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Komal Panwar

Blogger & Singer

JWB Witnessed Ugly Truth Of Child Labour Through The Play “Sitaare Zameen Par”

  • JWB Post
  •  November 17, 2015

 

It was during Children’s Day that the Theater Festival for child rights came into action. When we attended the final day play about the child labor called “Sitaare Zameen Par”, it got us thinking more than we thought we would.

It was amazing to see kids between the ages 6 to 14 acting, and their performances were like of the professional actors!

The play began with kids (that were stars up in the sky) holding placards and protesting against going down to live on Earth. The Gods, being a funny bunch, joked around and wondered why the children were so reluctant about going down to the most happening place – Earth.

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Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi – all sat in a meeting and decided to call CID’s ACP Pradyuman and Daya who would go down on the Earth and find out what was so wrong with the Earth that the children refused to visit it.

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The CID squad comprehended pretty quickly that Kuch toh Gadbad hai. And then they descended to the Earth.

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They reached a railway platform where they found a bunch of children sleeping. While one worked in a mine factory, the other worked as a cobbler, another one sold flowers.

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The children were woken up by a Police inspector and asked the whereabouts of their friend Mushtaq who had been missing for a while. Interestingly, Mushtaq is here a metaphor for “desirous”.

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The kids narrate the tale of Mushtaq, and how he always wanted each of them to quit working and begin studying.

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The play concluded with Mushtaq being killed and an omnipresent voice instigating the children to listen to the Mushtaq inside them.

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The play highlighted how despite the measures being taken by governmental and non-governmental organizations, the country still possesses the largest child labour force in the world. The plot revolved around child labourers raising their voice against the practice. They told the audience how these children never see toys, attend school or read books and are forced to wash dirty utensils and become rag pickers.

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We met the play’s Director Mr. Sourav Bhatt who was of course busy amidst all the appreciation and pats on his back!

JWB: Was it difficult to work with such little children, considering children are always chirpy and excited?

Mr. Bhatt: Not at all, they would all come down to my house every day as per my prescribed time, and we’d practice for hours. They are very dedicated, more than you usually expect children to be! In fact, I think you won’t find as many dedicated adults!

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JWB: Have you ever had such an experience that kindled the idea?

Mr. Bhatt: I was in Chandigarh, staying over at a friend’s place. He had a little boy servant. They pushed him to study but something or the other always stopped the child from studying. During my stay, I didn’t let him work even a little bit. I developed a strong bond with the boy. It was then that I decided I wanted to write a play about it.

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Do you ever wonder what that rag picker you see every morning goes through? Do you ever think of getting her the education she deserves?

Maybe, now is the time.

Photo courtesy: Pallav Bhargava

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