In last seven months, Sikander Ali along with his five friends has been roaming the streets of Mumbai and presenting their play to spread awareness on cancer. His friends, who stay in Andheri are struggling actors but decided to channelise their talent by conducting street plays on cancer.
Their group is called ‘GAATHA’ and they have so far performed more than six street plays and every play has a different cancer story to tell.
Thirty year old, Kumar Vindra is one of the actors in the group who lost his mother to cancer said, “I was a six-year-old then, when I lost my mother. She had throat cancer. I felt my mother could have been alive if we had not ignored her disease. Early diagnosis and treatment would have saved her,” said Vindra, who hails from Azamgarh district, Uttar Pradesh.
He added that while he couldn’t do anything then, he now wants to spread awareness on cancer so that no other young ‘Vindra’ loses his mother.
Another member of this drama group shared his aunt’s struggle in fighting stomach cancer.
“My maternal aunt was in the last stage of stomach cancer as she was diagnosed late. If person is aware about their symptoms they can immediately consult the doctor. That’s what we are trying to do through our street plays, which is based on the symptoms, causes and prevention of cancer,” said Mukesh Kumar, who hails from Shahjahanpur district, Uttar Pradesh.
These young actors who all are in their thirties and came together, belong to different parts of Uttar Pradesh. They have organised their street plays in several parts of the city in the last seven months. To make sure that their audience doesn’t get bored with information regarding cancer, they combine their own humour, comedy, funny dialogues along with Bollywood songs to convey their information in a lighter vein.
“Cancer itself is a depressing disease and the fear and misconceptions makes it worse. So, our aim is to convey the informative message of cancer in a simplistic form of dialogues and entertainment. The tagline of our group is “Manava Jile Re” to encourage people to live a healthy, happy and positive life. From the last several months of doing street plays we were able to attract large crowds towards knowing about this serious disease,” said Sikandar Ali, who hails from Delhi.
Adding to this Ali said, “We chose street plays because it’s the best medium to reach the masses, we can directly interact with the people and involve them in our play. Street plays are more impactful than any other virtual medium, especially for serious health or social issues”.
Talking about preparing the content for the plays Kumar said, “We don’t write our script but the co-ordination between all of us makes our content rich. Maybe because each one of has a common motive to make people familiar with cancer. But we make sure that whatever information about cancer we give through our plays is cross checked by expert doctors”.
Kumar also said, “We focus according to the prevalence of type of cancer like breast cancer among women is high, whereas oral and mouth cancer is more common among men. Along with this the importance of a healthy lifestyle are part of our street plays”.
Speaking about increasing oral and mouth cancer incidents, Salish Thrived who hails from Shahjahanpur district, Uttar Pradesh said, “Today’s young generation is succumbing to smoking and tobacco products. That’s why they are more likely to develop cancer. We wanted to make them aware them too, as they are the future of our country”.
Describing cancer cases among the younger generation as disturbing, Dr Shishir Shetty, who is an oncologist at Fortis Vashi said, “I monthly receive two to three cases of colon cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer in the age group of 25 and below. All this is because of their unhealthy lifestyle – smoking, junk food etc. This is really disturbing”.
All the members of this group are struggling actors, who came to Mumbai to fulfil their dream of becoming an actor. Though they all are still unsure about their own dream, but for the betterment of society and to defeat cancer they desperately waiting for one good opportunity.