“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances,” famously wrote William Shakespeare.
“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances,” famously wrote William Shakespeare. In the capital, a literal stage has been set, with exits and entrances, a smattering of megastars from the galaxy of art, theatre, dance and music as National School of Drama (NSD) celebrates its 18th Bharat Rang Mahotsav. The annual theatre festival has been moved by a month like last year — one of the many changes that the festival, sassily being called BRM 18, boasts of in its 18th edition. One of the many things that have also been quite interesting about this jumbo fest is its ability to pull Bollywood stars every year, especially this year with alumnus Pankaj Kapur making a comeback to NSD after three long decades to perform.
The veteran actor, who has won rave reviews for his diverse roles on television as well as the big screen received a thundering response to his one-act play Dopehri.
Dopehri is a novella written and enacted by Kapur with the help of lights and music. It has been set in the streets of Lucknow where sits the haveli of an old lonely woman, Amma Bi. The powerful narration by the talent powerhouse transported the audience through her journey from loneliness to self-discovery. The various moods in the narrative were shown with different lighting.
“My aim with the production of Dopehri was to realise if I can still perform theatre on stage or not. Also, I wanted to know if my work has reached the audience and how they respond to it,” Pankaj said the day after his performance. He added, “Whatever that is in the league, I prefer to do something dissimilar to it. Dopehri is one such production. It is a dramatic narration. So what if it doesn’t have the generally set aspects of theatre That doesn’t declare it a non-theatrical production.”
About the future of theatre and the need for its re-development, he asserted, “The method which has been going on since long, if followed without any development or changes may one day lead to the end of theatre. We need to understand why a certain performance has been done in a certain way rather than questioning why it hasn’t been done in the pre-conceived settings of our mind.”
The driving force behind NSD’s annual theatre festival, Waman Kendre, director at the institute, shared that film stars do add a touch of glamour to the event and he has been more than happy to receive legends like Kapur who serve as an inspiration to his students. He said, “We have been lucky and blessed to have alumni revisiting the campus and cine stars surely bring in their own set of glamour. However, besides them, we have a galaxy of talented artists who are as crucial to the festival as anyone else.” Talking about this year’s theme he added, “The theme is ‘Rediscover the Magic of Theatre’ and if you ask me whether theatre has lost its magic to be rediscovered, then I would say, not everything needs to be lost for us to rediscover it. Every year, theatre gains something new, even plays that have already been performed years ago find new meaning each time they are performed. What we are trying to achieve through this fest is something that would head towards the making of a singular yet mammoth platform comprising all the talents from India and outside to come together and share, exchange and inspire.”
The 18th edition will see approximately 125 shows of 80 plays, 65 of them from states across the country and 15 from countries around the world. Other countries include China, USA, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, Austria and Italy. There is also a Pakistani play this year.
At the inaugural ceremony students had also gotten to witness another side of actor Nana Patekar with lots of humour mixed with serious messages. The interaction was very unconventional since he sat at the stairs, surrounded by the students, and shared many light moments with them. Confessing his love for theatre, Nana had stated “Theatre is special because there is so much new to do every day on the stage. What you performed yesterday is gone, what you will perform the next day will be something entirely new. You can wear a new blanket of emotions every day.” About whether he will ever return to theatre, he said, “I am working with the framers and that is theatre for me.”
In the coming few days, the fest is about to witness performances by Anupam Kher, Paresh Rawal and Saurabh Shukla with plays like Mera Woh Matlab Nahin Tha, Barff and more.
Anupam Kher, who already paid a visit to the national capital during the inaugural day, had said, “National School of Drama has taught me not only the nuances of theatre, but I learnt a lot about life itself. Whenever I come back here, it is the best experience for me.”