The Webster’s dictionary describes the ‘Bioscope’ as a kind of an early movie projector. However, in India it is popularly referred to a wooden box containing pictures and having four circular peeping holes. Whereas, Bioscopewallahs are those people who operate the box accompanied by songs, stories and jokes. They usually wander carrying a bioscope on their back and a tripod under the arm.
There were a number of Bioscopewallahs in India before the advent of television. Now they have become sporadic and are confined mostly to the villages.
Rau Kisan Waghmare is one such entertainer who is still eagerly awaited by children from all walks of life. They enjoy the show for a few minutes, but are left with memories of it forever.
In 1971 his tamasha company closed down as a result of a draught. Jobless, Rau decided to leave his village in search of employment. He took a free drought relief train to Bombay along with his family. There he happened to see some Bioscopewallahs perform. He was impressed by the prospect of making it a livelihood, especially because it involved singing and entertaining, which he was accustomed to in the tamasha company. He and his family worked as labourers for a month, brought a bioscope and moved back to their village. Rau performed his shows even on his way back.
Rau, the songadya, was transformed into a Bioscopewallah.
About 35 years ago began his journey with the wooden box. During those days he charged his little patrons 5 paise each. As time went by, he increased it to Re. 1 and occasionally charges Rs. 2, subject to, locality.
The Bioscope earned for him everything he wanted. He built a house in his village and got all his children married. However, after about a decade, he moved to Pune in Maharashtra because his sons hoped to find better opportunities in the city. Unfortunately, that was not to happen and his sons have taken to drinking.
Rau Waghmare, at 84, still works hard for survival. Notwithstanding his age, the scorching heat or bitter cold, he sets out with his bioscope to earn a couple of humble meals and to look after his crippled wife.
Nevertheless, poverty has not diminished his zest for life, his endless struggle and pride in his work.
- Roopali Rokade
Dalit: In South Asia's Hindu caste system, a Dalit — formerly called untouchable — is a person outside the four castes, and considered below them. Included are leather-workers, scavengers, street handcrafters, poor farmers and laborers.
A Paisa (pl. Paise) is a monetary unit currently equivalent to 1 / 100th of a Rupee
Rupee is the name for the currency used in India.