Person of the Year 2014
Vol 5 Issue 50, Dec 12 - 18, 2014
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

With over 60 shows, Sankalpa has used theatre to prepare convicts for a better life

   By  Marianne de Nazareth
   Bangalore
22 Dec 2014
Posted 15-Mar-2012
Vol 3 Issue 11

Picture a burly, foul mouthed convict, condemned to life imprisonment for murder, roaming freely in your town as part of a theatre group and then returning to his cell along with prison officials after the show is over.

It seems quite unrealistic that such a thing can happen in this age. But Sankalpa, a theatre group, which has its head office in Mysore, works with prisoners and trains them to perform in plays.

Hulugappa Kattimani believes theatre can be used to reform prisoners (Photos: Saggere Radhakrishna)

Hulugappa Kattimani, the director of Sankalpa, who has rich experience in theatre, strongly believes that theatre is a powerful medium for entertainment and also a vehicle for social change

Sankalpa has been conducting theatre workshops in jails across the state since 1997. These workshops focus on Yoga, meditation, painting, traditional folk arts like kolata, kamsale and other creative learning.

Thirteen years ago, Kattimani studied drama under noted doyen of the Kannada stage – BV Karanth.

Once, when they had gone to enact a play in the Bellary central jail, Kattimani realized that training the prisoners in theatre could change their attitude to life and lead them on a reformative path.

“These are human beings who need to be brought back to the main stream of society,” says Kattimani, “and what better way than use theatre to help them back to a life they can be proud of.”

In 1997 Kattimani conducted theatre camps in the Bellary, Mysore and Bangalore jails. The trained prisoners soon started acting in his plays. So far, he has staged more than 60 plays with them, including that of Shakespeare’s and several written by Indian playwrights.

Many lives are changing. “I told SV Ramesh, a nasty convicted murderer that if he wanted to play Gandhiji, he had to mend his ways and clean up his language. He was a very difficult and uncouth man, but after playing the roles of Gandhi and Basavana, a 12th century reformer, the man stopped his customary crude speech and became a changed man,” reveals Kattimani.

“He has also turned a vegetarian and walks barefoot in the steps of the Mahatma.”

In early March, Sankalpa conducted a Drama Festival called 'From one Jail to another '. During the four day festival, the following plays were staged: ‘King Lear’ by inmates of Mysore Central Jail, ‘Ward no. 6’ by inmates of Bangalore Central Jail, ‘Gokaranada Goudashani’by inmates of Dharwad Central Jail, and ‘Shivaratri’ by inmates of Belgaum Central Jail.

“Special effort was made in selection of the plays, which were all connected to lives of the inmates in some way,” says Kattimani.

Hulugappa Kattimani

It’s been tough for Kattimani and Sankalpa to find funds for the project, but senior IPS officer Gopal Hosur has helped them. Some institutions such as the State Bank of Mysore and the Kannada Culture Department support them now.

It has not been easy going for Kattimani, but the 45 year old, has been supported in his endeavour by his wife who is also a theater person.

Their efforts are bearing fruit. Many prisoners have in fact fallen in love – with theatre.

That’s the power of art, as a journalist discovered when he asked an inmate after a performance in Kerala, “You are not handcuffed. You had a good chance to escape. Why did you not choose to do so?”

The inmate had responded, “What a question to ask. If I run away who will do my role?”

Take a bow, Kattimani!
 



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   


You might also like:

An acid test

A victim of an acid attack, Sonali Mukherjee, now hopes to regain her eyesight and also have her face reconstructed, thanks to the media and an NGO. But the law does not view ‘acid attacks’ as serious and lethal, feels Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Read More

Saving sparrows

That the number of the humble house sparrow is dwindling prompted Mohammed Esmail Dilawar to do something about its conservation. Rama Devi Menon gathers details about Nature Forever Society

Read More
Stories on Innovations & Innovators
THE LEAD STAR
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Saving children

Starting with a night shelter for children of sex workers, Prerana has come a long way providing support to women stuck in Mumbai’s red light district. Kavita Kanan Chandra retraces Priti Patkar’s 28-year journey that has saved many a child

Read More

Good ball

To counter ‘guns and drugs’, a culture that he saw abroad, Chetan Misra mentors children through football, which he believes is a tool for social and holistic development. Through ‘TheFootballLink’, he promotes the game, says Partho Burman

Read More

Bringing water

By reviving a traditional irrigation system, using modern techniques, an NGO, Gramya Vikash Manch, has channeled water to three parched districts of Assam, raising hopes of a bumper harvest

Read More

Goals to score

From behind the veil, a group of Muslim girls in Mumbra dreamt big and have realised it. First, they learnt playing football, against all odds, and have set up a club. Now they have plans for intellectual pursuits, says Kamayani Bali-Mahabal

Read More

A terminator

Learning that his mother’s swollen legs were caused by mosquitoes, Ignatius Orwin Noronha always wanted to exterminate the blood sucker. Now, he has developed MozziQuit, which promises to make India mosquito free by 2019, says Partho Burman

Read More

Height of concern

From a school teacher in Gurgaon to a benefactor supporting 38,000 students in Ladakh, Sujata Sahu has trekked great heights. Partho Burman tells us about her 17,000ft Foundation that engages volunteer-tourists to help students in the hills

Read More

Martyr’s wife

After losing her husband in an armed conflict in Kashmir, Subhashini Vasanth embarked on a mission to help war widows. A journey with twists and turns has now enabled her to make a difference in the lives of many women, says Tisha Srivastav

Read More

Fruits of labour

‘Pazhamudir Nilayam’, a small venture in 1950s by two brothers in Coimbatore, has grown into a multi-city vegetable and fruit business. Next, the company plans to take orders over phone and internet for home delivery, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

Social technology

When technologists with social conscience innovate, society benefits by getting amazing products that change the life of common people. Bhanu Priya Vyas writes about four innovations showcased at the recent India Social Good Summit in Delhi

Read More

Motorcycle diary

An adventurous ride on a 500 cc motorcycle from Chandigarh took Samiksha Bali Dutta not just to her dream destination, Ladakh, but also helped realise a dream of turning a professional rider

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.