A Special Ode to Dilli

As lights were dimmed on the stage at the National School of Drama (NSD) auditorium on Wednesday night, 45 differently-abled children and young adults — between the age of six and 25 — took the audience back to the times of Lord Krishna, Mughal emperor Akbar and the 1857 Uprising. Dastaan-E-Dilli was the concluding performance of NSD's 11-day Jashn-E-Bachpan festival.

The play, co-directed by Delhi-based theatre director Feisal Alkazi and Radhika M Alkazi, who is the founder of the NGO Aarth-Astha, opened with the performers enacting the childhood tales of Lord Krishna and the gopis from mythology. After this, the scene shifted to the meteoric rise of Razia Sultan, the only woman ruler of the Sultanate during the Mughal period. Then, dressed as sepoys — in red full-sleeve shirts and black trousers — the artistes recreated the freedom march that took place during the 1857 Uprising. By the end of the 80-minute performance, these special artistes had won the heart of audiences. Feisal, who has directed several documentaries and plays on the issues of disability, said the children practised for this performance for two months, even during the nights, since most of them had to attend school in the day. In fact, some had to go against the wishes of their families in order to be part of the play.

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