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"Act 1 Scene 1"
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     Saji, a 38 year old versatile artist from Vagomon, Idukki, has proved his worth in the fields of music, theatre and even motivational speaking. He was born the youngest among eight siblings, but sadly couldn’t pursue studies beyond twelfth grade. Although Saji had tried to complete his degree, the attempt only went in vain. So he had resorted to various tasks ranging from painting, writing and drawing to housekeeping in order to earn a livelihood. His life took an unexpectedly shocking turn ten years back, when he fell off a building while doing manual labour at a construction site. That day Saji not only broke his neck, but also his dreams.

     Like every other kid Saji was also fond of trying his skills in mimicry and music but fear pulled him back. "Back in school, the sound never came out because of fear" he says. However by the time he was in twelfth grade, he managed to bag numerous prizes in mimicry, singing and drama direction. Saji states that it was the exceptional support from parents and friends that took him till the stage of Comedy Ulsavam - a pop television show that projects the talents of people from various backgrounds. “This made the villagers understand more about me and the share of support increased”, he says.

     As a child, Saji was passionate about plays. He used to travel 40 kilometres to the nearest theatre in Pala to watch plays. He still fondly recalls the fervent passion with which he used to enjoy the dramas. In his younger years, he used to pay casual visits to drama rehearsals and was also inspired to write, direct and act in a play. After the accident, Saji brushed up his flair in theatre, once again embracing his long forgotten talents. In fact Saji considers his accident a blessing in disguise.

     Saji rekindled the artistic fire within him as he took membership in a music band for persons with disabilities named Wheels of Freedom. As part of the band, Saji travelled all over Kerala and participated in more than 400 stage shows. One of his masterpiece performances is the play called Chaya, under the administration of Suvarna Theatres. Saji appreciates the opportunities presented to him by his talent. He gets to travel a lot and acquaint with numerous celebrities.

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     Saji elaborated to us the limitations faced by people like him. He says that only through immense societal and familial support can artists like him display their true potential. He recalls with gratitude the coordinators of Suvarna Theatres who helped his troop during the rehersals. “People like V T Ratheesh and Eldhose paid much attention to setting up convenient and disabled-friendly rehersal spaces for us. They finally found Iringol, a place near Perumbavoor for setting up our camp.”, he says. Saji explains that unlike solo singing performances, combined participation of the whole team for more than 3-4 rehearsals is mandatory before a play can be performed on stage.

     Saji expresses his satisfaction with the society. He says that people have imbibed more empathy towards persons with disabilities in today’s society. He has apparently come across countless people who treated him with kindness and offered to help him. Saji is of the opinion that this kindness of the society invariably adds on to the progress of persons with disabilities. However he feels that most people still see them through the light of sympathy and refuse to acknowledge their true potential. This attitude of the society must be changed, he observes.