Capital Fest, Manipuri Taste

Updated: Mar 28 2004, 05:30am hrs
The 6th Bharat Rang Mahotsav, NSDs annual National Theatre Festival inaugurated in the Capital on March 20 by film director Mrinal Sen and playwright/ actor Girish Karnad, promises rewarding fare by 73 theatre companies from India and abroad performing in 17 Indian and 3 foreign languages. The three-week-long festival opened with internationally renowned Manipuri director Ratan Thiyams stunning play on the ravages of war, Hey Nungshibi Prithivi (My Earth, My Love). Scenes of devastation, of brutal inhumanity in war, of rape, loot, murder, desecration sweep the stage in a relentless swell of horrific visuals scintillating enacted by a team of 30 actors. The terror is observed by an old woman who sits in a corner lamenting the fate of humanity as she weaves a cloth of hope and peace on her ancient loom. Ratans is a cry of anguish at the state of civilisation and an appeal for peace.

Several new features have been introduced this year. The first of which are two awards, one to be conferred on senior alumni of the NSD and the other to a young graduate up to the age of 50 years. The first award named after the late B V Karanth was bestowed upon poet, writer, director and founder of the Chorus Repertory Theatre in Imphal, Ratan Thiyam. Waman Kendre of Maharashtra which has worked extensively with folk traditions of the region was given the second award in the memory of actor Manohar Singh. Each award carries a cash prize of Rs 50,000. To mark the completion of 25 years of the NSDs Extension Department, the festival features an exhibition and significant productions prepared under the Extension Programme Workshops conducted in far-flung areas.

The second weeks offerings include Ila Aruns Jameela Bai Kalaali on the life of women wine sellers of Rajasthan, adapted from Peruvian writer Mario VargasLlosas La Chunga directed by K K Raina from Mumbai (April 3). On the same day there is a Kannada play by Sriranga, Kattale Belaku, directed by the late B V Karanth and also well-known Marathi director Vijay Kenkres Mitr. Another Manipuri director who has achieved cult status is H Kanhailal. His new work is Naosum to be performed at Kamani on March 29.

On March 28 watch Nag Bodas delightful musical comedy where the central character is Dilwar/Dilwari a female impersonator of the folk tradition. The young Assamese director Rabijit Gogoi, who impressed last year, brings the multi language Gaantha-the 1st Text (March 28). B Jayashree belongs to the famous Gubbi Veeranna family of company theatre performers. Her Manthara on the Ramayana characters in Kannada (March 29) is worth viewing.

Gursharan Singh, a social and political activist, stages Natak Munshi Khan Da in Punjabi (March 30). Also on 30th is Chokher Bali in Bangla by Runu Chaudhury. The presence of as many as five Manipuri plays in the week is proof of the vibrancy of the theatre movement in this eastern state. Of these M C Thoibas Disrupted Spring (March 31), L Kishworjit Singhs The Question (30th), are interesting.

Kannada director Prasanna stands tall amongst the senior NSD alumni. His version of Shakespeares Hamlet with Rangayan of Mysore (April 2) must not be missed. To get an insight into the life of call centre workers watch Arjun Rainas superb solo A Terrible Beauty Is Born on April 1.

Usha Ganguli, one of our leading women directors, stages her musical play on the Pandas of Varanasi, Kashinama on April 4. Happy viewing!

Bharat Rang Mahtosav; New Delhi; Till April 8