BENGALURU: Swathi Nair caught up with a 72-year-old marathon runner, a 22 year-old Yakshagana performer who owes her success to her mother and a Dramebaaz at TEDxUlsoor
Monkeying Around With Yakshagana
I hated it when I started going to Yakshagana classes,” says Sharvani Hegde,22.
Sharvani was just 10, when she took her first class in the artform because her mother forced her into attending them. “I was very naughty, so my mother dumped me in the classes thinking it will channelise my energy in a better way,” says the BSc student.
But Sharvani confesses that the artform is one of the best things that has happened to her. She started learning the art from Yakshagana legend Venugopal and then went to be a student at Kala Darshini under the legend Srinivas Sastan. “I have been learning from the last 12 years and I still won’t say I have learnt it all. I am still learning,” she says. While keeping it traditional, Sharvani has also experiemnted with the art form. “With a few of my college friends I have given a Yakshagana fusion performance. I have also performed in Hindi,” she says. When Sharvani had started learning Yakshagana, wearing the costume also felt like quite a task. “But now I enjoy the process. It feels great to know that I am learning an art form that is so rare,” she adds. So, how do her friends react to her being a Yakshagana performer? “They don’t believe me. I am this tiny monkey, jumping here and there. That is how they percieve me,” she says. However, after a few of her friends saw her perform, their perception changed. “Their reactions are beautiful,” she says.
Sharvani says that she enjoys the popularity that the artform has brought on. “Whenever I go to an event, people now recognise me because of Yakshagana,” she adds.
Dramebaaz in Classroom
Taking lessons from theatre of the oppressed, Soumya Kavi and Prasanth Nori founded Dramebaaz in June 2015 to inculcate essential life skills among children through theatre.
“We take a few techniques from the theatre of the oppressed. For example we ask two kids in the class to enact a regular classroom conflict. This could be as simple as one person breaking another’s pencil. Then in the middle, we ask them to stop and replace one kid with another student and soon there is a change in the outcome of the decision,” explains Prasanth. Their Dramebaaz Children’s Troupe was recently in the city to perform the play -- “Naina Ki Kahaani”.
Prasanth informs that the programme primary works on four skills -- self esteem, collaboration, problem solving and confidence.
“When they are on stage and the audience applauds their work, there is a boost in their self esteem. They learn to collaborate better through their experiences of working as a unit on stage, and they also enhance their problem solving skills by working on issues during rehearsals during times when someone forgets the line. Their confidence level also increasing when they perform repeatedly,” says the Bengalureans.
For the play “Naina Ki Kahaani”, one of the kids came up with the idea and the children wrote their own story. “Many kids we work with have seen their parents forcing their sisters to drop out of school and this bothers them. While they continue to go to school, their sisters stay at home. They wanted to present this story in front of the people,” says Prasanth. The play is performed in Hindi by children from Hyderabad. “They pick the language they want to perform in. We don’t press them for English. Most of the performances are in vernacular languages,” he adds.
The team started operating in Bengaluru in June 2015. “We work with government and low income private schools,” says Prasanth.
Dramebaaz collaborates with CRY and Teach for India to present their curriculum in classes.
The Marathon Queen
At 72, Primla Hingorani is addicted to marathon. “I always enjoyed running,” she says.
Popularly known as Aunty 72, Primla has run every edition of the Mumbai Marathon since 2004 and also runs regularly at Pinkathon.
“Running has always been my passion,” says Primla, who preferred walking instead of taking an autorickshaw as a child.
Soon, she realised that walking was helping her build stamina and Primla moved on to running regularly. “After marrriage, running became jogging and when I became the mother of three, I didn’t stop, but shifted to brisk walking,” she says.
This was a time, when Primla was into active running and family responsibilities and raising children took centrestage in her life.
“You know, when you are a mother, you have your own marathons to run while running after and taking care of kids,” laughs Primla.
Once the children were married, she soon found herself at home with a lot of time on hands. “In my 60s, I took to aerobics. The last five years have been seriously dedicated to aerobics and body fitness in my life,” she adds.
It was 20 years ago, when Primal ran her first marathon and there has been no looking back since. “My last marathon was two days ago,” she says.
“People call me the marathon queen now,” she adds.
Primal transpired her love for running in her social ventures too. She trains children from the Asha Kiran Charitable Trust for marathons.