No takers for Pune’s Purushottam Karandak sad for the future of theatre: Fraternity

Published on Sep 19, 2022 11:43 PM IST

This is the 57th year of the Purushottam Karandak when for the first time, there are no takers for the Karandak

A play performed at the Purushottam Karandak last year. (HT FILE PHOTO)
A play performed at the Purushottam Karandak last year. (HT FILE PHOTO)
ByPrachi Bari

The judges of the Purushottam Karandak – one of the most prestigious one-act play competitions in the city – not awarding the Karandak (prize) to any play or anyone this year has raised concern over the decline of good one-act plays among theatre artistes and the media. This is the 57th year of the Purushottam Karandak when for the first time, there are no takers for the Karandak.

Trustee Mangesh Shinde, Maharashtriya Kalopasak, who organises the competition, said, “This is the first time in the history of the Purshottam Karandak that the Karandak has not been given to anyone or any play.”

“It is clearly stated in the rules and regulations circulated to the participating colleges that the judges’ decision is final and the organisers will abide by their decision. If the judges Himanshu Smarth, Purnima Manohar and Paresh Mokashi felt that none of the nine finalists were up to the mark, they decided not to give the Purushottam Karandak,” Shinde said.

Several theatre personalities agreed with the judges’ decision and did not hesitate to say that the quality of one-act plays is going downhill.

Yogesh Soman, playwright and one of the earlier judges of the Karandak, said, “There is nothing wrong with the decision of the judges, and the results are apt if they don’t find an exemplary play. In fact, post-lockdown, the quality of one-act plays has been going down. I find that the students sometimes think that a comedy is all about stand-up comedy which is not so. A play needs dialogues, actors and direction that are sadly lost in the plays seen during such Karandaks. I think the organisers should conduct orientation workshops before the actual commencement of the Karandak to keep the level of plays high.”

Prasad Vanarase, one of the winners of the 1987 Purushottam Karandak, echoed similar views. “If the judges feel that none of the plays presented are at par, they have every right not to give the trophy. When you participate in a competition, the rules are laid out in front of you which also state that the judges’ decision is final,” Varanase said.

This year, not only the Purushottam Karandak but also the Jairam Hardikar Karandak has not been awarded to anyone, Varanase said. Apart from the main trophy which goes to the best play, the judges of Purushottam Karandak have also not announced best director, best actor or best voice modulation which shows that the quality of plays has dwindled, he said.

Praveen Bhole, head of department, Lalit Kala Kendra, Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), said, “The Purshottam Karandak has to keep up the tradition of giving us the best of plays, actors and directors for the future of theatre. If the judges feel that no one is that good, it is indeed very sad for theatre and also shows the need for better written plays and better performances.”

Krushna Walke, who directed the plays that won the Purushottam Karandak in 2017, 2019 and 2021, said, “It is indeed sad to know that the Karandak will not be awarded to anyone. For every actor and director of one-act plays, receiving the Karandak is a stepping stone to a future in commercial theatre. But if the judges feel that the quality of plays is not up to the mark, they have every right not to award the Karandak to anyone.”

One of the judge, director Paresh Mokashi said, “We will sit together and put down our thoughts on why we took this step and release our statement via Kalopasak, who are the organizers.”

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