Theatre’s taking on Delhi’s temperature and promises to warm up the culture scene this New Year. The 15th Bharat Rang Mahotsav kicks off today with a rich fair of 87 productions, selected from all across the globe. While the focus this year will be on popular theatre, the annual theatre festival of National School of Drama (NSD) will also mark the return of actor Kulbhushan Kharbanda on stage after a long time, with group Padatik’s Atmakatha.
The performances, which include 68 Indian and 19 foreign plays, are divided into different segments this time. “This year we have quite a variety to offer. We have curated the fest this time. When we got the entries, we thought we can package them in different segments for the benefit of the audience,” says Amal Allana, Chairperson, NSD. Each year, a part of the festival travels to a second city and it is Jaipur this time, where 11 Indian and nine international plays will be presented.
The Popular Theatre segment will showcase a Bengali Jatra, Nautanki from Uttar Pradesh, Raahen from Pune, and a lesser known form of popular theatre — Jhadipatti from Wadsa, among others.
“These are the theatre forms brought to us by popular theatre companies across the country. They celebrate the local traditions and culture of that place,” says Dr Anuradha Kapur, director, NSD. Since the year marks the centenary birth celebrations of famous playwright Saadat Hassan Manto, a segment called Manto Focus will stage six productions based on his scripts. Another segment called Shakespeare has a selection of seven productions. Piya Behroopia, a Hindi adaptation of Twelfth Night that was performed at The Globe Theatre in London last season, will also be staged. The international segment consists 18 plays: Footsbarn Theatre from France will present Indian Tempest, and there’ll be two productions each from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. There will also be a variety of mixed-media events, exhibits and lectures.