In its fifth year, out of 230 entries received, 10 best nominated plays will perform to win prizes in 13 categories at Mahindra Excellence Theatre Awards (META). The performances will begin today at Delhi and the final results will be announced on March 7.
Creative director of META, Ravi Dubey says, “In the first year, there were only seven people in the audience and six jury members in the auditorium. Last year there was a long queue of people waiting outside and many sitting on the floor and the steps. That explains the popularity of the awards. Also, the number of entries — 230 — is the highest in the five years.”
On future plans of META, Dubey informs, “We are planning to include a lifetime achievement award from next year and also plan to take the competition on an international level. The awards have now taken space on theatre lovers’ annual calendar.”
Among the selected plays are those in Assamese, Garo, Urdu, Manipuri and Sanskrit. There’s also a three-language play and a non-verbal one. “We have an English translation running with the performances. The languages are so varied that I had to actually refer to a map to locate the origins,” says Dubey.
The jury includes film and art director MS Sathyu, dialogue and screenplay writer Ranjit Kapoor, former actor Dhritiman Chaterji, actor Seema Biswas and theatre personality Dr Vijaya Mehta. Among the 10 best plays, chosen from across the country, two are from Mumbai and two from Pune.
S*x, M*orality, and Cens*rship (Hindi)
The play explores the issue of morality and censorship in the contemporary society. There is a flashback to Vijay Tendulkar’s 70’s classic, Sakharam Binder, which was incidentally one of the most controversial plays. Among the responses that director Sunil Shanbag received was — “How did you dare to pull off something like this,” smiles Shanbag, as he adds, “I find it interesting that censorship is something that concerns all of us, but we are afraid of even stating it.”
Receiving heart-felt responses from the theatre community and young actors, the play led to discussions about the content.
The play will be staged in Mumbai, in May, after returning from Pune, Bangalore, Delhi and Lucknow.
Producer: Theatre Arpana
Director: Sunil Shanbag
Nominations: Best actor male, female, supporting role, director, script, sound, costume, stage and choreography.
White Lily Aani Night Rider (Marathi)
The play is a black comedy revolving around a man and a woman in their 40s. Being close chat friends on the Internet, they even indulge in erotic conversations. The two decide to meet in person to transform the virtual reality into a reality. But when they meet, they face the dilemma of accepting the man-woman equation.
“The play has completed 125 shows and in each show we have an audience ranging from college students to even 70-year-old people. Milind Pathak and myself have written, directed and are acting in the play. It is rare to find a two-member theatre team,” smiles Rasika Joshi.
Log on to the blog of the play and see numerous comments and discussions that the play has generated. Among them are discussions about the serious issues related to relationships and societal norms. “We have made changes in the play with every performance. It’s developed a lot, mostly with inputs from viewers,” says Joshi.
Director: Milind Phatak and Rasika Joshi
Nominations: Best actor female and original script.
Una, a confident young woman, confronts Ray, an ageing executive, and forces him to revisit the past. Twenty years ago, they had an affair until one night, Ray disappeared. Now she’s back and seeking much more than revenge.
Producer: Akvarious Productions
Director: Akarsh Khurana
Nominations: Best Lighting, actor female and male, play and director.
The play tells the story of a group of youngsters living aimlessly with shattered dreams. As the play engages in the inner battles of the youngsters, sexuality becomes the major concern. The plot is about how each character searches for an escape — the three men bare their sexual urges in relation to Garbo. Later they are afraid to face the reality that Garbo is pregnant and how even in her pregnancy, they look for their own salvation.
Producer: Aasakta Kalamanch (Pune)
Director: Mohit Takalkar
Nominations: Best actor male and supporting actor.
The other plays among the 10 best are— Roop Aroop (Hindi), Spinal Chord (Malayalam), Mirel Masinghka (Non-verbal), Guti Phulor Gamusa (Assamese), A-Chik A-Song (Garo), Bharatkatha (Hindi, Sanskrit and Bengali).