A 20-member strong group of youngsters, Tapori Bandra, performs street plays across the city to spread awareness about issues that matter. Members of the group, all residents of various slums in Bandra, are in the age group of 14 and 24 years. The team members met each other for the first time at a theatre workshop conducted by Kherwadi Social Welfare Association in 2011. Soon after completing the course, the team founded Tapori Bandra.
Arif Shaikh, 20, a member of the group, says, “A lot of people call us tapori, just because we live in slums. We want to change the meaning of the word. For us, tapori stands for Theatre Arts Performance Open for Rahivasi Interaction. We believe that street plays are the best way to attract attention and send out a message. We get feedback on the spot and that helps us improve with every performance.”
The members of the group come up with a topic for their performances and put the entire show together. Tapori Bandra even performed alongside theatre professionals Heeba Shah and Denzil Smith at the Pundalik Arts Festival held at St Andrew’s Auditorium, Bandra, in October last year. Most of the group members are still studying and wish to have a career in theatre. A number of the group’s performances revolve around problems faced by women and child sexual abuse.
Mohammed Sadiq, 21, another member of the group, says, “We put together a performance called ‘Bhaago Mat, Duniya Ko Badalo’, based on the Delhi gang rape all over Mumbai. That play was performed over 30 times due to popular demand. We saw how involved the audience was as we were performing. That has been our most memorable performance yet.” The group meets for rehearsals for two hours everyday. Aquila Khan, the facilitator of the group, says, “Initially, many children backed out of Tapori Bandra because their parents weren’t happy with them being a part of the group. Parents also thought performing street plays was a waste of time. The children found a solution to the problem with a performance they called ‘Aap Ka Kya Kehna Hai’, which praised parents. Since then, the children have received support from their parents.”
Local organisations and NGOs invite Tapori Bandra to perform for them. For every performance, the group charges Rs 2,000. They use the money for costumes and props. The group has put up more than 200 shows, so far. “We pick the place for performance ourselves, and then seek permission to perform there from the local police,” says Shaikh. The group puts up shows on the 16th and 23rd of every month. They next performance will be based on the issue of violence against women and will be held on July 16.
Tapori Bandra can be reached on https://www.facebook.com/tapori.bandra?fref=ts