To the uninitiated, Bharangam (pet for Bharat Rang Mahotsav) is the annual theater festival of National School of Drama, Delhi. This festival showcases one of the best ensemble of modern theater from India and some other countries including Poland, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Srilanka. This year there is a small, but apt, focus on popular theater which is the heart and soul of the Indian theater history (and the present as well). And like all other major institutions of India and Pakistan, NSD has also decided to jump on the band wagon celebrating Saadat Hasan Manto’s centenary. All in all, there is a promising line up of plays, theatrical exhibitions and offsite projects. The schedule of this fortnight long festival is available here. For those interested in watching, please make sure to plan your ticket purchases.
DAY 1: 5th Jan 2013
And so another year has flown by and we are back to the grind that Bharangam has on offer. The food stalls are not up yet and the atmosphere is less than its usual pulsating self. But there is promise in the bone chilling Delhi air. Promise of some extraordinary theatrical experiences, revisiting of some old forgotten classics and above all, there is promise of inspirations. Buckle up and let the curtain drop.
Playwright: Mahesh Elkunchwar
Director: Vinay Sharma (Pradatik, Kolkata)
Like the plays of Tendulkar, those of Elkunchwar have a timeless tendency too. Although being specifically time bound in terms of narrative, they traverse through ages in order to probe the necessary. ‘Atmakatha’ is a self-reflective tale of an author past his prime and his relationships in life, with real people and characters of his texts. This reflection, though covered over an evening, travels through time innumerably and comes back with parallel points of view. This play with time can be treated ineffectively (or missed altogether) by many directors but Sharma rises above and uses a negative projection (over and through the actors on stage) to underline the confusion of what is real and what is not. The set moves to define spaces and almost act like the stars in the sky, constantly shifting and making fuzzy what was once so clear.
A playwright like Elkunchwar needs his texts to be taken on a creative ride through the minds of an understanding director. This alone will do justice to his creations, and to those of many like him who seem to have lost appeal in the face of ultra-experimental exhibitions or the pseudo-revered classic west.
Miniature Moments of Life
Design & Direction: Bimal Subedi (NSD Diploma)
Life is full of inane moments of nothingness. You cannot attribute importance to any such moment without a context, a background and maybe even hindsight. Bimal Subedi explores many such moments in a manner that prevents the audiences to delve deeper. The action is independent of the setting and vice-versa. A funeral preparation, masked meat playing ping pong inside a pressure cooker, couple’s rant, a road accident and ‘shooting’ youngsters. This is the play. But the politics, that such novel productions demand, is absent, or is well hidden beneath creative vomit.
No matter what form a theatrical exercise adopts, it has to be engaging.