Visting 16th Bharat Rang Mahotsav (2014) @ Delhi, India
It was with great honour to attend the 16th BRM at National School of Drama, Delhi. In fact, Academy of Performing Arts were present in the previous editions of this International Theatre Festival of India. To be more precise in:
- 1998 – Seet Basant (I performed in the role of Bal Basant at Kamani Auditorium)
- 2002 – Ek Mouthi Mout
- 2003 – Jai Charandas Ki
- 2008 – Ghosts (produced by Ministry of Arts and Culture)
Hence in 2014, I was able to visit and appreciate the festival after a loong period of absence. The motivatation behind this visit was also the curiosity to learn and experience theatre of other countries/states, as during the National Drama Festival, organised by the Ministry of Arts and Culture, one appreciate local artistes’ (amateur / semi-professional) performances in 10 languages.
Well it all started with the choice of Emirates Airline for the choice of flight, because their ‘world class service’ is very famous. So did all the bookings with them and really was impressed with the comfort and international quality service as their passenger. I had done bookings of the drama shows on http://www.bookmyshow.com. This booking method, I found was very popular with major events occuring in Delhi. Was very excited also to use the new SSR Int’l airport.
I was well received by the National School of Drama staff and was able to pay a courtesy visit to the Directory of the NSD Repertoire Company and other classmates in dad’s batch of 1986.
The atmosphere of the festival was alive and could feel a great gathering of theatre lovers from different regions gathered here.
After my first ‘spicy’ lunch and brief visit of the campus, I regained the Guest House to relax and get ready for that night’s performances. Was very happy to attend the concert of famous Indianc Classical Vocalist – Rashid Khan, accompanied by Vijay Ghate on Tabla.
After a brief watch, then returned to ‘Abhimanch’ to watch my first drama in ‘Kannada’: Shakespeare Manega Banda. Well I appreciated the use of sets and its change during the different scenes.
On my first day in India starting on Monday, 13 Jan 2014, I went to visit some family members in Karkardooma via Metro. Then back to the campus, I was equiped with a local SIM card (Airtel) and a mobile phone. After a few photo shooting session, was able to attend my first show by NSD Diploma production entitled – Gimple, The Fool. Performed by NSD Graduates, I was impressed by the performance of Yash Sheety and Lapdiang as the main roles in this play set in Jewish setting. After a brief meeting with Yash in the NSD corridor, got to know that the team worked hard on this production for several months. The music for this production was meticulously researched and well executed.
Then I attended ‘Lament of Widow‘ at LTG Auditorium which is a few walks away from NSD campus. The perfect synchronisation between Live music and actor’s actions were very impressive. Also for the first time got to see Subtitles facility in the theatre with 2 TV set on each side. This was pretty useful for the audience who does not understand the play’s language.
Then at Night, I found my way to the famous Kamani Auditorium to appreciate – The Diary of Anne Frank, from Central Academy of Drama, China. Personally, I found the last scenes of the play very interesting. With the help of the subtitles, the audience was completely submerged in the performance. Must highlight the use of the projector displaying on the big white cloth to show a diary’s pages.
Below is a group photo of the troupe, accompanied with the Director of NSD and other eminent personalities.
On the next day morning, went to visit a friend – Jitu who brought me for some sightseeing. On the metro way, he asked me whether I have ever watched 5D movie. Poor me, didn’t had even heard of this term. So, I enjoyed my first 5D movie which was an adventure movie. After lunch in the NSD campus, I showed him a quick tour.
Then we went off for sightseeing at Jantar Mantar and Guru Dwara. We came back to Mandi House to watch the performance of Hey Manush (which was in Bengali) and Nights’ End.
After which Jitu was ‘bored’ and proposed me to do some shopping. We travelled to Metro after dinner at Domino’s Pizza.
On Wednesday 15 Jan 2014, I attended ‘Meet the Director‘ at NSD. it was a very nicely organised informal meeting with the directors of the plays staged on the previous day at the Festival. I was impressed by the quality of exchanges in the form of questions/answers.
After than I attended the Seminar ‘Global exchanges and Local encounters‘ from a theatre group coming from Spain. Was impressed by the exhibition of plays by Shakespeare at NSD in that hall.
At 4pm, I was at Shri Ram Centre to enjoy ‘Balkan Woman‘, a nice play on War in Hindi/Urdu. Well in this play, the use of Chorus to display the emotions and mood of the principal character was very interesting. The last scenes of the play carried intense emotions. Great performance overall from the theatre group from Lucknow.
Then watched ‘Thana Theke Aschi‘ by Kaushik Sen’s group Swapnasandhani at Kamani Auditorium. The set design is really impressive as well as the performance by famous actors Kaushik Sen and Kanchan Mullick. The role of the inspector and the reaction of the rich family involved in the suicide of a girl is noteworthy. This is also a contemporary play based on the English classic ‘An Inspector Calls‘.
On Thursday, 16 Jan 2014, at 10.30 am, attended ‘Meet the Director‘. The recording of 2013’s BRM can be found online: http://vimeo.com/57267633
Was very excited in fact to watch Hayavadana. Personally the Director tried to bring something new in this classic text by Girish Karnad, compressed in 1h 20mins. I did not like lots of things as many were not according to my expectations. The director assumed that the audience is used to see Hayavadana staged very often so in his final Graduate showcase, he wanted to bring something new. I appreciated the performance of the ‘Talking Dolls’ and is in fact inspired by this small act. At the end the appearance of the complete Hayavadana also is impressive – as a complete horse.
In the evening attended the famous actors’ cult production (mumbai) – ‘A Kind of True Story‘. For the first time got to appreciate live singing by all the actors on stage.
Then immediately I rushed to watch the performance of Zakir Hussein at Modern School. It was a great moment to be able to shake hands with him. His performance was more than Amazing!
Back to my hostel late night, I admit that I could not sleep well at night given I had other expectations in the play ‘Hayavadana’.
On Friday 17 Jan 2014, I was amongst the first to attend ‘Meet the Director‘ and the director or Hayavadana was present first. Coincidence!
During that session, I was able for the first time to speak. I introduced myself briefly and asked my questions about the play. I had the full attention of all the students, teachers and actors of the repertoire company.
Then attended the Seminar on ‘Use and Abuse of Tradition in Theatre‘.
During lunch time got the opportunity to meet a Critic. In the afternoon, the seminar continued and with Prof. Devendra Raj Ankur as Chairperson, it was very different and interesting!
In both productions the artists did very well. In Baawre Mann Ke Sapne, some audience member even did walked out as the story was feeling so real. The all round filled in stage sensation was there will all the girls surrounding their mother as she has to go to London.
In Ek Kutte Ki Maut, performed by NSD Graduates, they gave a complete different look and style. There was the use of Live Graphics, performance amongst the audience (almost giving a neckpain to some of the audience members). I was very excited to watch this play adapted from the classic English Text: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
On Saturday, 18 Jan 2014, was my last day attending the festival. Got to watch an Open Lawn Performance and it was great! In the day, got to do a visit at NSD’s classes and many other units – costume department, makeup room, performance room, TIE company etc. was impressed by the level of characterisation in ‘Kitchen in the Corner of the House‘.
Then Interestingly enough, wanting to watch the last performance – Awkward Happiness, for which I had the ticket, I rushed to Kamani Auditorium. However, arriving 10 minutes late, the gates were closed with a ‘House Full’ Panel. For the first time, I saw the fury of all the valid ticket holders wanting to watch the pay even arriving late.
I then went to watch the last day of the classical indian music performance ending with a Unique Tigalbandi by Usha Sharma, Meen Veena player and Rajasthani Singer.
On Sunday 19 Morning, was with friends where we met at Starbucks Coffee. We did some shopping at Karol Bagh then did an NSD tour and then went to watch 7D movie (though orignially we wanted to watch ‘Wolf of Wall Street’). In this way, I was not able to attend the closing ceremony of the BRM, being in the company of nice indian delhi friends.