Jao, apne logon ko batao

(Go, tell your people)

Concept and original skit: Ravi Kuchimanchi and Lata PM, Sept 1999

Adaptation: AID-Ann Arbor and party

(The script of the skit is mainly transcribed from a video of the above adaptation that was performed by AID-Ann Arbor and Party at the AID-US Conference in Boston, Mass., May 2000.)

Transcript: Vinay Kumar, Ravishankar and Aniruddha Vaidya


[OPENING SCENE]

(Mohan  sleeping. Enter Sutradhar.)

Sutradhar (Narrator): Mumbai! Home to about 15 million people. The dawn comes on this sleeping city. We take this moment to peek into a typical Mumbai bedroom. Our hero, a simple 25 year young man, a typical Indian young man, Mohan ''The-Common-Man'' Mumbaikar, is sleeping peacefully dreaming happy dreams about Aishwarya Rai. His happiness is going to be stolen very much from under his nose in a few minutes as he wakes up.

(Enter sign "Typical house." Enter Dudhwala on bicycle.)

Dudhwala: Dudh! Dudh!

(Enter Paperwala.)

Paperwala: Aaj ki taaja khabar! Aaj ki taaja khabar!

(Hits Mohan with paper. Mohan wakes up with a start.)

Mohan: I missed the 7:30 local!

(Brushes teeth while reading newspaper.)

Mohan: (Reading aloud) Medha Patkar arrested in Domkhedi. (To himself while getting ready) These crazy NBA fellows. Always agitating. Always trying for some extra publicity. (Pause) With their "Stop the Dam." Here I am in Mumbai. (Pause) Can't even get decent electricity. (Pause) Can't even get decent water. (Pause) How can we have development. (Pause) If we don't have dams. (Pause) So what if we have to relocate a few people. (Pause) We can always relocate them to a better place. (Gets ready) Will miss my train!

(Enter Rickshaw. Asks for station. Pays rickshaw-walla)

Mohan: Here's 10 rupees.

Rickshaw-wala: 7:40 Sir! Its not even 8 o'clock sir! 20% surcharge sir!

Mohan: The meter says only 9 rupees. Jaao!

(Goes into station. )

(Enter train. Enter chaiwala.)

Mohan:(to a passenger) Is this the 7:40?

Passenger: Yes.

Mohan: What! It's on time.

Announcer: Your kind attention please. All trains are running on time.

Crowd says "Ahh!" with disbelief.

Announcer: Now that I have your attention, there is an important message wired to us. Mumbai has to be evacuated in 48 hours. (Crowd exclaims "Evacuated?") Trains to all over India leave immediately.

Passenger: Are we going to leave? Where are we going to go? What does that mean?

(General commotion. Someone says "TV! TV! TV!")

(Enter TV.)

Prannoy Roy: (through TV) Good morning! This is the world this week. I am Prannoy Roy. This is breaking
news. Due to a severe lack of oxygen in cities, the Government has planned a mega-project to convert Mumbai into an evergreen forest. The project has been approved by the world bank and the ministry of environment has given its clearance. Japan is sending a massive aid to India in the form of bull-dozers and several African countries are exporting wild animals for this project. The oxygen generated from this forest will be pumped by a pipeline to various oxygen deficient cities like Ankaleshwar and Baruch, The project affected people, PAPs will receive compensation. Their sacrifice will be duly appreciated by the nation. They must evacuate Mumbai in 48 hours. Police force has been reinforced to ensure complete evacuation of Mumbai. We now go to our ace reporter Ms. Khabari who is talking to Mumbai people at this moment.

(Enter Khabari. Mohan trying to get Khabari's attention. Khabari ignores him.)

Khabari: Ms Karishma Kapoor! Did you hear about the news? What do you think about it?

Karishma: It is a big problem. I just bought my one crore mansion last week. Haven't even moved in. Lots of problems. Look at my hair, who is going to cut my hair? Where will I buy my clothes? and my two poor doggies. Who is going to talk to them? How can I pack in two days?

Khabari: Well I understand. So where were you going to relocate?

Karishma: I am thinking Switzerland. Well, it actually depends on Abhishek Bachhan. Whereever he goes ...

Khabari: Thank you.

(Mohan tries to get Khabari' s attention. Enter Bal Thakarey.)

Khabari: (to Bal Thakarey) What do you think about this new project?

Bal: (agitated) What do we think? We think that there is Pakistan's hand in this. All the Muslims in Mumbai have sucked up all the oxygen and left only carbondioxide. Our sainiks will hunt every one of these traitors and release the pure oxygen into Mumbai's air, so that, all the Hindus can breathe freely.

Khabari: Where are you and your sainiks going to move?

Bal: I am not going to move one inch from Mumbai. You know what I am doing. I am writing, I am demanding from the Prime Minister, right now,  that an oxygen usage tax should be imposed on all the Muslims of the country. After all, their Aurangzeb had taxed our bodhis, so it is only proper that we tax their oxygen usage. That's what I am going to do!

Khabari: Thank you. Dhanyawad.

(Enter Phoolan Devi with sidekick. Sidekick prevents Mohan from reaching Khabari.)

Khabari: Namaste Phoolan Devi.

Phoolan Devi: Hahn! Hahn!

Khabari: What do you think? Is the underworld getting anything from this project?

Phoolan Devi: This is very bad for business. All our ilaaka will be total empty. (to sidekick) Kyon Bhidu?
All our dhanda - chopat! Total chopat!

Khabari: So where are you moving to?

Phoolan Devi: I am thinking of something else. I heard of this Veerappan in Karnataka. He is doing kidnapping actors and smuggling sandalwood. I think I will shift into that business. Okay?

(Enter Garibpati Gaonkar.)

Khabari: Mr. Garibpati Gaonkar. So, what do you think? Living in Dharavi slums, what do you think about this proposal? Did you hear about it?

Garibpati: What can I say? I live in slum here. I will live in slum there. It does not matter to me.

(General Pandemonium. Enter Chota Leader.)

Bystander: This is total injustice. How can they do this to us?

Chota Leader: (shouts) Beheno aur Bhaiyo! We have to do something. We cannot take this anymore. This is very bad. This is Mumbai.

Garibpati: (shouts) Mumbai Bachao!

Chota Leader: That's right. I can't live anywhere but Mumbai. I was born in Mumbai , I was raised in Mumbai. I was rejected into the streets of Mumbai. How can anybody live anywhere but Mumbai? We have to do something. We have to organize dharna. We have to do rail roko, we have to do road roko.

(Crowd agreeing. Enter Policeman.)

Policeman: (dispersing crowd) Kya ho rahaa hain idhar? What's going on there?

Chota Leader: Hey! Ho!

Policeman: (to Chota Leader) I know who you are.

Chota Leader: Who am I?

Policeman: You used to be paaket-maar by the side streets. I arrested you only last week. Now you have become a leader. (weilding lathi) Chalo, chalo, no leader, no publicity. (raising voice) Section 144. Bhago, bhago!

(Enter TV.)

Minister: (through TV) My dear citizens of Mumbai. I have great news for you today. This is such a great day. Your beloved Mumbai will be turned into the greatest forest the world has ever seen. No country can boast of such a great forest. Just think about it. Where this ugly concrete buildings stand now, there will be mighty oaks. Where this stinking sewage flows now, there will be clear water streams. Where this noisy BEST buses go now, there will be mighty elephants roaming. Think about the glory. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking why Mumbai? Why us? Why not Colcutta? Why not Dilli? When not Chennai? I know. I feel your pain. But my dear citizens of Mumbai, these are difficult times. Our great mother India stands at your door, begging you, begging you to sacrifice. This is the time of sacrifice, I am sure you all agree. But I hear that there are some troubling fellows, some elements of trouble, that are trying to create trouble. Don't listen to them, listen to me. Go to your friendly resettlement officer nearby. They will take care of everything for you. You will be relocated. You will be resettled. Do you want land, we will give you land. Do you want job, we will give you job. Do you want air-conditioner, we will give you air-conditioner. Bollo mere saath. Jai Hind!

(Crowd shouts "Jai Hind!")

(Enter Resettlement Officer. People stand in a queue to talk to him. The first person tries to approach him.)

RO: (eating paan and shooing away the intruder) Where are you coming? Stand on the side. Move, move. I will take care of everybody.

(RO gestures to the first person to come up.)

RO: Papers! Papers!

First Person: Saabji, Mera naam Gaamvaali hain.

RO: What is this Gaamvaali business? Where are your papers?

Gaamvaali: Saabji, list ko dekho naa. naam hain.

RO: (looking in the list) Hold it! Hold it! You live on the 11th floor?

Gaamvaali: Yes Sir, 11th floor.

RO: Ridiculous, didn't you read the sign in front?

Gaamvaali: Kaunsa sign. Which sign?

RO: Only people living on ground floor affected. Land for land, is only for people who live on the ground, not for people who live in the air. You are not a PAP, you will not be resettled. Don't waste my time. Go, go!

(Gaamvaali leaves protesting.)

RO: Next, Next! (Taking papers from Mohan) Good, good! Mohan Mumbaikar! 25 years old.

Mohan: 25.

RO: Grandfather moved to Mumbai in 1930.

Mohan: Long time

RO: Where is your grandfather's birth certificate?

Mohan: My grandfather's birth certificate?

RO: These are proper procedures. You have to have proper certificates. Otherwise no land.

Mohan: It's at my house.

RO: Then go get it now. Go, go! (While Mohan runs away) Hello! Take the paper. Alright who's next. Paper, paper! (Looking at Garibpati's papers) These are two papers. You are only one.

Garibpati: The other one is for my sister. Here.

RO: Ohh! (looks at papers again) Ration card, ration card. (looks at ration cards) You have two dogs. Haven't you registered your dogs? (Garibpati and his
sister point out the registration in the ration card) Everything seems to be in order. Hold on, hold on!

(A man approaches from the side. Hands in a bribe and papers saying "Bada saab")

RO: (to the man on the side) I will give you prime land. In Hyderabad. The new cyber-city of India. Okay! Tell your boss I will call him tomorrow. Alright. (to Garibpati) You want to see your land now. Come with me. (Taking them to the telescope, looks through it) Look here.

Garibpati: (looking for a long time) That's the moon! (looking at RO in disbelief) Where's my land?

RO: Didn't you see it? It's on the moon. (Garibpati looks again) See that crater, that's where the Apollo landed. That's where your land is.

Garibpati: (with even greater disbelief) You are giving me, showing me land on the moon.

RO: Why? This is an excellent resettlement package, so much better than the one for Narmada. There we showed land only on paper, here we are showing you land through the telescope. You should be happy.

Sister: Where is my land?
RO: (adjusting the telescope) Don't worry, don't worry, there is lots of land for everyone. Look.

Sister: (looking) That's not the moon. What is it?

RO: That's Mars. You people are so lucky. The future of humanity lies in space. That's what we have to colonize.

Garibpati: But we have never been there. We don't know how to live there!

RO: You are so ignorant, don't you know?  Everyone is going there these days, the Americans, the Japanese, even the gorillas in Africa. They have made so much progress and we have to catch up with them.

Garibpati: But you are not even sending us to the same planet.

RO: (sighing) That is the price of progress. We all have to pay for it.

(RO goes back to his chair. Mohan is back with his papers. Tries to give them to RO.)

RO: Hold it! Hold it! It's 3:30. chai break! 3:30 is my chai break. Tomorrow morning. Come tomorrow morning.

(Gets up and leaves. People march shouting "Bachao, bachao, Mumbai Bachao!!. Mumbai shehar kiska hain ? Hamara hai, hamara hai!!")

Sutradhar: With this, people have taken to the streets. Some concerned citizens have filed a claim in the court saying that the Government project is illegal and unconstitutional. Now the proceeding shifts to the district court, honorable judge presiding.

(Enter sign "court". Enter Judge.  Enter pro-project and pro-people lawyers. Enter Mohan. He is 25 years old.)

Pro-people lawyer: I am pro-people lawyer.

Pro-project lawyer: I am pro-project lawyer.

(Court argues. Mohan watches from the side.)

Sutradhar: Now the proceedings shift to the high court.

(Enter Judge and lawyers. Enter Mohan. He is 35 years old.)

(Court argues. Mohan watches from the side.)

Sutradhar: Now the proceedings shift to the supreme court.

(Enter Judge and lawyers. Enter Mohan. He is 50 years old.)

(Court argues in gibberish. Mohan watches. Judge begins to speak in gibberish.)

Mohan: But Judge saab, I cannot understand what anybody here is saying. Can you please speak in Hindi?

Judge: What? You expect me to speak in Hindi. The court speaks only in Pavri, the language of all educated and environmentally conscious people. (Long pause) But since the court is greatly concerned about human rights and (pointing to Mohan) for your sake, let me summarize what has been said in Hindi. (Pointing to pro-people lawyer) you want complete open information on projects. (pointing to pro-project lawyer) and you want thorough exploration of alternatives. (pointing to Mohan) You want participation in the decision making process. And if you agree to the project you want a fair resettlement package for all. Well, (pause and deliberations) I rule in favor of people. This court orders an indefinite stay on the project until all resettlement guidelines are fulfilled. Jao, apne logon ko batao. Go and tell your people!

(Noisy cheers by the people and the pro-people lawyer.)

Mohan: (Solemnly) Wait! Wait! Don't rejoice yet my friends. After all this struggle, I realized something. This is not a time to rejoice, this is a time to think, to contemplate. What is this debate about? Is it about development? Or is it about environment? No there is something else that even more important. When we had the power what did we do? When so many people were uprooted from their homes, what did we do? In the name of development, how many people were thrown out of their homes. Think about it. Think of Sardar Sarovar, think of Tehri. Do you know how these people lived? And died? How they struggled? After losing their homes, losing their children, losing their livelihoods, just to get a roof over their heads. And feed their children. They are still struggling. But we never gave any thought to their suffering, to their struggle. Only now, when its our turn to be forced out of our homes, to face the same situation, we are fighting this injustice. This is a fight against injustice. Friends, let us take this minute to make an oath. That we will not accept injustice. That we will fight for our rights and that we will stand by our brothers and our sisters.

(Cast sings "Narmada ki Ghati mein")

[CURTAINS]