Unsung heroes and nine musicals — it’s the story of Indian theatre’s greatest music directors that’s being showcased at the 12th theatre utsav.
Organised by the National School of Drama (NSD), the spotlight in this year’s Bharat Rang Mahotsav is on the personal journeys of music composers and their place in theatre.
Called the Natyanaad or theatrical music, the nine shows are focusing on famed composers such as B.V. Karanth, Habib Tanvir, Bhaskar Chandavarkar, Mohan Upreti and K.N. Panikkar.
“This year the idea was to look at theatre music, especially the music of the sixties, seventies and the eighties,” says Amal Allana, chairperson of National School Drama. “We wanted to share the works of some of our best music directors who have contributed a lot to drama and have struck a chord with the crowds.”
For NSD, this is also a way for archiving the works of these great men. “None of the songs that are being performed are available on tape. We had to call in the troupes, recall each line and then have performed it live,” says Allana. “And now, at the shows, we’re recording them all, just so that we can archive the songs of these great men.”
The Natyanaad is a live documentary of sorts, telling the tale of these men through their own compositions According to Bansi Kaul, who directed the inaugural show at the utsav these performances are a crossover between tradition and modernity.
“We wanted to show the changes that theatre has gone through since early 20th century. The influences of music was one of the best ways,” says the director, who goes on to add that the Natyanaad will also focus on socio-political influences like Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA)and forms like Manchagaan and Natya Sangeet tradition of Maharashtra.
At the inaugural show on January 7, the works of the nine musicians including Rabindranath Tagore and Madhusudhan Dutt were sung along with spectacles like modern projections and live acts. While two shows of the Natyanaad on Mohan Upreti and Bhaskar Chandavarkar, pioneers of Indian theatre music are over, seven more music documentaries are in store over the next two weeks.
Natyanaad III by the Banglar Manchgaan will be featuring the works of Tagore, Dinabandhu Mitra and Utpal Dutt. A treat to the ear, spirit and intellect, the performance will offer an original view of the translation between life and stage. IPTA’s songs of protest and hope are next. Marathi Rangbhoomi, which is being held on January 15, will potray the journey of Sangeet Natak in the traditional manner.
NSD’s evening of Natyanaad on January 18 will feature a veritable range of music representing the compositions from music directors from all over the world while a tribute will be paid to Habib Tanvir’s compositions on January 19 and on January 20, K.N. Panikkar’s Sopanam theatre group will be bringing together compositions roots in the indigenous and classical music of Kerala. For the grand finale however is a tribute to B.V. Karanth, the second director of the NSD and legendary director whose influence on theatre music extended nationally.