Sukracharjya Rabha’s TO’ POIDAM

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Playwright & Director: Sukracharjya Rabha
Group: Badungduupa, Assam
Language: Rabha
Duration: 1 hr

The Play
To’ Poidam is based on a Rabha folk-tale, and the literal meaning of the term is ‘the bird named Poidam’. The story revolves around a mother and her five sons. One day while collecting vegetables from her kitchen-garden the mother notices the droppings of an unknown bird. When the vegetable is cooked it turns out to be extremely delicious. After hearing about the indications of the presence of a strange bird, the four elder sons decide to hunt it, assuming its meat will be exceptionally tasty and might even make them immortal. Despite the warnings of the wise younger brother and mother, they go to hunt it. The bird, which is an evil presence, takes over their minds completely, consuming their souls and making them dance to her tune. Meanwhile, the mother has a dream and persuades her youngest son to go to the rescue of his brothers. He does so and manages to save their lives. However, one of the brothers strikes him unconscious and they lie to their mother on reaching home, that they never met their brother. When the youngest son regains consciousness he returns home and kills his eldest brother.

Director’s Note
We the Rabhas, has been listening to this story for generations, though, none seems to look into it from a different perspective. Lately the changing political environment, erosion of human values and globalization has threatened the socio-cultural identities of different ethnic groups. One group of people has totally forgotten the relationship between the nation, the society and an individual. They are concerned only with fulfilling their personal need. Whereas some others are struggling to preserve their socio-culture identity. But the question is –what are the causes of this turmoil? Some are satisfied with accepting ‘external forces’ as the root cause, some blame our inherent weakness. The story summarizes these and many other social conflicts. The play is a theatrical expression of this symbolic story as per my understanding and feelings.

The Director & Playwright
Sukracharjya Rabha (10 April 1977- 8 June 2018) was born in Rampur village of Goalpara District, Assam. In 2001, he founded a theatre group, Badungduppa, a rural based theatre centre in his village. Using Badungduppa as the platform, he directed 26 plays in Rabha, Bodo and Nepali languages during his lifetime. Through his work in theatre, he promoted the cultural heritage of Rabha community as well as other ethnic groups of North East India. He was the brain behind the prestigious “Under the Sal Tree”, a unique research oriented theatre festival. He was the recipient of many a prestigious award and recognition including Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar, 2009 for Direction from Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi; Aditya Bikram Birla Kala Kiran Puruskar, 2010 from Sangeet Kala Kendra, Mumbai for his outstanding performance in the field of theatre; and many more. He posthumously received Doctorate in Philosophy in the year 2018 from Guwahati University, a place where he also worked as a Guest Lecturer at Human Resource Development Centre under UGC.

The Group
Badungduppa was established in 1998 in the Goalpara district of Assam by the initiative of theatre lovers within Rabha community. It is the only rural based tribal theatre group actively engaged in making plays with contemporary meaning. Under the artistic leadership of Sukracharjya Rabha, the group has produced 20 plays in last 20 years. The group is regularly organizing workshops for rural artists and a research oriented theatre festival named “Under the Sal Tree”, and Children Theatre Festival annually.

Cast & Credits
Youngest son: Dhananjay Rabha
Second son: Himeswar Rabha
Third son: Uddhab Rabha
Fourth son: Bijay Kr Rabha
Eldest son: Basanta Rabha
To’ Poidam (birds): Bijay Rabha
Narrator: Kamil Rabha
Mother: Nirmali Rabha
Co-actors: Minakhsi Rabha, Bhanima Rabha, Sameli Rabha, Janki Rabha
Chorus: Sameli Rabha, Nirmali Rabha and All Artistes

Settings: Dhananjay Rabha, Dibakar Rabha
Costumes: Madan Rabha, Cheena Rabha
Music: Lakhikanta Rabha, Madan Rabha, Binanda Rabha, Dibakar Rabha
Light: Nilim Chetia

Script, Concept & Direction: Sukracharjya Rabha

Manohar Khushalani

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is Currently a Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he teaches are: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: www.onevorld.org and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: www.stagebuzz.in & www.stagebuzz.info He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He is an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

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