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Onto the Stage : ‘Slighted Souls’ and other stage and radio plays

By Murthy, BS

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Book Id: WPLBN0003437423
Format Type: PDF eBook:
File Size: 5.19 MB
Reproduction Date: 6/1/2014

Title: Onto the Stage : ‘Slighted Souls’ and other stage and radio plays  
Author: Murthy, BS
Language: English
Subject: Stage plays, Radio plays, Social drama, political plays, Drama, Theater, Literature, Indian writing, Indian fiction,, Love, Romance, Sexual harassment at work polace, Vishakha Judgment, Old flame, Ambition, , India drama, Indian stage plays, Indian theater, Indian social drama, Naxalites, Downtrodden, Armed rebellion,
Collections: Plays, Authors Community, Political Sociology, Social Sciences, Literature, Political Science, Sociology, Most Popular Books in China
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Publisher: Self Imprint
Member Page: BS Murthy


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Murthy, B. B. (2014). Onto the Stage : ‘Slighted Souls’ and other stage and radio plays. Retrieved from

This is a compendium of the author’s Indian stage and radio plays: "Slighted Souls" is a poignant love story set in rural Telangana, beset with feudal exploitation of the downtrodden dalits. Besides forcing the dalits to toil in the fields as bonded labor without impunity, the land owning doras had no qualms in reducing the womenfolk of this ilk as sex slaves in the gadis, which results in an armed rebellion engulfing two young lovers. "Men at work on Women at work" is a tragic-comic episode depicting the fallout of sexual harassment at the workplace in the Indian urban setting with its traditional cultural underpinnings. "Castle of Despair", built on the slippery ground of man's innate urge for one-upmanship, portrays its facade of falsity on the grand stage of human tragedy. The radio play, "Love on Hold", lends voice to the felt anxieties of a man and a woman as their old flame gets rekindled and the dilemmas of possession faced by the couple in a conservative cultural background.

‘Onto the Stage” was born out of my conviction that for fiction to impact readers, it should be the soulful rendering of characters rooted in their native soil but not the hotchpotch of local and foreign caricatures sketched on a hybrid canvas.

Slighted Souls - A political stage play Scene – 1 Voice Over: Under the British Raj in India, the self-indulging Nizams of Hyderabad abdicated the administration of their vast principality to doralu, the village heads, letting them turn the areas under their domain into their personal fiefdoms. While the successive Nizams were obsessed with building palaces and acquiring jewelry, the village heads succeeded in ushering in an oppressive era of tyrannical order. Acting as loose cannon from their palatial houses called gadis, the doralu succeeded in foisting an inimical feudal order upon the downtrodden dalits. Besides making these dalits toil for them as cheap labor without impunity, the doralu had no qualms in making vassals out of the hapless women folk. What with the police patels and the revenue patwaris in nexus with the landed gentry and the moneyed shaukars making a common cause with the doralu in their unabated exploitation, their sub-human condition ensured that the dalits were distressed economically, degraded socially and debased morally. Ironically, lending the privileged few the muscle power to perpetrate the inimical social order were their henchmen from the other backward classes. Moreover, given the British political pragmatism of an indifference to the Indian caste conundrum the downtrodden dalits had nowhere to run for cover. Though the merger of their province with the Union of India brought the curtains down on the Nizams’ two-hundred year misrule, the exploitation of the rural dalits by the dora-patel-patwari nexus continued unabated. And that led to the formation of 'communes' as part of a peasant movement in July 1948 under the Telangana Struggle that didn’t take off any way. On the other hand as the seeds of egalitarianism began to take roots in the urban Indian soil, in time, these “slighted souls” too began to envision the dawn of an equitable era for them. However, the nascent upward mobility of the downtrodden was at odds with the vested interests of the feudal order, and to nip the dalit moral assertiveness in the bud, the ‘axis of evil’ saw to it that such were brutalized to make an example of them. “Slighted Souls” scripts the life of the downtrodden of Rampur nearly a decade after the famous but failed peasant struggle of Telangana. Making cohorts with Muthyal Rao the dora in oppressing its dalits are Papa Rao the Police Patel, Rami Reddy the Patwari, Papi Reddy the landlord and Shaukar Suryam the moneylender. Beginning with the life and times of Yellaiah and his wife Mallamma this play unfolds the urge of the deprived to unyoke themselves, and the desperation of the privileged to rein in them. [Curtains up: Mallamma sits in front of her thatched hut in the dalit mohalla weaving a bamboo basket. Enter: Yellaiah, and seeing him, she goes into the hut to fetch some water for him, and he takes over the work.] Mallamma [Back with a glass of water]: Why make a mess of it maava. Yellaiah [Taking over the glass]: Take it I’m giving them their due. Mallamma: I wonder how they’re harming you. Yellaiah [Having empted the glass]: Aren’t they harsh on my darling’s delicate hands? Mallamma [Taking back the glass]: I’m glad you’re still fond of your old woman. Yellaiah: Who said you’re old dear. I’m ever scared that some dora or a patel might grab my Malli. Mallamma [Taking the bamboo work]: You know it would never be the case. Yellaiah: Well but still. Mallamma: Leave alone the patels and the patwaris, would the dora ever forget that incident in a hurry? Besides, I’m behind the bamboo curtain, am I not? Yellaiah: Well who can forget that potential tragedy turned farce? [He laughs heartily]. But still it hurts to let you toil day and night. Mallamma: So be it, till our Narsimma becomes a big officer. Till then, the fact that you care keeps it going. Yellaiah: Where is Sarakka? Mallamma: Wonder why she hasn’t turned up yet. Yellaiah [Making a move to get up]: Why not I better check up at her school. Mallamma [Holding him back]: Isn’t it enough that you’ve been toiling like a mule all day long. Yellaiah: Why their lot is any day better dear. They are well-fed by peddollu and attended by doctors. See, they’ve doctors to look after them but we’ve to put with the quacks. I hear even their lives are insured these days. Mallamma: Well, mules have a price tag on them, but what about us. Don’t dalits come cheaper by the dozen? [Enter: Maisaiah on his way in a hurry.] Yellaiah: O Maisaiah, where are you running to now? Maisaiah: Running around on Shaukar’s errands, oh, how I’ve forgot about memsaab. She said she has some work for me before he returned from Warangal. [Exit: Maisaiah.] Yellaiah: Why, their women too boss over our men, don’t they? How I wish our Narsimma won’t have to put up with all that. Mallamma: Why should he as Pantulayya says he’s bright. He feels the same way about our Sarakka, and Renuka. But I think Renuka is better than both. Yellaiah: Don’t I know you’re always partial towards your brother’s daughter. Mallamma: It’s as if I’m a stepmother to your kids. Yellaiah: Why get hurt dear, I was just joking. But still our kids are hot heads while she carries a clear head? If not for you, wouldn’t they have become rebels by now? Mallamma: Whatever, once he sets his mind; Narsimma is not the one to waver. And Sarakka too is developing the same traits, isn’t she? Yellaiah: Well, how you’ve been drumming him not to get distracted from his studies. Mallamma: Why not? You know how we’re undone by being unpad. I want all three of them to be well educated. I’ve been hoping that an educated Renuka makes an ideal wife for our Narsimma. But sadly vadina seems to have developed second thoughts about giving her to him. Yellaiah: Don’t I see Anasuya is rooting for Saailu, her good for nothing brother. Well, we can only hope that your brother Yadagiri puts his foot down for once. Mallamma: But can he do that? Any way, there is still a long way to go. Let’s see what the future has in store for them. Yellaiah: What a wretched life ours is Malli? We don’t even have a say in our own affairs. It’s Papi Reddy Patel who’s behind all this. And don’t I see his game plan? Mallamma: Don’t they say woman is woman’s enemy. Let’s hope Renuka’s fate prevails over vadina’s whims. Yellaiah: How I wish that happens. Mallamma: I’m quite hopeful, more so as times are changing. Yellaiah: Wish I’ve your strength of belief Malli. Mallamma: Maava, if you want change, you’ve got to dream about it. Yellaiah: How’re we to dream Malli, when life itself is a nightmare? Oh, how the peddollu have reduced us. [Enter Sarakka with a slate and a few school books, and collapses in front of them.] Yellaiah: Malli quick, fetch some water for Sarakka. [Even as Mallamma brings in some water, Yellaiah takes Sarakka in his lap. After the mother sprinkles some water on her, the girl gets up and greedily drinks from the tumbler.] Mallamma: What happened to you my child? Sarakka: I felt thirsty on the way amma. But they didn’t allow me to drink from their well. Yellaiah: They refuse water to a thirsty child! Oh, how lowly are these peddollu. Mallamma: Well, their well is full of frogs, yet they think it gets polluted if we drink from it. What an irony? Yellaiah: Why, being a frog in the well is better than the bane of being a dalit. Mallamma: Oh, why did God make it so inhuman for us? Yellaiah: And see their gall; they say its God’s own will. Isn’t it like rubbing salt on our wounds? Mallamma: He must be a cruel God to say that. But did He say that? Sarakka: We’re dearer to God, that’s why Gandhiji said we’re harijan. We’ve that lesson in our class. Yellaiah: If only Gandhiji lived long enough to make it true for us. Sarakka: Maastaaru says God helps only those who help themselves. Mallamma: Who knows another mahatma might be waiting in the wings to pick up the threads? Yellaiah: Having made us anguthachaps all along, mercifully, they’re letting our children study these days. Mallamma: Well, grudgingly. Whatever, it’s going to be the turning point for us. [Enter a tired Narsimma with his schoolbag] Yellaiah: How our poor Narsimma has to walk all those miles. If only we’ve a high school here. Mallamma: Why’re you so dull my boy? Narsimma: I couldn’t go to school amma. Yellaiah: Why what’s the matter? Narsimma: I was crossing the gadi and the dorasani held me. As their Maali fell ill, she made me work all day in the garden. Mallamma: Why, when it’s julum on us, the dorasanlu score no less. Narsimma: And all the while she was yelling, Narsiga, Narsiga, Narsiga. It’s as if she can’t get my name right. Yellaiah: Well, they think we’re not entitled to our name even. Mallamma to Narsimma: Bear all that for now my boy. Once you’re a B.A., all will call you Narsimma. Yellaiah to Mallamma: I’ll sell my shirt to make him a B.A., and it’s my word to you. [There is a commotion outside, and Sarakka exits.] Sarakka [Reenters]: Maisaiah mama is being carried on a cart. Shaukar Saab is also there. Yellaiah: Let me find out what’s the matter. Mallamma: I’ll also come. Lachamma might need me. [Exit: Yellaiah and Mallamma leaving Narsimma and Sarakka. Curtains down.]

Table of Contents
Copyright page Dedication, Book contents - Stage Plays: 1. Slighted Souls 2. Men at work on Women at work 3. Castle of Despair Radio Play: 1.Love on Hold


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