Praja Natya Mandali, on the occasion of the 150th year of the 1st freedom struggle movement, coinciding with the 60th year of India's independence and Shahid Bhagat Singh's 100th birth anniversary, is organising the 1857 Sangrama Sphoorthi Utsavalu from 1st to 3rd August, at the Ravindra Bharati. To commemorate the ignition of the first revolutionary freedom struggle movement, three patriotic stage plays and four revolutionary street plays will be staged during the 3-day festival.
Today, the third and final day, a stage play Palegar is being staged in the auditorium of the Ravindra Bharati. The play is directed by Devi and is being staged by the Praja Natya Mandali of Kurnool. Palegar was the title for a class of territorial administrative cum military chiefs appointed by the Nayak rulers of South India (notably Nayaks of Madurai and the Kakatiya dynasty) during the 16th to 18th centuries.
When the districts of Rayalaseema were ceded to British rule, the local palegars refused to share the revenue with the British. One such palegar was Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy of Koikuntla, Rayalaseema, appointed by the Vijayanagar dynasty. He revolted against the East India Company and fought the company forces for 3 years, with the help of his loyal army of 5,000. The British collector in Rayalaseema, Thomas Monroe, captured Uyyalawada illegally and hung him publicly. His capitated head was hung at the Vossamkota fort for 30 years.
Praja Natya Mandali was formed in 1943, to oppose monarchy, colonisation and fascism. Since then, it has been adopting peaceful methods to demonstrate against agricultural famine, slavery, the problems of the poor and helpless farmers, and landlord atrocities against farmers. All these are highlighted by way of street plays, folk songs and dances, and poems.
Today, the association has more than 20,000 artistes from 1,140 troupes, including poets Varavara Rao and Gaddar. It is the biggest troupe of performing artistes in the country and probably the world. At present, it is concentrating on worker problems, farmer suicides, coolie wages, atrocities against women, child labor, caste division and rural health.
Please contact R Ramesh, General Secretary of the Hyderabad wing of Praja Natya Mandali, at 2762-6246/94900-98059 for further details.