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Meri Aawaz, Mera Vote — Sapne aur Chunautiyan – The Street Play Competition at ComplexCity 6.0

By March 14, 2024No Comments

The annual street play competition organized by YUVA provides a platform for youth groups from different communities and colleges to showcase their talent and start a dialogue on city issues through the medium of street plays. This year’s competition at ComplexCity 6.0 had the theme of ‘Meri Aawaz, Mera Vote — Sapne aur Chunautiyan (My Voice, My Vote — Dreams and Challenges)’, intending to spark conversations on the state of democracy in our country ahead of the upcoming general elections.

The street play competition is a part of YUVA’s annual urban festival ComplexCity, which celebrates diversity in the city and encourages different city stakeholders to come together, dialogue and reflect on how they can co-create an inclusive city. YUVA has a rich tradition of nurturing the street play culture in Mumbai, and through ComplexCity street play competitions, participants engage in constructive reflection and dialogue on the urban, and better understand their city through their efforts and each other’s perspectives.

Street Play Performance at ComplexCity 6.0
Street Play Performance at ComplexCity 6.0

Eleven teams from various communities and colleges across Mumbai showed up with great energy after many days of practice. The two judges for the competition were from the social sector and film/TV backgrounds.

The play performed by members of Bal Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (BASS) from Lallubhai Compound in Mankhurd aimed at drawing attention to the cycle of false promises that recurs during every election season. Promises are made and then broken, leaving the status quo unchanged. Government priorities are often misaligned, and people are sold dreams that are never realized once a certain political party comes to power. This puts democracy in peril. The judiciary and media are also at risk of being compromised.

Another group, the Kalakar group from Jai Hind College, performed a play titled ‘Buddhi (Intelligence)’ which borrowed from Hitler’s story to depict the dangers of electing a leader who lies to garner votes, operates via dictatorial rule, and works to oppress minorities. The play showcased how political appeasement can unite people instead of focusing on their pertinent issues of infrastructure, development, livelihoods, and more. 

Street Play Performance at ComplexCity 6.0
Street Play Performance at ComplexCity 6.0

The event was held on 11th February 2024 in a public compound alongside the main road in Jogeshwari, which provided open access for any passersby to come and have a seat. The audience collected organically, standing against the railing and watching the plays with heightened interest.

A bus conductor was also among the live audience, having some free time before his bus’s departure. In between the performances, he called out to pedestrians, asking if they wanted to take the bus to the station. Despite his divided attention, he observed the plays with great interest. He said, ‘This is an important event for the younger generation. It spreads awareness and information about the state of politics, and helps us become more informed citizens. I even watched the plays here last year.’

There was a group named ‘Help To Each Other’ which consisted of blind participants. The group was well-coordinated and focused on discussing the kind of candidate that should be voted for in the upcoming elections, as well as the rights and responsibilities of voters. 

Street Play Performance at ComplexCity 6.0
Street Play Performance at ComplexCity 6.0

The group from Svitech Foundation was the third runner-up while the BASS group were the second runners-up. BASS has been performing since 2014, and this was their third time participating in ComplexCity. One of the members, Rupesh, expressed that this platform has provided them with an excellent opportunity to showcase their talent and express themselves. He also mentioned that such platforms are necessary to reach out to diverse audiences in an engaging format, build contacts and networks in the theater and other fields, and receive feedback on performances. Maintaining a circle where people remain connected is also an added benefit.

The all-girls SNDT Malad NSS group of MD Shah Mahila College won the first prize in the competition. The girls were proud of their achievement and considered it a testament to girl power. Nandini Sharma, a member of the group, expressed that they did not feel like it was a competition. All participants were united in their efforts to raise awareness and make a positive impact together.

As the event drew to a close, Ravindra Waikar, a Member of the Legislative Assembly representing Jogeshwari East, made an appearance to address the audience. In his speech, he emphasized the crucial role that voting and community engagement play in shaping a better society. He stressed the importance of citizens exercising their right to vote and actively participating in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.

Overall, the event was successful in achieving its goal of initiating a conversation on democracy and urging individuals to think beyond the conceptual understanding of topics. It aimed to bring to the fore the multi-layered implications of choosing a leader. It was uplifting to witness numerous young people coming together and sharing their perspectives and ideas on issues that impact our society.

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