It’s only ironic that Jalna farmer Rajkumar Tangde’s Marathi play, Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla, about the legendary Maratha warrior king, recently crossed the 100 shows mark. Directed by Nandu Madhav, the politically sensitive play is staged entirely by farmers from Jalna, known for their ‘shahiri’. Shahiri is a form of folk performance where a singer tells stories through fast-paced songs interspersed with some narration. Highly energetic, it’s widely used now in mythologicals as well as social awareness tales.
Apart from presenting nuggets from history, it also says Shivaji’s last trip was to Jalna. As characters speak about the warrior king, it’s interspersed with satire about the plight of the farmers as well. As one of the characters sarcastically says, “Perhaps only a Shivaji can salvage the situation now.”