Armed with the obligatory intellectual air and ethnic garb, the doyens of Indian theatre descended at Mahindra Excellence in Theatre 2011 in full glory. Be it the young stage enthusiasts or the acting veterans, the night saw an eclectic mix of crowd cheering for the best of the Indian theatre. The Awards ceremony, which took place on March 8 at the Taj Mansingh Hotel was hosted by Lillete Dubey. Excited to be at the event the actress was at her wittiest best as she joked around with the audience.
The theatrical extravaganza saw various plays from various genres battling it out for top honours. Whether it was a contemporary play depicting the reality of today's life (The Interview), a socio-political play (Gandhi and Ambedkar) or a classical play about a baithak singer (Aaj Rang Hai), the nominees were a mixed bag of contemporary and classical theatre.
The awards saw the eternal tug of war between contemporary and classical, though in the end 'The Interview', a contemporary play about a young life-changing interview, took home the Best Actor (male), Best Supporting Actor (male) and Best Stage Design Award.
With the young crop of playwrights experimenting with new genres of plays, Member of the jury, Padma Shri award recipient Dr. Neelam Man Singh, elaborated on the new movement-taking place in the world of theatre. "There's a new movement happening - very absurdist, existentialist. They are not going in for form. They aren't creating the beginning, middle and end, the plays have become more experiential and connected with their lives. They are not many veneers strung together - young directors are evolving scripts from their own encounter with life", she says.
Dubey, echoed her views, "The new-age plays reflect lives of the youth. I have seen recent plays are filled with expletives, but that's just the language of the youth."
Ecstatic at being part of the jury, Singh revealed, "As a jury you get a window as to what's happening all over the country. Personally I wasn't looking for a finished product; I was more interested in how the play reflects their political structure and environment."
Coinciding with Woman's Day, three women centric plays were nominated for the awards. Sushma Deshpande, Director of Bayya Daur Ughad revealed that her play was about women who've become prostitutes of the God, "This play is about poetry of woman saints in Maharashtra who lived in the 13th and 188th century who devoted themselves to God. It has a contemporary relevance for women fighting for self respect through their creativity."
The awards came to a close on a spirited note with winners pleased with the much-deserved recognition. "I'm thankful for this award, I wasn't prepared for this, I haven't even prepare an acceptance speech", joked Kashin Shetty, winner Best Supporting Actor (Male).
Other winners are: -
Best Actor (Male) - Karan Pandit
Best Actor (Female)- Ahlam Khan
Best Supporting Actor (Male)- Kashin Shetty
Best Supporting Actor Female - Trimala Adhikari
Best Choreographer - Ningthouja Deepak
Best Stage design - Akarsh Khurana,
Best Costume Design - Purva Naresh
Best Innovative sound design - Ningthouja jayvidya
Best Lighting Director - Pradeep Vaiddya
Badal Sircar - Lifetime Achievement for contribution to Indian theatre