The stage is set for the seventh edition of Ananda: Hindi Natya Utsav | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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The stage is set for the seventh edition of Ananda: Hindi Natya Utsav

The seventh edition of the theatre festival, Ananda: Hindi Natya Utsav, aims to revive the beauty of the language.

art and culture Updated: Jul 04, 2017 16:29 IST
Kaushani Banerjee
A still from Sangeet Bari, a play on the traditional Maharashtrian lavani dance.
A still from Sangeet Bari, a play on the traditional Maharashtrian lavani dance.(HT Photo)

With the objective of providing an impetus to Hindi theatre groups across the country and encouraging them to work on new pieces, the Ananda: Hindi Natya Utsav is staged every year with fresh productions in the city. In its seventh edition — set to kick-off this weekend — the festival will showcase a mix of new and well-known theatre troupes at the National Centre of Performing Arts over a period of three days, Ila Arun’s Antarshdhwani Productions, Ank Theatre Group, Rangbaaz and Huseini Dawawala will be presenting premiere productions at the event.

A still from the play, Bas... Tum Aur Hum. (HT Photo)

Talking about the selection of plays, festival director Deepa Gahlot says, “They are all interesting in content, and unusual if compared to what is happening in Hindi theatre at present. The attempt at Ananda Hindi Natya Utsav is to push boundaries and be a catalyst in the creation of edgy work.” While the performing groups are not bound by a theme, Gahlot says in a theatre festival, “ideally there should be a multiplicity of ideas and stories, which there is in this year’s line-up.”

RECREATING AN ERA
The festival opens with Chhota Kashmir, which has been written by theatre actor and singer Ila Arun and directed by KK Raina. It revolves around the displacement of Kashmiri pandits from their homes. “The idea for the script had been within me for the last couple of years. I was finally able to put it on paper through this play. The story unfolds through a telephonic interaction between a grandfather and his grandson living in Chhota Kashmir area in Aarey Colony in Mumbai’s suburb of Goregaon. It is a comedy that tells a great tragedy,” says Arun.

Incidentally, Arun’s Hindi adaption (Peer Ghani) of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt is also based in Kashmir. When asked about the connection with Kashmir, Arun says, “I love the valley. In fact, I had a pen friend many years ago named Zaitun, who I recently went in search of and met in Kashmir. I feel for the people and their issues. I have many friends who are Kashmiri. But Peer Ghani was Ibsen’s story where we just used the backdrop of Kashmir. Whereas Chhota Kashmir is an original play that I have written talking about the struggles of those who have been evicted from their homeland,” explains Arun.

Show Time
  • Chhota Kashmir will be staged at Experimental Theatre, NCPA, on May 5, at 7pm.
  • Traffic will be staged at Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA, on May 6, at 5pm.
  • Sangeet Bari will be staged at Experimental Theatre, NCPA, on May 6, at 7pm
  • Bus...Tum Aur Hum will be staged at Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA, on May 7, at 5pm,
  • Ek Rupaiya will be staged at Experimental Theatre, NCPA, on May 7, at 7pm.

Arun further shares that Chhota Kashmir is inspired by the time when the situation in the state became violent in the ’90s and many (film) shoots had to be cancelled. A replica of Kashmir and the famous Dal Lake was formed in Goregaon and was christened Chhota Kashmir. Arun was deeply moved and according to her, the play, depicts, “not only the struggles of Kashmiri pandits but the struggle of aspiring artistes in Mumbai”. “We have used four poems written by Hindi poet Agnishekhar (a well-known Kashmiri Pandit who writes contemporary Hindi poetry from a Kashmiri perspective), to emphasise on the feeling of loss of home and identity of Kashmiri pandits. We have used one his famous poems Jawahar Tunnel, which is quite lengthy,” shares Arun.

A still from the play, Ek Rupaiya. (HT Photo)

OTHER ACTS
Rangbaaz’s Ek Rupaiya, which will be staged on May 7, is about an 11-year-old who questions the existence of God, the values taught by society and the tenets of karma. “The play is based on real-life incidents. It is about our belief system and how it affects us. The moral of the play is you reap what you sow,” shares the play’s director Nitin Bharadwaj. Gujarati theatre director Huseini Dawawala’s foray into Hindi theatre is marked with Traffic. The play, part comedy, part tragedy, focuses on the common man and the city’s snarling traffic and the how it affects daily lives.

An addition to the line-up is Sangeet Bari, a play on the traditional Maharashtrian lavani dance, which has been creating a buzz in the theatre circuits for a while. Written by Bhushan Korgaonkar, it features popular lavani artistes, Pushpa Satarkar, Shakuntalabai Nagarkar and Mohanabai Mahalangrekar. The play is performed in Hindi and Marathi and depicts the life of lavani dancers.

While regional theatre garners lesser fare than English plays, Bharadwaj of Raangbaz is optimistic and says, “There is a set audience for English plays in the city, especially from South Mumbai. But when a play is good and the word spreads, people do come and watch vernacular language plays as well. If presented in an interesting way, Hindi plays also draw audience.”