Representing Lucknow on international screens are the children of Chabootra Theatre Paathshala

Their film, Uljhan, has premiered at several international film festivals like the IFFLA, SIFF and SBIFF.

'Uljhan' actors with writer-director Ashish Pant (centre)

"All the world's a stage", wrote William Shakespeare in As You Like It and making a name for themselves on this stage, are 6 child theatre artists from Lucknow's Chabootra Theatre Paathshala. Introducing their skills to the world, they recently marked their debut in Ashish Pant's film- Uljhan (The Knot), which has had a successful run in the United States.

Further, it has premiered at several international film festivals like the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), Shanghai Film Festival (SIFF) and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF).

Representing Lucknow on the international stage

Mahesh Deva, owner Chabootra Theatre, with young artists

Established by Mahesh Chandra Deva, Lucknow's Chabootra Theatre has been whetting the acting skills of young children. The children that have associated with his theatre, belong to the age group of 4-18. He says that the children of his theatre are fighters for they are moving ahead in life despite financial constraints.

Post an audition, 6 of his students, who have been associated with theatre since 2014, got the opportunity to be a part of an international project, Uljhan (The Knot). Out of these 6 kids, Deva claims that Aman has mastered the craft of direction and writing. Their movie, Uljhan, has premiered across many foreign film festivals in the US and Asia.

Introducing the cast of Uljhan

Khushi Gautam

Uljhan stars Khushi Gautam, Mohammad Aman, Shivani Chaudhary, Mohammad Saif, Mohammad Arif, Monu Gautam and Harsh Gautam. Further, a lot of importance has been given to Uttar Pradesh and its capital city Lucknow, as its storyline resembles the life of the 11-year-old Khushi Gautam.

She is currently enrolled in class 8 at a government school and tells that her father was injured in an accident that paralyzed him. Her mother works in a hospital and she has three siblings. In the film too, her father-who is a rickshaw puller meets the same fate, and on losing him, Munni loses her voice.

Her role is dubbed as the most important one in this film and her screentime is close to 2 hours. Khushi Gautum states- "Sir (Mahesh Deva) told that the film we have worked in has been shown abroad, we are feeling very good and there is still a lot of work to do."

Plotline of Uljhan

What would you do if you accidentally ran over someone one night?

The relationship of an upper-middle-class couple, Shirish and Geeta, is tested in the aftermath of a car accident. The uljhan (knot) they are confronted with, unfolds like a suspense drama set in the city of Lucknow. As a consequence of this tumultuous incident, this movie explores a myriad of tropes such as class conflict, materialism, guilt and endemic aspects of contemporary urban Indian society.

Uljhan asks whether high walls and locked gates of posh societies can banish the effects of grave inequality and class structure at our doorsteps? Or, will the middle class's complicity in perpetuating the class structure ultimately seep in and infect our most intimate relationships? Watch the trailer of Uljhan (The Knot) here.

About Chabootra Theatre

Deva has been associated with theatre as a teacher for the last 18 years and in this span of time, he has trained almost 8,000 to 10,000 students across different genres and services. Chabootra Theatre has been opened across six locations in the city, amid the poor and neglected areas. Within 3 years of its launch, this theatre school started leaving its mark on the world through advertisements, cinema world and more.

Knock Knock

Imparting vocational training, Chabootra Theatre was started by Mother Seva Sansthan on 11 December 2013. Apart from training children from financially weak backgrounds in acting, this theatre school also provides lessons in writing, directing, painting, singing, dancing, poetry-story writing and recitation. We encourage you to engage and support this organisation in any way you can!

Location: Iradat Nagar, Valmiki Colony, Daliganj, Lucknow

-Pictures and inputs by Pawan Kaushal

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