Horror and dark comedy, inspiring true stories, and monologues on modern Indian culture are set to take the stage at this year’s Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF).
In all, 45 plays will be staged in four languages — English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati.
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“Last year we had plays in 20 languages. This year, we decided to limit the number to make each play more accessible to as many people as possible,” says Juhi Babbar Soni, a theatre actor and co-curator of the SBI Bank theatre festival.
The opening act, then, will be a Marathi horror drama titled Tee, directed by Pritesh Sodha. A fairly unexplored genre on stage, Tee promises a ‘third presence’ in the audience, apart from the two lead actors on stage. The plot will riff on urban legends and superstition.
“Tee was inspired by my own fear of the supernatural,” says Sodha. “Since the genre offers a lot of unexplored territory, I decided to take it up during Kala Ghoda.”
This year’s KGAF will also host the India premiere of Lal Batti Express, which tells a stirring tale of sex workers’ children finding a new life through theatre.
The cast consists of 14 teenage girls who were either born to sex workers in the red-light district of Kamathipura or had been trafficked into prostitution and rescued. Created in association with NGO Kranti, it comes home after a very successful tour of the US.
Also on the schedule at KGAF is the premiere of Ekjute Theatre Group’s Main Savitri Bai Phule, about the life of the woman Dalit icon.
In other stagings, National Award-winning actor Rajit Kapur will perform in One on One 2, a compilation of eight monologues on the culture of our times; and Gujarati theatre stalwart Chirag Vora will perform his solo act, titled What’s Up, about an NRI who has come home from the US with an identity crisis.
The cinema section at KGAF, meanwhile, will feature 22 films across genres such as horror, comedy, romance, drama and action, and a section on women empowerment cinema.
Here, films such as Angry Indian Goddesses and Queen will be screened.
“The youth is aware of gender role issues that plague the country. We wanted to highlight mainstream cinema that discusses these issues,” says section curator Omar Quereshi.
Entries are flowing in for the second edition of the Bombay Shorts short film contest, with winning entries set to be screened at the festival.
“The entries we have received so far cover themes ranging from fear to romance and suspense... Short films today have such gripping subject matter,” says Qureshi.
Stellar stand-up comics will return for a second edition of KGAF too, in a line-up spread across four days at Irish House. “For the first time, we have stand-up comedians from Delhi performing,” says section curator Sonali Thakkar, who is a CA-turned stand-up comedian who will also perform.
Sharing the stage with her will be comedians Azeem Banatwalla, Atul Khatri (of East India Comedy), Amogh Randive and Abhishek Upmanyu, among others.
“My show will be about life from the point of view of a 26-year-old Gujarati in Mumbai — relationships, stereotypes, superstitions,” says Thakkar. “I’m also an avid backpacker, so I weave travel tales into my acts.”
One On One 2 (English/Hindi): Rajit Kapur, Zafar Karachiwala, Vrijesh Hirjee and others bring you eight monologues from the New India. Presented by Rage Productions
Ambu and Rajalakshmi (English/Hindi): Two cousins meet after years and share small vignettes about their lives. Presented by Naya Pata Kollectiv
The Race Course & Other Stories (English/Hindi/Marathi): An enactment of short stories about the unknown Mumbai. Presented by Playpen Performing Arts
Lal Batti Express (Marathi/Hindi/English): A play about the children of sex workers, performed by children of sex workers. Presented by Kranti
Jobless Actor Confessions (English): A series of events in the life of an unemployed artist, told through an intimate conversation. Presented by Marcin Zarzeczny, Poland
Dekho Magar Pyaar Se (English/Hindi): An intimate solo performance on using and transforming masculine stereotypes from advertisements, Bollywood and society. Presented by Caught in the Act
Jaise Sookhe Hue Phool Kitaabon Mein Mile (Hindustani): A unique presentation of Hindi and Urdu prose and poetry, adorned by music. Presented by Ekjute Theatre Group
Licence (Hindi): Based on a story by Manto, a look at the dark side of society and its treatment of women. Presented by Angana Theatre
Main Savitri Bai Phule (Hindustani): A tribute to Dalit icon and women’s liberation leader Savitribai Phule, directed by Anant Mahadevan. Presented by Ekjute Theatre Group
Jhumru & Jhumri (English/Hindi): Can a lion cub and a baby deer be friends?
ALL EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO ALL. TO VIEW THE FULL SCHEDULE, GO TO kalaghoda.hindustantimes.com