Ban on 100-yr old stage play raises questions in AP

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government’s ban on ‘Chintamani’ a Telugu stage play that has been around since 1920, has raised the hackles of the art and culture fraternity in the state. The play scripted by pre-independence era social crusader Kallakuri Narayana Rao that deals with the evils of prostitution, had celebrated its hundredth anniversary only last year.

In normal times, the play is staged regularly all year round at village and temple fairs, and other social events, across Andhra Pradesh. While the play revolves around the central character of Chintamani, a prostitute who attains salvation through repentance, it is the character of Subbi Setti, a Bania or merchant community member who descends to abject poverty, is at the centre of the current controversy.

The state government’s move to ban ‘Chintamani’ had come following representations from the Arya Vysya community in Andhra Pradesh. The Telugu merchant community, known as ‘Banias’ in north India, has long been up in arms against the play in which the character of Subbi Setty is portrayed in extremely poor light.

The ban order was issued on January 17, following the latest attempt by the Arya Vysya community, in the form of a memorandum submitted to the state government about four months ago. According to observers, the fact that Endowments Department Minister Vellampalli Srinivas, who also belongs to the community, helped matters move at a fast pace.

Predictably, the Arya Vysya community is rejoicing over the ban on the play. Community representatives have been expressing their gratitude to the Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

“The depiction of ‘Subbi Setti’ in the play, is very objectionable and humiliating. Showing him as ugly, and using charcoal as makeup to darken his complexion, and making him the butt of lewd jokes. It was intolerable to the Arya Vysyas” said Ambica Krishna, a leading member of the community, former legislator, and former chairman of the AP Film Development Corporation.

The actual problem however does not lie with the playwright or the original script of ‘Chintamani’.

“The play was written by Kallakuri Narayana Rao garu to highlight the evils of wrong company, in this case, a prostitute. The language used by the author in the original play has nothing objectionable. But over the years, local drama troupes began to modify the situations and language of the play, in a bid to appeal to mass sentiments. It is the fault of these actors and local drama troupes who keep manipulating the script and go overboard penning ribald dialogues as per their whims and fancies to attract more people.” said Golla Narayana, President of the Andhra Arts Academy, cultural organisation that was set up to spread the fervour of independence in British India.

The last few days have seen several art and culture organisations join hands to voice their protest against the ban on ‘Chintamani’. Their argument is that the play is a reflection of the social mores of the prevailing times when it was originally written. The government’s decision to ban the play is being seen as too extreme a step.

“If any part of the play is objectionable, or someone is making changes to it, you can warn such people. But a blanket ban is untenable, especially since the play gives us insights into the social ills of its time” says S Anil Kumar, Secretary, Praja Natya Mandali, Andhra Pradesh unit.

He points out that in 2002, when the community had sought a ban on the play, the High Court had ruled in favour of the play after going through the original script

However, the Arya Vysya community is firm that a blanket ban on staging the play, is the only solution. “It is impossible to monitor the plays which are staged in villages, and even in bylanes of towns and cities. We never know when and where a play is being staged. It will need to be videographed and then followed up, which is impractical to implement. A ban is the ideal solution,” says Ambica Krishna.

Meanwhile, concerns are being raised over the possible precedents that the ban sets for muzzling all kinds of creative expression in the days to come.

“Today the ban is because a community is finding it objectionable. Tomorrow another community might object to another play or it could be that a political party finds fault with a stage play. This decision to ban a play, leaves the door open for future trouble.” said G Narayana.

Considering that the play survived several attempts to get it banned over the years, the urgency with which the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led state government has banned the play by issuing it through the general administration department is raising eyebrows.

Observers opine that the ban may be the ruling party’s ploy to garner favour of the community which though relatively small in numbers, has financial clout.

While clarifying that the Arya Vysyas are well within their rights to protest against the caricaturing of their community, culture champions are finding fault with the state government for the arbitrarily disposing off a very important issue.IANS

Women writers sweep Kalinga Literary Awards-2024

New Delhi: All four Kalinga Literary Awards for the year 2024 have gone to women writers, informed Rashmi Ranjan Parida, Founder and Director, Kalinga Literary Festival. Hindi novelist Nasira Sharma...

Two British Indian musicians in Royal Philharmonic Society Awards shortlist

London: A British Indian conductor and a sitarist are among 19 individual performers and composers shortlisted for this year's prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Awards, celebrating classical music and musicians...

Crucial to appreciate creative freedom: Delhi HC rejects PIL alleging disparaging remarks in ‘Aankh Micholi’ movie

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL that raised concerns about the movie "Aankh Micholi" containing disparaging remarks against people with disabilities. The court stressed the...

Renowned Urdu poet Munawwar Rana dies at 71

Lucknow: Renowned Urdu poet Munawwar Rana died due to a cardiac arrest at the SGPGI Hospital in Lucknow on Sunday night. He was 71. The poet had been battling with...

“Muzaffar Ke Naam” documentary Wins accolades at GIFFI

New Delhi, December 17, 2023 — The captivating documentary "Muzaffar ke Naam," directed by young filmmaker Aqdas Sami, has achieved acclaim by winning the Raj Kapoor Festival Mention Award and...

Rockstar Poet Pratapgarhi leaves the audience spellbound in the Saudi capital city

RIYADH: A felicitation of top-notch Indian poet and member of Indian parliament Imran Pratapgarhi followed by his poetry rendition in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh recently was a huge...

Grammy nomination for Falu’s song on millets featuring PM Modi

Mumbai:  The song about millets featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been nominated in the Best Global Music Performance category for Grammy awards 2024. The track titled ‘Abundance of Millets’...

Manipur’s ‘Andro Dreams’ to screen as opening film at IFFI’s Indian Panorama non-feature section

Imphal: The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has unveiled its list of selected films for the 54th IFFI 2023, to be held from November 20 to 28 in Panjim,...

‘Ghalib advised Sir Syed to come out of the past, embrace the modern’

Aligarh: Very few people know that legendary Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib was one of the key motivators for another towering figure of his time Sir Syed Ahmad Khan to get...

Norwegian playwright-novelist Jon Fosse awarded Nobel Prize in Literature

Stockholm/New Delhi: In line with its standard for bringing lesser known authors to global limelight, the Swedish Academy on Thursday announced Norwegian novelist and playwright Jon Fosse, whose stark and...

‘Stories unite us’: Jaipur Literature Festival to take place from Feb 1 to 5

New Delhi: The 17th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) 2024 will take place from February 1 to 5 at Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur. The upcoming edition of the festival...

Timeless at 90: Why Asha Bhosle will forever be in the ‘G5 of Hindi Film Music’

Mumbai: Singer Asha Bhosle, who carved out her own independent niche and ruled the roost over the world of music, turns a ripe old 90 on Friday, and notwithstanding a...

Read Previous

Former Punjab DGP booked for ‘hate speech’

Read Next

Muslimness a reason for my sacking: ex-UK Minister

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By :