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Rangmandal formation draws artists’ ire

Efforts to revive theatre repertory of Bharat Bhavan- Rangmandal, which was closed down in 1999 after controversies, has found opponents at the very first stage.
Hindustan Times | By Shahroz Afridi, Bhopal
UPDATED ON JUL 23, 2013 10:24 AM IST

Efforts to revive theatre repertory of Bharat Bhavan- Rangmandal, which was closed down in 1999 after controversies, has found opponents at the very first stage.

The advertisement for vacancies of repertory artists and its terms came under criticism from artists of Bhopal.

More than three dozen theatre artists from Bhopal (several of them were associated with Rangmandal) met on Sunday to discuss the advertisement published in a local newspaper. Discussion focused on eligibility criteria for artists to get admission into Rangmandal.

Rajeev Singh, who convened the meeting, said eligibility criteria for artists require them to be a pass out of National School of Drama or Bhartendu Natya Academy or a pass out of MP School of Drama.

This would restrict entries only for students of these institutes. Another condition of eligibility is work experience of five years with some registered theatre group. “Rangmandal was originally established with the objective of giving a platform to artists from Madhya Pradesh who had no formal qualifications. This objective would be defeated,” Singh said.

“I don’t agree with age bar clause put for artists. Fixing artists in a particular age group, in this case, 30 to 40 years was unimaginable during Bharat Bhavan’s golden days. Age limit should be done away with,” said senior theatre artist Nazir Qureshi.

Nitin Tejraj, present in the meeting, said it seems that eligibility criteria has been formed in more bureaucratic and academic manner rather than adopting a practical approach, as it happened during old Rangmandal days.

“Some norms need to be framed to invite the best talent in Rangmandal. The eligibility criteria had been fixed by advisory committee of Bharat Bhavan,” said Pankaj Rag, trustee secretary. RANGMANDAL was set up as a repertory in Bharat Bhavan. This was the first ever repertory in the state and became the main creative spirit behind the now legendary Bharat Bhavan. Former director of National School of Drama, BV Karanth, was the first director of Rangmandal.

In Rangmandal, for the first time, folk professionals were used for training contemporary actors and the repertory also included folk performers among
Theatre critic Shakeel Khan reacting on the development said Rangmandal should be formed again.

“Whenever a new thing starts, controversies are bound to happen. I strongly believe that Rangmandal should begin. The biggest challenge before Bharat Bhavan administration would be to take Rangmandal to the same its members. Apart from Hindi, plays were also produced in dialects such as Bundelkhandi, Malavi and Chhatisgarhi, which created huge ticket-buying audiences.

It closed down in 1999 after controversies when legendary Habib Tanveer took over its reins.

Since then, efforts were on to restart Rangmandal. If everything goes as planned, then this repertory may see the light of the day once again by the end of August. heights as it was in 1990s,” Khan said.

On the other hand, Singh said he along with other artists would meet culture minister Laxmikant Sharma to press his demands.

“We would move the court if our demands are not attended to,” said Singh replying to what he would do if his demands are not met.

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