Introduction: The play “Tubel” is a compelling story that encapsulates the essence and ambiance of Madhesh, portraying the unyielding suffering and struggles of farmers who cultivate the region’s golden soil. Set in the year 2056, the play resonates with the present-day reality where farmers continue to face enduring hardships. Presented in Bhojpuri and Nepali languages, the production sheds light on the irrigation challenges encountered by Madheshi farmers following the restoration of democracy.
Synopsis: “Tubel” revolves around Hariya (Rajiv Chaudhary) and his wife Munni (Nisha Dahal), residents of the Sedhawa village in Parsa. Hariya, a farmer, leads a comfortable life, unaware of the challenges ahead. However, as the play unfolds, his idyllic existence is disrupted by a series of problems affecting the farmers in Madhesh. The story primarily delves into the themes of suffering, poverty, and oppression experienced by these farmers.
The main plot centers around a 16-year-old youth working as a data collector for an underground water resources development project that supplies tube wells for irrigation. Through his extensive bicycle travels across the villages of the Bara-Parsa district, he witnesses and experiences the difficulties faced by the farmers firsthand. In his directorial debut, Roshan Subedi, the play’s director, masterfully portrays the multifaceted problems plaguing Madhesh’s farmers.
Challenges and Hope: Hariya’s responsibilities include cultivating his fields, arranging his daughter’s marriage, and repaying the debt he owes to the village chief. However, his wife is distressed by his habit of toiling in the fields all day and seeking solace in alcohol with his friend Nandan (Shravan Yadav) at night. Poverty has taken its grip on Hariya, driving him to drink and momentarily forget his sorrows.
Hariya’s hopes are rekindled when Lal Bahadur Khadka (Bhuwan Luhar), an employee from the irrigation department, arrives in the village to survey the installation of a tube well. Hariya believes that Lal Bahadur’s presence will resolve their irrigation problems, filling him with newfound happiness. However, the village chief and Chittaranjan (Rohit Rajak) do not share the same enthusiasm, as the former intends to seize the green fields and cultivate marijuana.
Moreover, Hariya is required to pay a percentage of money to the irrigation department, which the government collects before installing the tube well. Meanwhile, Chittaranjan, who initially disagreed with the decision to bury the tube well in Hariya’s field, appears content with the government’s new ruling. The village chief also fails to foresee that his own interests will be fulfilled through Hariya’s misfortune.
The Uncertain Future: Haria’s envisioned golden future seems elusive. He must sell his house and even part with his goats to afford the remaining amount for the tube well. Will Hariya manage to gather the necessary funds? How will Chittaranjan and the village chief exploit Hariya’s vulnerability? Could the government reverse its decision once again? The play “Tubel” holds the answers to these burning questions.
The Atmosphere and Music: The stage design transports the audience to the old houses of Madhesh, with scattered straw and the lingering aroma of cooked fish in the kitchen. The play’s music deserves special praise, featuring captivating tabla and flute tunes that soothe the ears. The music, composed by Shashivikram Thapa, Januka Nepal, Sharad Rai, Dipesh Rai, and Rajkamal Fakir, incorporates Bhojpuri songs and language, enhancing the play’s authenticity.
Performances and Direction: The play boasts a cast of talented newcomers, although their performances may lack novelty. Rajeev Chaudhary delivers an impressive portrayal of Hariya, managing to captivate the audience to a certain extent. Kundan Tharu, in the role of the village chief Mukhiya, brings a fitting portrayal, relying on actions rather than words. However, the remaining cast members fail to evoke enthusiasm through their performances, lacking the necessary energy.
Director Roshan Subedi, who hails from Madhesh, strives to convey not only the story of the region but also the struggles and sufferings endured by its farmers. While the tale of farmer suffering may not be new, the director’s attempt to present it in a fresh light is noteworthy. The play endeavors to showcase the problems faced by Madhesh, particularly those relating to irrigation. However, the director himself fails to provide a definitive answer to whether tube wells are ultimately installed in the village, leaving a sense of incompleteness in the conclusion.
In conclusion, “Tubel” is a powerful play that brings attention to the plight of Madheshi farmers, their relentless struggles, and the enduring poverty that engulfs them. Through its compelling storytelling and authentic portrayal of Madhesh’s atmosphere, the play sheds light on the region’s pressing issues. Despite some shortcomings in the performances and the open-ended conclusion, the director’s efforts to depict the story of Madhesh are commendable, making “Tubel” a thought-provoking theatrical experience.