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Play the green way

Posted January 8th, 2019, 10:24 AM IST

Play the green way

Being organic, for S.N. Sudheer, is an embodiment of being himself and doing what comes from within. For the television producer-turned-theatre activist, who very well understands the potential of theatre in bringing out the organic nature in humans, using it as a tool to address one of the major problems being faced by society was a well thought-out move. “We humans live to eat, but the irony is that we are least bothered about producing what we need to eat. So, why complain when our food is pesticide-laden? The fact of the matter is that introducing new reforms to revive the agricultural sector, urging people to reduce the use of pesticides and propagating organic farming are just temporary solutions to make people aware of the severity of the situation. Change will happen only if it happens from within, and when people themselves take initiative for the same,” says Sudheer, who, along with a few like-minded people, has formed Wide Inspiration, Wide aspiration (WIWA), in order to implement what he believes.

The concept of Organic Theatre revolves around the idea of brushing up the tradition and folk culture that has been a part of our lives, but has lost its sheen over the years. Sudheer, along with the volunteers of WIWA, has travelled to places like Chengal and Vellarada in Thiruvananthapuram district and also the tribal areas of Idukki. They have successfully emerged winners and have formed a culture in these places, which makes people understand the need for producing one’s own food. Elaborating on how they implemented the concept, Sudheer says, “We started the initiative at Vellarada. It has been an agrarian village for years and therefore I knew that every person there would definitely have something to contribute towards the cause. A push was required, which was provided by us. We took the initiative to gather the villagers and bring them all together for a discussion. We were surprised to see the spectrum that the villagers were talking about. They talked about different crops and how they were sown and harvested, methods to plough the fields, what kind of pests would infest the crops and the natural remedies to get rid of them. In addition to this, the discussions were taken to the next level with people talking about the folk culture associated with farming. Harvest songs, songs that were sung while sowing the seeds, stories about the various hurdles that they had to overcome and many more. These discussions acted as the fertile land for organic farming to be adopted as the means of producing food and for the revival of the organic art that was given the form of a play, which was presented by real heroes of the story on the harvest festival day.”





Sudheer also got to know about Kadampan Moothan, who, according to the farmers, was a supernatural being entrusted with the task of protecting farmers, providing them with the energy to work and cheering them for working hard. Sudheer, therefore, thought of creating such a character and it is Kadampan Moothan, who goes to villages with his inspiring song of the soil, and the people who harvested food in the soil to make the farmers realise their talents and willpower. His song is about the never-give up mentality of a farmer who does everything possible to start farming on a land that was immersed in floods, destroying every bit of hard work put into growing the crop. His song is about every farmer’s perseverance. Kadampan Moothan dressed in a quirky costume made of natural products, a mask and head gear made of straw has now become the icon of organic theatre.

However, things were not easy for Sudheer. He kept on approaching the authorities since 2013, explaining his vision and about the impact he hopes the initiative would create. He had to return home, disappointed. However, it was in April 2016 that Sudheer and his team found success when two acres of land in Vellarada was taken on lease and the WIWA team became successful in persuading the people to adopt organic farming along with exploring the culture associated with it, which in turn resulted in a well-planned and directed play. Initially, the attempt of farming at Vellarada was a failure with crops getting destroyed in floods. But eventually, with the help of NABARD, the villagers began farming in December the same year. When asked about an incident that he still remembers from the workshops he has organised, Sudheer says that the experience of associating with the tribespeople of Idukki district was exhilarating. “We got to know a lot about their farming methods and the dense culture that these people have. Their traditions and approach towards things were very different and I feel that there is nothing more organic than the way they live their lives. I am glad we could also introduce the concept of empowerment among them,” he concludes.

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