The National School of Drama's Bharat Rang Mahotsav... Featuring 96 productions...

January 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM IST
MTG editorial

14TH THEATRE BHARAT RANG MOHATSAVThe National School of Drama ushers in the New Year by hosting the fourteenth edition of its annual national and international theatre festival, the Bharat Rang Mahotsav (BRM). The BRM this year will be offering a rich fare of 96 productions selected from across India and the world at 11 venues from 8-22 January 2012.

These performances are comprised of a variety of languages, idioms and styles, and celebrate multiple realities. Bharat Rang Mahotsav 14 will have English sub-titles, so that the plays can be understood by as many people as possible.

Over the last 6 years, each year a part of the festival has travelled to a second city, which have included Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow, Bhopal and Chennai. This year the BRM will travel to Amritsar, where 11 Indian and 7 international plays from the main fare will be performed.

The Focus on Tagore

As a tribute to Rabindranath Tagore whose 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated across the country, we present a focus on his genius as a visionary playwright and on his contribution to contemporary Indian theatre. This focus will include 17 productions, starting with the inaugural performance of Ratan Thiyam's new production, KING OF THE DARK CHAMBER. In JOURNEY TODAKGHAR (Manish Mitra) and KOTHAY PAABO TARE (Debashish Sengupta) Tagore's work is deconstructed and opened up for discussion. In the solos, STREER PATRA (Seema Biswas) and PATNI KA PATRA (Gita Guha), based on Tagore's short story, a woman's journey is given voice; and in KHUD AND KHUDA (K.N.Panniker) , the relationship between the individual and the universe is explored. There is a performance of CHANDALIKA (Usha Ganguli) and a dance drama of the same from Bangladesh. From Manipur there is a performance of HUNGRY STONE (Heisnam Tomba), and Padatik brings us the same as a dance drama in KSHUDITO PASHAN (Kamal Padhy). Another play in the dance-drama genre is VISARJAN (Sangeeta Sharma). And after a long time we have a performance by the differently-abled, presented by a group of visually challenged theatre practitioners in RAKTA KARABI (Subhashis Gangopadhyay).

The Tagore focus in the allied events includes AVANI (Anita Ratnam), an interpretation of Tagore's songs through the medium of dance; KAVYA KATHA (Chandrakanth Kale) transposes his songs and poems into Marathi; Nandikar presents Rabindra Sangeet with AMAR PRIYO RABINDRANATH (Swatilekha Sengupta) and Dinesh Khanna's AGNI PAKHI creates a collage of 4 of Tagore's stories interwoven with stories of female protagonists and paintings.

Added to this is a patua recitation by Kalyani Kalamandalam and the Patwa Chatra Group; an exhibition 'Where the Mind is Without Fear,' showcasing of rare archival photographs of Gurudev's own plays as directed by him; and a seminar on "Temporal Spaces, Corporeality and Embodiment in Tagore's Theatrical Works."

The Indian Segment

Apart from the Tagore focus, there are 79 other performances - adaptations, improvisations, devised work and traditional and folk-inspired renditions - reflecting on the complex contemporary languages of theatre practiced across India.

There will be contemporary explorations of classic texts like in Deepan Sivaraman's version of Ibsen's PEER GYNT in Malayalam, Praveen Kumar Gunjan's adaptation of Muktibodh's SAMJHOUTA in Hindi, and Raja Bhattacharya's presentation of E=mc2 based on Badal Sircar's TRIGSHO SHATABDI in Bengali.

Directors have also devised new scripts based on short stories, novels, archival material, history and oral narratives. Some of these include BEECH SHEHER (Tripurari Sharma) on communal violence, STORIES IN A SONG (Sunil Shanbag) on music-making in India, and ADI VIDROHI TILKA (Sheikh Khairuddin) on the first Santhal leader to organize an uprising against the British. CHAKRATHI CHARKHASUDHI (Raju Barot) based on the original by Dinkar Joshi, is directed as a performance using discussion and readings as a means to decode Bapu's message in our own times. PABITRA RABHA brings us Kino Kao presented by a group of little people, dwarves; Sandip Bhattacharya brings us SANTAAP that deals with the lives of eunuchs; and Sankar Venkateshwaran relies on the power of the visual in THE WATER STATION, executing the whole play in silence.

The 6 Shakespearean productions directed by Indian directors include BADSHAH PATHER (M.K.Raina) in Kashmiri, RAJA LEAR(Suman Mukhopadhyay) in Bengali, HAMLET (Ekbal Ahmed) in Kannada, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Daulat Vaid) in Mizo, RICHARD III (K.S. Rajendran) in Hindi, and a multilingual free-flowing perambulatory piece based on Romeo and Juliet called ROMEO, JULIET AND THE SECURITY GUARD presented by the students of Hyderabad University.

Dance, drama, song and text are interwoven into an intricate language of expression in choreographies like MEIDHWANI (Jayachandran Palazhy), DRAVYA KAYA (Navtej Johar), JALAM (Madhu Gopinath and Vakkom Sanjeev) and THE GAME OF DICE (Santosh Nair), communicate through movement and visual complexity.

From the NSD Repertory, there are two productions, BLOOD WEDDING (Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry) and HAMARA SHEHER US BARAS (Kirti Jain); while the School's final year students present their diploma productions.

The International Segment

The international dimension comprises 16 performances, equally varied in their theatrical vocabulary, stylistics & collaborative aspirations. Charged with an undercurrent of political anguish that resonates with the truth of our times, directors explore a range of texts and areas that include Schimmelpneig's THE GOLDEN DRAGON from UK, Jules Verne's TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDERTHE SEA from Italy, Euripides' ANTIGONE from Turkey, Mfundo Tshazibane's INKOSAZANA (a collaborative work between Indian and South African students), Starting Over from Israel, and Looking IN & OUT (a collaboration between Madoka Okada and Savita Rani).

Two productions from Pakistan, INSHA KA INTEZAA (Anwer Jafri) based on Beckett's Waiting for Godot, MERA RANG DE BASANTI CHOLA (Madeeha Gauhar) based on Shaheed Bhagat Singh, and THE LITTLE PRINCE (Arash Absalan) from Afghanistan, covertly evoke the turmoil that has overtaken our region. And in 4.48 PSYCHOSIS (Morten Krogh), we have a hard-hitting offering from Nepal based on the last play written by British playwright Sara Kane, who killed herself after writing it and before its first performance.

The Polish Focus

The festival also includes a special focus on Polish Theatre, which includes three productions: IN THE NAME OF JAKOBS is a hard-hitting piece of political theatre where questions of accepting a violent history are resurrected. GROTOWSKI-AN ATTEMPT TO RETREAT physicalizes through performance, the theoretical underpinnings and methodology of one of the most extraordinary of theatre practitioners of the 20th century; and in A CHORUS OF WOMEN untrained female actors orally render the woman's experience through the use of the human voice alone as expressive instrument.

Also as part of the focus, we have renowned scholar Prof. Byrski from Poland, who will give a public lecture on "Indian Classical Theatre."

Allied Programme/Events

Like every year, this year also a variety of events such as seminars, exhibitions, installations, puppet pieces and folk renditions, revolving around the larger area of performance and performance-making will be organized. These events will include talks and discussions, performative pieces and exhibitions.

The performances include GHOLA (Anupam Kaushik Borah), a conceptual art piece exploring the facets of a natural disaster through the body of the performer; KAMSA (Anurupa Roy), a giant puppet piece; THHELAWALA (Rajendra Panchal and Krishna Mahawer), an exhibition of objects with live sculptures; a band from Bastar (Anoop Ranjan Pandey), PATACHITRA (Santanu Das), and SYAH CHANDRA KA FUSE BULB (Robin Das), a process oriented dramatic piece based on the poems of Muktibodh.

BRM 14 will include 6 exhibitions - "Where the Mind is Without Fear" on Tagore; Life and Work of Jerzy Grotowski and Theatre Posters as part of a special focus on Poland; From the Natrang Archives, presented by the Natrang Pratishthan; NAGARIKA - the Seminal Research Series on Kalarippayattu from the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bengaluru; and one on the 70 year old history of the Central Academy of Drama, China, a premier institute of its kind in Asia.

About the National School of Drama

The National School of Drama is one of the foremost theatre training institutions in the world and the only one of its kind in India. It was set up by the Sangeet Natak Akademi as one of its constituent units in 1959. In 1975, it became an independent entity and was registered as an autonomous organization under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860, fully financed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

The Bharat Rang Mahotsav

The Bharat Rang Mahotsav was started a decade ago by the NSD in order to contribute to the growth and development of theatre across the country. From being a national festival that presented the work of some of the most creative theatre workers in India, it has grown into an international event, hosting theatre companies from around the world, and is today acknowledged as the largest theatre festival of Asia dedicated solely to theatre.

Please visit for more details about the schedule and the synopses of the plays.

*Mumbai Theatre Guide takes no responsibility for change in schedule

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