Born to a social worker, Vasantha in Ragigudda, a low income area in south Bangalore, 28-year-old Aruldass Vijaya and his brothers became school drop outs after their mason father deserted them when they were young. Incidentally, Arul’s mother was then an active political leader in their neighbourhood who started Indira Women’s Welfare Association which worked for the social advancement of marginalised women in Ragigudda.
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Vijaya was compelled into child labour and was exploited by his extended family. Fortunately, an NGO employee spotted him and enrolled him in an informal school run by the well known Bangalore based NGO, Association for the Promotion of Social Action (APSA). Aruldass completed his SSLC and vocational training in electronics. Simultaneously, he got a chance to pursue his interest in music and the performing arts in Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka with different cultural troupes.
After completing his graduate degree and leaving his uninteresting job at an electronics firm, Arul joined John Devaraj a multidisciplinary artist and performer and his group. There he learned acting, film making, clay modelling, puppet making et al. Aruldass also assisted Devaraj in conducting workshops in government schools, villages and for NGOs. Returning to the institution that rehabilitated him previously, Vijaya trained many marginalised kids in music, theatre and art. He also performed at various cultural festivals in India and abroad.
Aruldass quit APSA to launch Janabimba theatre in July 2010. It is a platform that represents a slum and its young people. Janabimba’s main objectives are to enhance the latent talent of the youth and create their identity in an artistic manner. The theatre group also aims to facilitate non violent youthhood while educating youngsters through entertainment.
According to Vijaya, in the urbanised world, performing art forms, folklore and theatre are losing their significance. So it is important to recreate theatre and evolve new forms to make performing arts effective and innovative. His altruism and maturity is evident in Vijaya’s words, "Youth from backgrounds and neighbourhoods like mine lose their way early especially after being forced into hazardous jobs instead of studying. Lacking good role models and with negative peer influences, they indulge in crime and become alcohol or drug addicts. I want to minimise that by engaging the youngsters in creative pursuits".
Through Janabimba, Arul has managed to teach singing, playing drums and acting to some of Ragigudda’s school going teenage boys, in their leisure hours. The youngsters have lent their voice to various social justice campaigns like those highlighting street vendor evictions, child and bonded labour, vulnerability of street kids, etc. However, due to lack of financial support, Janabimba has not been very active for the last few months. While trying to revive his troupe, Arul continues to be involved in street theatre and cultural events demanding basic human rights for traditionally excluded communities.
J. P. Nagar 2nd phase