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Experimenting with heights

Kinu Kou deals with complex realities of the lives of dwarfs

What is the most likely source of dilemma that a young man or woman might be confronted with while searching for a partner? Physical looks? Or maybe his or her social standing? Background may be another reason. But I am sure that height of the would-be partner is never a dilemma for someone searching for his or her better half. And yet, this is one of the many issues that often find members of the physically handicapped dwarf community in a quandary.

This and many other such issues dealing with the joys, sufferings, dreams and complex realities of dwarfs were brought to the forefront in Pabitra Rabha’s latest play Kinu Kou, that was staged to a highly enthusiastic audience in Rabindra Bhavan on Monday evening. The play was a result of a month-long workshop conducted by Pabitra Baruah in Tangla – a small town in BTC’s Udalguri district.

Talking about the play, Pabita Rabha – a pass out from the National School of Drama in 2003 – said, “The play reveals the darkness imposed on this inferior section of society and questions the so-called distinction between perfection and odd ones. The human civilization is, no doubt, progressing but the community of dwarfs still remain away from the sunshine.”

Lights and laughter thus become the natural motifs around which the play revolves, bringing out the internal soul and basic instinct of these underprivileged people. While light can also produce deep and dark shadows, laughter too may at time be translated into heinous mockery. An interesting concept, which the director has dealt in a skilled manner, ensuring that it moves without a jerk. The beautiful costumes and the imaginative props have further lifted the production to higher aesthetic levels.

The story behind the play is equally interesting. Pabitra’s theatre group – Dapon – had brought together thirty dwarfs a month back in a bid to hone their skills and make their realise that they are inferior to none. “I have seen these people becoming victims of negligence and humiliation for no fault of theirs. It is very unfortunate that they feel shy to even come out of their homes despite being equally talented like normal people. Three years back, our theatre group decided to do something for the dwarfs in whatever way possible. It started with an intention to guide them in the various ways of life. Moreover, we wanted to let people know how traumatic life is for them.”

Rabha further says, “Our so-called project is to make the dwarfs physically, mentally and philosophically tuned for the corporate world. We want to expose the self-pity inside this discriminated human being who is lonely and terrified of emptiness.”

The play, which will now be staged in various parts of the country, however, is just a small step in Dapon’s efforts towards the psycho-physical development of the dwarf community. “The workshop and its modules have been designed to improve both the physical and mental power of the dwarf community, to help make them fit for survival. Besides vocational and theatre training, we are also organizing interaction programmes between the dwarfs and socio-cultural organizations so as to develop their powers of interaction.”

The amateur theatre group also plans to establish a permanent Physically Challenged Citizen (DWARF) village in the future.