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After all...

ROMESH CHANDER

"Life Hi To Hai" tries to find out what life is all about.



BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN A scene from "Life Hi To Hai".

One of the largest chain of schools in India, Ryan International schools, . having18 schools spread across the city, is perhaps the only one in Delhi that offers year-round theatre and performing arts activity to its students. What is more for the last six years their schools in trans-Yamuna and Vasant Kunj have been organising a three-day International Children's Festival of Performing Arts. The just concluded sixth festival was indeed a great success from all points of view like international participation as also the general standard of presentation. More than 1000 children participated from 10 countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Singapore, Turkey, Poland, Japan and India participated in the festival held at Sri Ram Centre packed with children on all days. The general standard of all the presentations particularly the dances was very good. The Indian contribution "Life Hi to Hai" presented by Ryan International School, Rohini Delhi was based on different sources like Arun Singh's play "Bolta Gadha" that itself was based on Krishan Chander's novel "Ek Gadhe Ki Wapsi" and finally, we are told, it is the contribution of the cast and the teachers that gave a shape to the script that included 10 beautiful songs.

What is life?

The play tries to answer the question `what is life?' The children have different answers: Life is work, it is study, life is tension, life is joy and much more. The children meet a donkey that can speak like us humans. Two candidates for the panchayat elections try to use the donkey in their campaign. It refuses to talk but only brays. The donkey is thrown out of the village and on his way to the city he meets many people who all try to use him for their own ends. Some wanted him for a stage show and others to earn dollars by exploiting his talent and of course the media wanted to do a story on him. And so it goes on. After going through different experiences that he thought were strange, the donkey is fed up and he asks God to take away his power of speech for he had felt the human pain but could do nothing about it.

To bring the point home that life is not all dark but there is also fun and happiness but to understand joy and happiness we must also look at the other side of the coin and for this the director introduces many tricks of the trade like questions on what is life, songs about the problems the children face and to show that mankind is divided in two - the good and the bad - the director brings in a human sized puppet dressed in black on one side and white on the other. The director makes excellent use of songs not only to project what the play was saying but also to comment and carry the story forward.

To manage a cast of 300 children is in itself a big job and the credit for this must go to a group of teachers who worked backstage and helped to achieve split-second timing. Credit must also go to dance compositions that involved the entire cast and never allowed anyone to be left out.

In the last three-four Utkarsh Marwah, the director, has come a long way and has done a very good job in drawing the best from the cast: but unfortunately the sound decibels both in songs and music were far too high so much so that intelligibility was lost and sound turned into noise, then again, the gadgetry like smoke machine seemed like a toy in the director's hand and its frequent use at places was totally misplaced.

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