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Multi lingual plays at Hyderabad

DIFFERENT TALES, DIFFERENT TAKES

SHYAMHARI CHAKRA

Thought-provoking plays marked The National Theatre Festival

Classic retold‘Nagamandala’ touches hearts in its Oriya version.

A small town on Orissa coast, Paradip, is known to the nation as a port town. But with the annual national theatre festival being hosted in the town by CANMASS, a local cultural outfit, for the past seven years, the town has a distinct identity in the cultural canvas of the nation.

The recently-concluded seventh edition of the festival, spanning over 11 evenings and featuring plays in several Indian languages and dialects — Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi, Oriya, Sambalpuri — emerged as the best event of its kind in the state in recent years. Touching upon the human nature of desire, Mahamayee, the Oriya play staged as the opening play of the festival by Bhubaneswar-based Rangadhara theatre group, was directed by Choudhury Bikash Das. An acclaimed actor in films, Das was able to generate the desired intensity in the actors to suit the emotion-packed plot.

The other Oriya play in the festival — Mahajatra — was also crafted by well known film personalities — script writer Subodh Patnaik and director Hara Patnaik. The play portrayed the plight of senior citizens.

The best Oriya play of the festival was, however, the Oriya adaptation of Nagamandala, the Girish Karnad classic that won hearts. Ramakant Mishra’s intelligent adaptation of the complex story into typical local milieu as the script-writer and director deserve a special mention.

Tribal concerns and folk theatre

Ssh, a play in Sambalpuri dialect, had a touching theme — the bond between a bear and a tribal family. It questioned the so-called concern of the forest department for wild life with its rules devoid of humanism. Satya Ranjan Behera, founder-director of Shree Cultural Association of Sambalpur that staged the play, scripted and directed it. Similarly, Moghul Tamasha, the exclusive folk theatre tradition of Orissa that was invented to promote Hindu-Muslim harmony three centuries ago, was a pleasant surprise for the audience and the theatre troupes from outside the state.

The festival had a Kannada play — Bepputakkadi Boleshankar — presented by Kinnara Mela troupe from Tumari in Karnataka. Scripted by Chandrasekhar Kambara and directed by K.G. Krishnamurty, a NSD product, the play raised several disturbing questions on the misuse of modern technology. The other NSD trained director and the lone woman director of the festival was Harvinder Kaur who staged her play Naalmere koi chale by New Delhi-based Nat Katha troupe. The play attempted to explore the intensity of human relationships. Being an acclaimed stage actress herself, Kaur was quite impressive in the lead character.

The festival had the highest number of Hindi plays: Ayodhya Babu Sanak Gae Hain (staged by Sambhav, New Delhi and directed by the well-known Devendra Raj Ankur ); Jasma Odan (presented by Bhopal-based Dost theatre troupe and directed by Alok Chatterjee); Saudagar and Sidhi aur Sidhi Tukke Pe Tukka, both by Rang Vidushak troupe from Bhopal and director Bansi Kaul. Kashmir-born Kaul proved his potential as a dynamic director with adaptation of the popular play by Brecht into Saudagar.

While Kaul was conferred the CANMASS Lifetime Achievement Award for theatre, presence of a number of prominent theatre personalities like Karnataka Natak Academy chairperson B.V. Rajaram, festival director Dolgobinda Rath, noted playwright Ramesh Chandra Panigrahi and eminent theatre personality S.G. Kapanna added dignity to the festival.

The festival was supported by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, National School of Drama (NSD), Paradip Port Trust, Eastern Zonal Cultural centre, Kolkata and Government of Orissa besides Karnataka Natak Academy, Madhya Pradesh Sanskriti Sanchanalaya and Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal.

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