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When theatre ruled the night at Pune’s Natyasattak Rajani

Puneites witnessed a night-long theatre fiesta, a comedy show and a special Urdu poetry session on Thursday.

pune Updated: Jan 28, 2018 16:15 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Natyasattak Rajani,theatre,pune
The Natyasattak Rajani at Balgandharva Rang Mandir on Friday also saw a large number of youngsters in the audience. (Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

On Thursday, it was business as usual at the Balgandharva Rang Mandir at 9 pm, but it was something special for theatre buffs who were eagerly waiting for an entire night of performances. Natyasattak Rajani, an all-night theatre festival, showcased the best plays of 2017 one after another and over 500 people sat through the night watching plays, including ‘Maunraag’ (monologue), ‘Deta Ka Karandak’ (could we have the trophy please?), ‘202 Elina’, Marathi stand-up comedy and culminated with ‘Sukhan’ (poetry and music performance group) on Republic Day morning.

There was excitement in the air as the crowd moved into the theatre on Thursday evening. The programme began with a ‘Natraj Pujan’ being performed by the special guest Arun Kakade of Avishkar theatre productions, and Madhuri Sahasrabuddhe, a renowned theatre personality. “I have come to be part of the special occasion, which is unique to Pune, and the evening was made special by the audience who paid and have come in large numbers. It is such enthusiasts who keep this all-night theatre tradition alive,” said Kakade.

The first performance was a play directed by Chandrakant Kulkarni called ‘Maunraag’. It was based on ‘Lalit Katha’ by Mahesh Elkunchwar and was enacted by actor Sachin Khedekar.Khedkar was all praise for the organisers for bringing back the glory of all-night plays. “It is a great initiative and it also shows how Pune functions as a cultural capital of the country. The interest and attendance of audience is what keeps such events alive,” he said.

After the first play, which audience defined as ‘deep and fantastic’, the Purushottam Karandak-winning one-act play ‘Deta Ka Karandak’ had the audience in splits with the fantastic comic timing and performances of Devendra Gaikwad and Paresh Devlankar. Milind Shintre, the director of the play, said, “ We had this tradition of all-night performances during the time of Bal Gandharva, who used to perform five or seven-act plays with 60 or more songs and used to keep his audience entertained. The fact that the programme has brought back this initiative is commendable.”

Following ‘Deta Ka Karandak’, ‘202 Elina’, a production by Theatron Entertainments, was performed on stage. The mime-act play has won many accolades across the state. Shivraj Waichal, Kaumudi Walokar, Suraj Parasnis and Virajas Kulkarni, the key actors, made sure that the audience did not lose interest despite the play beginning at 2 am. To keep the audience awake, the Bal Gandharva canteen was also pulling an all-nighter with a constant supply of hot batata wada and tea.

“Natyasattak Rajani is a unique festival that tried to explore new avenues in theatre. This is the second year of the festival and it's our pleasure that we performed this year too. Last year, we had two plays in Rajani and the festival was very well received last year. Thanks to the audience for welcoming such new ideas. We are hoping to receive the same response this year as well. A night full of performances is a very exciting idea for me and for anyone who is a theatre enthusiast,” said Suraj Parasnis, director of ‘202 Elina’.

Actors and theatre personalities were also a part of the audience. Musician Rahul Ranade and actress Mrunmayee Godbole too sat through the night enjoying the plays, sipping tea and discussing the issues portrayed in the plays.Marathi web channel Bhadipa brought a little relief with their stand up comedy, where comedians Sarang Sathye, Omkar Rege and Chetan Mule had the audience in splits with their exquisite performances.

Architect Vivek Dixit, along with the other Rotarians who were present at the programme, said, “It was a wonderful experience and a great way to catch up on some of the plays that we missed because of our work timings.”

By 4.30 am, there were more people walking in, especially for the final performance Sukhan, which began at 5 am. Sukhan is a kind of Mushayara (a performance consisting Shayaris, Ghazals and poems in Urdu). The programme had been the talk of the town since it was first performed at Jash-e-Rekhta, Delhi, for two consecutive years.

A group of 35 students from a college in Akurdi seemed to enjoy their night out. “It was my first experience and I enjoyed a lot, especially watching new plays such as ‘Sukhan’,” said Rutik Pawar, a student.

First Published: Jan 28, 2018 16:13 IST