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25 Years of Bharangam

January 31, 2024 19:30:57 IST
Deepa Gahlot


This year is the 25th anniversary of the National School of Drama's Bharat Rang Mahotsav-- Bharangam as it is popularly known-- so apart from New Delhi and a couple of satellite festivals in other cities, as is the norm, this year a selection of plays will travel to 15 cities over 21 days, with 150 performances lined up along with workshops, seminars and discussions. This year, the Rang Haat has been introduced, for theatre practitioners to be able to pitch proposals and aim for global collaborations, though details of the process was not shared at the press conference in Mumbai, addressed by NSD Director Chittaranjan Tripathy, the brand ambassador or Rang Doot, Pankaj Tripathi, along with Smita Thackeray and Brigadier Sudhir Sawant, representing two of the venues where the plays will be staged-- Mukkti Cultural Centre and Shivaji Mandir. NSD's Chairman, Paresh Rawal joined on screen and could communicate after many glitches. At some point, an exasperated Pankaj Tripathi kneeled down and helped fix the malfunctioning equipment. Later, he also said in response to a question by this correspondent, that he will consider acting in a play later this year

The opening show in Mumbai was meant to be HUMARE RAM, which was replaced by TAJMAHAL KA TENDER for an undisclosed reason. Five plays have been picked for Mumbai, besides this-- GAJAB TICHI ADA, BABUJI, THE ZOO STORY, TODI MILL FANTASY and SWAHA. At least two of these have had runs in Mumbai, so the selection seemed to have been rushed. It is, however, equally true, that a Festival attracts a crowd of viewers in Mumbai, a city where there is a thriving theatre culture.

According to the Director, Bharangam with 150 plays on the schedule-- both Indian and international-- is the largest theatre Festival in the world. This time, in an attempt to widen the audience base and also give opportunities to more performers, folk and tribal theatre as well as student productions will be included as platform performances along with the main programme. He also mentioned that there is an unprecedented number of productions by women directors-- 22 in all, plus two solo acts by Mita Vashisht and Lubna Salim.

The tag line for this year's Bharangam is "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam-Vande Bharangam" and an anthem, written by NSD alum Swanand Kirkire, will be sung live before every show.

Bharangam, started by then Director Ram Gopal Bajaj, is undoubtedly an important theatre event, and 25 years is a significant milestone. Some of the best actors, directors and technicians on the scene today--on stage and screen-- have graduated from NSD. There is a lot more talent to be tapped, observed Chittaranjan Tripathy, since only 30 among the many applicants are selected for the three-year course. He mentioned the possibility of setting up more training centres in the country. Hopefully some of the ideas put forward will be put into action soon.

*Mumbai Theatre Guide takes no responsibility for change in schedule.


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