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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

PC: Pawan Kaushal

Ashish Pant

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

Fighting against hunger, THESE 5 NGOs are a silver lining for the needy in Lucknow!

This World Food Day, get to know about these 5 NGOs fighting against hunger in Lucknow

There is an abundance of food-delivery apps in the market today that have managed to reduce the gap between your homes and restaurants. However, there is no such modern solution to bridge the long-prevailing gap between a one-time meal and the underprivileged. No matter how developed any city in India is today, the issue of hunger is a prominent one everywhere, and Lucknow is no exception.

But keeping intact our faith in humanity, are certain groups and individuals who're working round the clock to ensure that each day, the number of people going to sleep hungry, reduces significantly. This World Food Day, get to know about 5 NGOs working towards this cause and provide them with your support however you can. A little help goes a long way!

Akshaya Patra Foundation

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a non-profit organisation spread across India that operates a school lunch programme (Mid-Day meal). Established in the year 2000, the aim of this organisation is to counter classroom hunger and aid in the education of children. Reportedly, it feeds more than 18 lakh children every day, across the country. With its presence in several cities including Lucknow, the Akshaya Patra Foundation also worked to distribute food among the migrant workers during the COVID crisis last year. Donate to this noble cause by clicking on the website link attached below.

Contact: 097924 48359

Website: The Akshaya Patra Foundation

The Robin Hood Army

The Robin Hood Army is a volunteer-based organisation that was established in 2014 by Neel Ghose and Arushi Batra. This establishment works to get surplus food from restaurants and the community, to serve less fortunate people. The idea behind the conception of this NGO is to create self-sustained chapters across the world, that will look after its local community. Like all the other chapters, Lucknow Chapter of this volunteer-based organisation conducts various drives across the city. If you wish to become a part of this group log on to their official website now!

Contact: Send a mail on info@robinhoodarmy.com

Website: The Robin Hood Army

Roti Bank

Roti Bank is a citizen led organisation who's primary aim is to provide food to the needy. To attain this goal, Roti Bank has a team spread across the country including a bunch in Lucknow that is purely dedicated to the cause. Roti bank collects left-over and excess food from homes and events and distributes it among the needy. One can donate in cash or kind or even volunteer to become a part of this thoughtful initiative. Click on the website link to know more about this organisation.

Contact: 7905881802

Website: Roti bank Lucknow

Vijay Sri Foundation

Vijay Sri Foundation is a non-government organization, that was launched in the year 2009 in Lucknow. The main objective of this organisation was the distribution of food to the needy poor in hospitals. Initially, home-cooked food packets were distributed among attendants of poor patients admitted in various wards of Lucknow's King George Medical College. Gradually, the operations grew to other hospitals in the city as well. Currently, around 900 patients are served food everyday, under its "Prasadam Sewa" campaign. To join their team or contribute monetarily, log on to their official website.

Contact: 099358 88887

Website: Prasadam Sewa

Feeding India

Found in the year 2014, Feeding India was formed to solve the complex challenges of food wastage, malnutrition and hunger in India. As a part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, Zomato acquired this organisation in 2019 to deal with these issues. With its presence in Lucknow, Feeding India by Zomato designs interventions to decrease hunger among the communities that are underserved. If you wish to donate or know more about this organisation check out their official website.

Contact: Write to them here

Website: Feeding India

Knock Knock

Even though these organisations are working hard to improve the situation, it is upon all of us to make sure that we don't waste food and do whatever we can to help and feed the poor. To fight and beat the global problem of hunger, a collective effort is a must!

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