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Onto the Stage - Slighted Souls and other stage and radio plays   By:

Onto the Stage - Slighted Souls and other stage and radio plays by BS Murthy

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.]




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