram River.
Agriculture has always been a prime occupation for the people here. Their second love? Drama. The earlier ‘Grameena nadaka vedi’ (village drama platform) here morphed into ‘Sargachalana theatre’ that is now part of an amateur drama circuit.The women in the paddy field, dragging their feet in the ankle-deep mud and planting saplings, are discussing something and break into giggles.
“When the ministers came to inaugurate the planting of saplings, our pictures were not taken. When a drama actor was here, she was photographed. But we have no issues. Once we become drama artists, we are going to be in the limelight,” said Lalitha, who is from nearby Chenkottukonam, in a lighter vein.
The people here exude a positive energy. After all, Mamoodu is set to host a rare initiative: Organic theatre, where organic farming and the theatre intertwine. The idea was launched by WIWA Cultural Development Organisation who took the help of Bharat Bhavan, a Central Government body, to revive the arts and agricultural practises of rural communities. The programme was launched on Wednesday in the presence of political and socio-cultural leaders.
The objective of the programme is to popularise organic farming and theatre. Around 10 acres have been earmarked for cultivation: Seven for paddy cultivation, two acres will have vegetables and fish in one acre. In their free time, the farmers will be trained in theatre so that at the time of the harvest, they can enact Edasseri Govindan Nair’s acclaimed play ‘Koottukrishi’.WIWA secretary S N Sudheer said, “Drama and agriculture will go hand in hand. Our intention is to make this a model village,” he said. He said the objective behind the programme is to replicate a golden era of yore.
A drama workshop was held a month ago where about 60 villagers were given basic training in acting as well physical exercises. Though people were hesitant at first, they were slowly brought into the fold by making them sing songs. “It is a gradual process,” said Bharat Bhavan member secretary Pramod Payyanur. After the harvest the paddy field will be converted as a theatre. “It will be an environmental theatre and the field will be the canvas.”
Various art forms, like Bihu, from other states will also be performed here. “We are also checking to get UNESCO’s stamp of recognition for the project,” Pramod said.However, the demise of Pushpolbhavan, a theatre artist, social worker and a politician, has cast a pall of gloom. The man, who was instrumental in preparing the field and was a vital cog behind conducting street dramas as a prelude to the programme, passed away on Tuesday night due to cardiac arrest.