Nehru Centre is Celebrating its 10th National Theatre Festival…Detailed Information of the plays at the festival from 17th to 24th August 2006…
The 10th edition of the 11-day long National Theatre Festival organized by the Nehru Centre is slated to start on August 14, 2006. The festival is being presented as a representational kaleidoscope of the dramatic arts, with an aim to include as many diverse genres as possible in the fare of the nineteen productions on display. The plays vary in style and form, from the totally classical to the avant-garde and the experimental. The select plays cover thirteen languages/dialects such as Chattisgarhi, Mewari, Manipuri, Bengali, English, Hindi, etc. Last week we had provided information related to the first five plays of the festival. The following information concerns plays scheduled from 17th August onwards.
Thursday, August 17
This is a theatrical attempt based on poetry and to that extent it can be termed experimental. In fact, one can go as far to say that poetry is the mainstay of this presentation. There are no separate words, dialogues or narration besides the selected poems. The text of the poem replaces the conversational dialogue and carries the story forward. The selected poems are completely new, fresh, unpublished and by unknown writers. The writers are people from different walks of life, living in different parts of the world. The common thread running amongst the select poets is that all of them are Marathi-speaking people and they write in Marathi, regardless of where they live and what they do for a living. Since the writers fall in the age group of 25-40, the sentiments that they express in their poems are very much modern and urbane.
Thursday, August 17
Duration: 90 mins with Interval. Kalashray’s …AND INDRAJEET (Hindi) Original Bengali play written by Badal Sircar.
Hindi Translation/Adaptation: Dr. Pratibha Agarwal.
Design & Direction: Jayadev Hattangady.
This Hindi version follows the original famous play EVAM INDRAJEET by Badal Sircar. The play has a timeless appeal; the characters in it are everyman although Indrajeet is singled out as different, a person who dares to have lofty ideals in cynical times.
Friday, August 18
Duration: 2 hrs with Interval. The Performer’s AVATAR (Mewari)
The villagers of Barodia come to a devra (a temple) to pray in order to get relief from the famine that has caused them much grief. A bhopa (village priest) starts chanting the mantras (religious invocations) to forecast the future of the destitute villagers. A pregnant woman, Lalee enters the temple quite unexpectedly. Bhopa sees her and suddenly starts shouting that the Lord is taking avatar (incarnation) in her womb. He declares the unborn child to be the saviour of the villagers. He also adds that this child-god would free the villagers from the tyranny of their King. So even while the villagers rejoice this news, Lalee and her husband are petrified by this forecast as they know that the ruthless King could go to any length to save his own life. The villagers promise to provide the couple with adequate security. But the King comes to know of the forecast through his network of khabris (informants). As per the mythology surrounding Lord Krishna’s birth, here too the enraged king orders his men to kill every pregnant woman. A terrified Lalee prays to God and as fate would have it, the avatar is born.
Friday, August 18
Duration: 2 hrs. No Interval. BIJUN KOI NATHI (Gujarati) Based on the original novel by Vinesh Antani.
Stage Adaptation & Direction: Kapildev Shukla.
BIJUN KOI NATHI which roughly translates into ‘there is no one else’ presents a very vivid depiction of life in a typical village of Gujarat. Along with this, the sanyuktaharan, or the ‘play within a play’ technique, intrinsic to the Gujarati folk tradition, manifests itself making this piece of theatre timeless, universal and colourful. In the sesquicentennial celebrations in 2004 to celebrate 150 years of Gujarati theatre, this play was included in the list of the most significant plays by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi. An interesting aspect of this play is that in the concluding eight minutes of the first act and the final five minutes of the second and concluding act of this tw-act play is that the scenes are totally devoid of dialogue. By just relying on songs and music for these important bits in the play, a performance technique is revealed. Essentially the play depicts the eternal tussle of man, torn between beauty on the one hand and sensuality on the other.
Saturday, August 19
Duration: 160 mins with Interval Ekjute’s PENCIL SE BRUSH TAK (Huindustani) Play conceptualized by Noor Zaheer.
Script written for the stage by Varun Gautam.
Design & Direction: Nadira Zaheer Babbar.
One of the major highlights of Ekjute’s 25th anniversary celebrations earlier this year was the much publicized premiere of PENCIL SE BRUSH TAK. The play is a tribute to M.F. Hussain, a world renowned painter. Nadira Zaheer Babbar felt that the book authored by M.F. Hussain was unique in many ways and she was able to seize upon a few theatrical possibilities of selecing excerpts from his book for the stage. Nadira was able to gain a deeper insight into the world of the painter and the result is the play.
Saturday, August 19
Duration: 90 Mins. No Interval. Manch Rangmanch’s GADDI CHARHAN KI KAHAL BARI SI (Punjabi) Original short stories by Baldev Singh Dhindsa (Sukh Di Gari), Dr. Jaswinder Singh (Palian Paunda Sap), Harpreet Sekha (Ram Gau) and Veena Verma (Galat Aurat).
Poetry by Surjit Patar.
Design & Direction by Keval Dhaliwal.
With its intriguing sub-line being ‘a journey to an illustrative paradise’, this play is based on four significant short stories from Punjabi Literature by four different authors. These particular stories tell the tale of those young boys and girls who are described as “illegal immigrants” in the western world. The stories are a pignant description of the dreadful lives that these young people face at home and later in the foreign lands that they have migrated to. Needless to say it is the women who suffer the most as they live in the constant fear of being discovered, punished and of being eventually deported. The play is a touching narrative about the lives of these people.
Sunday, August 20
Duration: 70 mins. No Interval. Lalit Kala Kendra Gurukul’s PANDURANG SANGVIKARCHYA KAVITA (Marathi) Based on the popular Marathi novel, ‘Kosala’ and on some poems from the volumne ‘Dekhani’ by Bhalchandra Nemade.
Adaptation & Direction: Anil Kamble.
The play is a collage of select passages from the novel, ‘Kosala’ and a few poems from ‘Dekhani’, both of which have been written by the well-known Marathi writer Bhalchandra Nemade. In a sense this is a creative experiment that has attempted to give a theatrical interpretation of the life, time and experiences of Pandurang Sangvikar, who is the protagonist of ‘Kosala’. We see how Pandurang tries to analyse human life on the basis of his own experiences which at times appear absurd. An effort has been made to show how conflicting thoughts, the sense of uncertainty and depression affect our life deeply. The play as such tries to juxtapose the strength and purpose of life against what so often seems to be its meaninglessness. Members of the cast are students of the Lalit Kala Kendra of Pune University. In that sense this play may be viewed as a student workshop production.
Sunday, August 20
Duration: 90 mins with Interval Nandikar’s PATA JHORE JAYE & BARDA (A Double Bill in Bengali). Design & Direction: Rudraprasad Sengupta. (PATA JHORE JAYE)
Direction : Goutam Haldar (BARDA)
PATA JHORE JAYE is a short play by Buddhadeb Basu. It rests on the small talk between an old couple who have reached the evening of their lives. Their daughter and son are married, presumably happily. Both their children are settled in different cities away from their parents. The daughter is in the U.S. while the son is in Delhi. Left alone to their own devices, the couple keep passing their days hoping that their children will remember them and pay a visit. With time hanging heavily on their hands and with very little else to do, the couple takes frequent rips down memory lane as they wait for their children, for love and death- in that order! An important aspect of the play is the dramatic treatment given to it. The couple while reminiscing together appear like each of them is almost talking to themselves and yet at another level, the play is almost like ‘a song in prose’ with the same images, dialogues and themes recurring like a musical refrain.
BARDA is an elision for Bora Da, meaning elder brother in Bengali. The short play is a Bengali adaptation of Munshi Premchand’s story BADE BHAISAHAB by Swatilekha Sengupta. In the play, an elderly gentleman, possibly an autobiographical image of Premchand himself, sits in an easy chair and gives an interview to a TV channel. He remembers his elder brother during their school days.Painful and funny in parts, the story touches a chord as it brings to the fore, a very personal recollection that we can all identify with.
Monday, August 21
Motley’s KATHA COLLAGE II (Urdu) 7 satarical tales written by Harishankar Parsai.
Direction: Naseeruddin Shah
Motley is a Mumbai based theatre group established in 1979. Some of its major productions include plays like THE ODD COUPLE, WAITING FOR GODOT and DEAR LIAR. The present play is based on the following seven stories:
‘Telephone’: is a satire on the omnipresent and indispensable gadget that now rules our lives.
‘Bechara Bhala Aadmi’ is about the inherent urge to exploit sincere people by praising them.
‘Private College Ka Ghoshna Patra’ is a sort of a manifesto for an education system wherein the blind are leading the blind – presumably up a blind alley!
‘Snaan’ is all about the demerits of bathing- hygiene freaks may as well come fully armed with deodorants or whatever!
‘Vo Zara Wife Hai Na’ is a tale about wives. Can’t give away more about the story lest they attack the actors with brooms even before they have left the green room!
‘Prem Prasang Maen Father’ is about the ever looming presence of fathers in tales of love since time immemorial.
‘Samay Pe Milne Waale’ is all about the merits of never being on time. This is one thing that we with our “Indian Stretchable Time” understand only too well!
Tuesday, August 22
Duration: 80 Mins. No Interval
Sopanam’s MAYA (Malayalam)
Original play by Mahakavi Shaktibhadra.
Design & Direction: Kavalam Narayana Panikkar
‘Maya Sitankam’, the third act of Mahakavi Shaktibhadra’s ASHCHARYA CHUDAMANI (meaning the wondrous crest) poses an interesting sequence of metaphorical wonderment and aesthetic reincarnation to be made convincing on stage.
Tuesday, August 22
Duration: 70 Mins. No Interval.
Sopanam’s VIKRAMORVASIYAM (Sanskrit)
Original play in Sanskrit by Mahakavi Kalidasa.
Directed by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar.
The theme of the play is conceived in this production as the growth of a man from his physical might to his more spiritual glory. Apart from Kalidasa’s text, the director also makes use of the ‘Rigveda Padhya’ in which the dialogue between Pururava and Urvasi gives eminently useful material for the recreation of the myth.
Wednesday, August 23
Duration: 150 mins with Interval. Awishkar’s DHOL TASHE (Marathi) Written by C.P. Deshpande.
Directed by Vijay Kenkre.
This play is about the so-called religious festivals and their effects on society. According to the writer’s perspective, such festivals are used for a variety of purposes, but all these purposes exclude the one thing that is supposedly what they stand for- religion. On the contrary, they become the cause of increasing confusion and even violence in the human mind. The protagonist of the play, Akshay is aware of this destructive process with its manifold dimensions and decides to resist it. And thus the conflict begin between him and his family members.
Wednesday, August 23
7:30 pm Duration: 2 hrs with Interval.
Bharat Natya Samshodhan Mandir’s SANGEET ‘KATYAR KALJAT GHUSALI’ (Marathi)
Original play by Purushottam Darverkar.
Directed by Ravindra Khare.
‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusali’ is a melodious duel between the bitter pride of Gharana (a school of normative traditions in Indian classical music) and the pure reverence for art that transcends this pride, at times crossing all barriers. The play is a musical in the Marathi Sangeet Natak tradition and was first staged in 1967. The play also explores the nuances that exist in a relationship between a guru and his sishya. A salient and a vital part of this presentation is the use of the traditional Indian classical music in the form of bandishes as well as a few semi-classical musical patterns, such as the thumri, qawwali, bhajan and son on.
Thursday, August 24
Duration: 90 Mins. No Interval. Chorus Repertory Theatre’s CHINGLONG MAPAN TAMPAK AMA or NINE HILLS, ONE VALLEY (Manipuri).
Written & Directed by Ratan Thiyam.
Culture and tradition reflect the identity of a group of people and bind them together. Where do people stand when their cultural traditions are lost? Director Ratan Thiyam says that the play is a poem by birth, a collage of many thoughts and a presentation of several contemporary ideas. There is no conventional plot in it and ultimately it is a document of a restless society that breeds political turmoil and where the majority of the sufferers are mainly the poor, ordinary people.
* Although passes for only a few plays remain, those of you who are interested in seeing the production/s can try procuring a pass on the day of the show itself by arriving at the Nehru centre early. The above information has been edited from the festival program provided by the Nehru Centre. Mumbai Theatre Guide takes no responsibility for change in schedule.