The 6th Bharat Rang Mahotsav, NSD’s 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 Thiyam’s 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. Ratan’s 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 NSD’s Extension Department, the festival features an exhibition and significant productions prepared under the Extension Programme Workshops conducted in far-flung areas.
The second week’s offerings include Ila Arun’s Jameela Bai Kalaali on the life of women wine sellers of Rajasthan, adapted from Peruvian writer Mario VargasLlosa’s 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 Kenkre’s Mitr. Another Manipuri director who has achieved cult status