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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 

 

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A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics

Gazab Teri Ada

A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics

DAY 1

MOHE PIYA

A tale from the epic Mahabharata.

Director: Waman Kendre, Director of the National School of Drama, organisers of the Theatre Olympics

Group: Rangpeeth, Mumbai

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 hour 30 mins.

Rating: ****

 

DAY 2

MAIN HOON NA (IN TIME AND SPACE)

A tale from the Mahabharata, about Lord Krishna.

Director: Bharti Sharma

Group: Kshitij, Delhi

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 hour 45 mins

Rating: **

 

DAY 2

MISSILE MAN

Director: Raja Anand

Group: Space Performing Art, Gautam Buddha Nagar, UP

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 hour

Rating: * ½

 

DAY 3

SONATA

Director: Sohag Sen

Group: Ensemble, Kolkata

Language: Bengali, English

Duration: 1 hour 20 mins.

Rating: ***

 

DAY 3

RASHMIRATHI

Director: Ravi Shankar Khare

Group: Darpan, Gorakhpur, UP

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 hour 15 mins.

Rating: ** ½

 

DAY 4

CODE MANTRA

Director: Rajesh Joshi

Group: Amardip, Mumbai

Language: Gujarati

Duration: 2 hours 7 mins.

Rating: *** ½

 

DAY 5

SHRI 420

Show: Wednesday, 28th March - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis: Shri 420 is an Indian adaptation of Molière’s masterful 17th-century French comedy Tartuffe. It was adapted into Hindi by Atul Tiwari and performed for Australian audiences in 2017. The plot revolves around a wealthy expat Indian, Om Prakash Bhatti who is a devout follower of a Charlatan Swami Tarkeshwarnath Anandpunjanandji. It is a hilarious play that explores how, in seeking a shortcut to spirituality, people fall prey to phony ‘420’ Babas and face its consequences.

Director: Saba Zaidi Abdi & Atul Tiwari

Group: Adakar Theatre and Cultural Group, Australia

Language: Hindustani

Duration: 1 Hr 40 Mins

Rating: No rating, since I saw only half of it.

 

DAY 6

AVUDAI

Show: Thursday, 29th March - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis: ​ ​

Director: Abilash Pillai

Group: Ardha Matra Trust, New Delhi

Language: Multilingual

Duration: 1 Hr 5 Mins

Rating: Could not see.

 

DAY 7

ALMOST ALIVE

Show: Friday, 30th March - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis:   Every day, we are exposed to a blast of information and impressions. But sometimes you just want to put this never-ending flow of stimuli on hold, if only for a little while, so you could catch your breath and feel your own heartbeat again. You shut your eyes and ears. Only to find that the images continue to reappear on the inside of your eyelids while echoes of voices and sounds keep on resonating inside your head. ​ ​ In Almost Alive, her third solo, Sabine Molenaar wonders what would happen when you withdraw yourself from the turmoil of the outside world and enter a timeless and boundless inner world. So she moves further away from reality and towards that dark place, where shelter and true peace of mind await her. Yet chaos and disorientation are also lurking. Slowly pulsating basses invite you into this shadowy universe. The black colour palette symbolizes both an end and a beginning: an atmosphere where Molenaar and the spectators can once again coincide with themselves. Almost Alive was made in close collaboration with multimedia artist Gertjan Biasino, scenographer and light designer Amber Vandenhoeck, and composer Jochem Baelus. It organically merges dance, video-mapping and animatronics, music and light.

Director: Sabine Molenaar

Group: Sandman, Belgium

Language: Non Verbal

Duration: 55 Mins

 

DAY 7

VIDYOTTAMA

Show: Friday, 30th March - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: Vidyottama is a story of a woman of extraordinary courage and fortitude. As the daughter of King Vikramaditya and wife of the much-celebrated poet, Kalidasa, she could have lived a carefree life under the protection of a doting father and loving husband. But she rejects a luxurious life and chooses a much bigger role for herself.

Director: Mohan Maharishi

Group: NSD Repertory Co. New Delhi

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 Hr 40 Mins

Rating: ** ½

DAY 8

TAJ MAHAL KA TENDER

Show:  Saturday, 31st March - 3 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: Emperor Shah Jahan invites the chief engineer of CPWD, Guptaji and shares his dream of building a monument in the memory of his late, wife, Mumtaz Mahal. After much deliberation, he comes to the conclusion that a mausoleum be built in her memory and he wants it to be named Taj Mahal. Guptaji, a shrewd, corrupt, official, entraps the Emperor in the snares of bureaucracy and red-tapism leading to many hilarious situations. The ridiculous bureaucratic procedure takes 25 years only to float the tender notice of Taj Mahal.

TajMahal Ka Tender is one of the successful satires of contemporary times.

Director: Chittaranjan Tripathy

Group: NSD Repertory Co. New Delhi

Language: Hindi

Duration: 2 Hrs

Rating: ***

 

DAY 8

XUAN ZANG'S PILGRIMAGE

Show: Saturday, 31st March - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis: Xuan Zang’s Pilgrimage is a traditional Chinese Yongju opera that portrays a historical figure, Xuan Zang (Hsuan Tsang), who started his westward pilgrimage from central China to India and returned to his homeland in glory, from 628 AD to 634 AD. The plot mainly develops in three episodes: the adventures on Xuan Zang’s journey, his study in India and his return in glory, shaping a vivid image of a great monk who upholds his faith and pursues truth on his way to explore Buddhism.

Director: Wang Xiangyun

Group: Nanning Academy of Ethnic Arts, China

Language: Chinese

Duration: 2 Hrs

Rating: Could not see.

 

DAY 8

GAZAB TERI AADA

Show:  Saturday, 31st March - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: Ghazab Teri Adaa is inspired by Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. The action of the play takes place in an imaginary time and place. It revolves around the never-ending aspiration for the expansion of kingdom and is a constant battle for the continuous fights in the battlefield. The groups of performers make the king aware about the future of the war. The fearful king rejects to see and understand the situation. All the women, with fear and pain, get together to stop the war under the leadership of Laya. They think of various alternatives to stop the war and finally decide that they will not allow their husbands to maintain any physical contact with them until the war stops. The violence-loving king and his war-loving soldiers break down in front of this unique, peaceful and non-violent protest by the women.

Director: Waman Kendre

Group: NSD Repertory Co. New Delhi

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 Hr 40 Mins

Rating: ***

 

DAY 9

KHAMOSHI SILI SILI

Show:  Sunday 1st April - 3 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis:

Director: Suresh Sharma

Group: NSD Repertory Co. New Delhi

Language: Hindi

Duration: 2 Hrs 20 Mins

Rating: Could not see.

 

DAY 9

PHERA

Show:   Sunday 1st April  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis:  Protima Singha comes back to her native village Bonpahari after almost thirty years. Bonpahari is a ​ ​ village so backward and poverty stricken that the people can only wait for a miracle to save them from the ​ ​ depths of utter despair. The miracle comes in the form of Protima Singha who promises to help them out, ​ ​ but only on the condition that the villagers kill Kashinath, her former lover who had jilted her when she ​ ​ was pregnant and as a result of which she had been forced into prostitution. Kashinath is helpless against ​ ​ their greed and their survival instinct, and is ultimately killed. Protima, who now has no reason left to ​ ​ live, kills herself.

Director: Poulami Bose

Group: Shyambazar Mukhomukhi, Kolkata

Language: Bengali

Duration: 2 Hrs 20 Mins

Rating: Could not see.

DAY 9

GHASIRAM KOTWAL

Show:  Sunday 1st April - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: After Ganesh Vandana the Sutradhar and the Chorus dressed as Brahmins, sarcastically describe the highly degenerated and hypocritical conditions of the society during the rule of Peshwa chieftan Nana Phadnavis. The Brahmins arrive at the Kotha of Gulabi Bai where Nana while dancing with Gulabi Bai sprains his foot. Gulabi Bai's Kannauji Brahmin servant Gharisam does not let him fall on the ground. Nana is highly pleased and presents him with a necklace. However Gulabi Bai and the gangsters of the Kotha forcibly snatch away the necklace moreover, Poona Brahmins conspire to declare Ghasiram a thief. Humiliated Ghasiram takes the vow of revenge and uses his beautiful daughter to secure the office of Kotwal. As a Kotwal Ghasiram turns into a tyrant for his foes, who are the Brahmins of Poona. In the meantime, Lalita Gauri who had been seduced by Nana dies in tragic circumstances. Nana remarries 7th time and his new wife is but 12 years old. Ghasiram’s burning desire to take revenge crosses all limits. Brahmins raise the banner of revolt against the Kotwal. Now Nana also wants to get rid of Ghasiram. After the cold-blooded killing of Ghasiram, Nana delivers a highly charged speech.

Director: Rajinder Nath

Language: Hindi

Duration: 2 Hrs

Group:  NSD Repertory Co. New Delhi

Rating: *** ½  

 

DAY 10

LOST PARADISE

Show:   Monday, 2nd April  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis: Kashmir is known as a paradise, but on 4th of January 1990 in this paradise, havoc wreaked on Kashmiri Pandits, the wounds of which are still raw. The Pandit population in Kashmir was 15% till 1947, but today only 808 Pandit families, a total of 3445, are left. For the past 27 years Kashmiri Pandits are helpless refugees in their own country. This play starts with the genocide of 1990. The story is about a play directed by a Kashmiri staying in Delhi for years, which is being invited for staging in Kashmir where Panun Natya Samaroh is scheduled to be held. The Mahotsav is aiming to convey the pain of the Pandits, and show how everything changed for them in a night, how their own people became their enemies. The actors, while going through this process, become stressed and decide to leave the play in between, but on the director’s counselling, rehearsal proceeds further. The Mahotsav gets cancelled, and the director vents out his frustration on the present system. In the end, all the artists move ahead with a positive decision.

Director: Aru-Swati Vyas

Group: Abhinaya Gurukul Cultural Educational Society, Jodhpur

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 Hr 35 Mins

Rating: Could not see

 

DAY 10

KAMLA KUBWARIR SADHU

Show:  Monday, 2nd April  - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: Darrangi Raja (King of Durranga) was greatly enamoured by the charm of beautiful Kamala and married her against her will. Kamala loved a shepherd, Harichandra. Although impotent, the king expected a child from this new queen. Chandrika, the royal servant welcomed the new queen and gave her a chance to meet her former lover to bring forth a child. Kamala got pregnant and the news worried the three queens. They conspired with Mangalati Buri, a soothsayer, who counselled the king that if he sacrificed Kamala the famine situation in the land will be resolved. This conspiracy was revealed by Chandrika to Kamala but Kamala decided to sacrifice herself for the people…!

Director: Simanta Phukan

Language: Assamese

Duration: 1 Hr 40 Mins

Group:  North East Theatre Academy, Golaghat

Rating: Could not see.

 

DAY 11

RAKT - ABHISHEK

Show:  Tuesday, 3rd April  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Director: D.P. Sinha

Group: Sanskar Bharti, New Delhi

Language: Hindi

Duration: 2 Hrs

Rating: Could not see.

 

DAY 11

PHANTOM (BEST OF 2007-2017)

Show:  Tuesday, 3rd April   - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: Phantom is the compilation of 15 different short pieces. It shows the best of the theatre group HILT’s work in last ten years. "Black light theatre" is the very special theatre genre based on optical effects of darkness and UV lighting. This genre originated in The Czech Republic in 1955. Costumes and stage props shine in the dark creating visual illusions. Each piece of this show is has a different style - love, autumn, winter or Africa, India, Czech folklore and more.

Director: Theodor Hoidekr

Group:  HILT Black Light Theatre, Czech Republic 

Language: Non Verbal

Duration: 1 Hr

Rating: Could not see.

 

DAY 12

BANJARA

Show:  Wednesday, 4th April  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis: Banjara is about the identity of women in different nomadic communities known as Banjaras of India. Banjaras are always on the move and never bound to one geographical area. Their identity is free flowing as against the rooted existential identity governed by documents which is more of a surrogate identity for them. What does this paradox mean to these women? How does this affect their existence? How do they juggle between these two identities, of being rooted and being fluid?

Director: Sajida

Group: Akshar Group, Dhampur (U.P)

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 Hr 20 Mins

Rating: ** ½

 

DAY 12

THE RESTAURANT OF MANY ORDERS

Show:  Wednesday, 4th April   - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: The Restaurant of Many Orders, is a dance-drama which focuses on the relationship between human beings and nature. Inspired by Japanese fairy tale writer, Kenji Miyazawa's novel by the same name, Hiroshi Koike created this production where three performers play the role of human beings and the beasts in the forests.

Three young men go to the mountain for hunting. The weather becomes bad and there is a storm. They try to take shelter from rain but they can't find a good shelter. Suddenly, they see a restaurant, The Mountain Cat Inn Restaurant. On entering the restaurant the hunters get many written ‘orders’. Feeling strange, they do what is written. Meanwhile, two of them realize that the third man is missing. They enter another room and find delicious food laid on the table. Eating greedily, they find a piece of cloth of the third hunter in the dish. They realize that they have eaten the body of their friend and run out of the restaurant facing the big storm.

Director: Hiroshi Koike

Group: Super Theatre Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project, Japan

Language: Multilingual

Duration: 1 Hr 20  Mins

Rating: Walked out.

 

DAY 13

PARITRAN

Show:  Thursday, 5th April  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis: Mahabharata, the vision of Vyasa, is timeless. In Mahabharata, the glory and purity of pure compassion of Shri Krishna, the charioteer, is all-pervading.  With his benediction, Pandavas and Panchali attained peace. The journey towards heaven (Swargarohan Parva) is its witness.

The opening scenes of Paritran are based on the Udyog Parva. The play shows that this war isn’t between Karna and Arjun or Duryodhana and Bhim; it is between Krishna and Shakuni. Shakuni says, “the one who is strong is the religion”, whereas Krishna says “the one who follows religion is strong”.

The competition is between Strength and Religion.

Director: Rajoo Barot

Group: Ahmedabad Theatre Group, Ahmedabad

Language: Gujarati

Duration: 1 Hr 30 Mins

Rating: Could not see.

 

DAY 13

BALLADYNA

Show:    Thursday, 5th April     - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: Balladyna and Alina are sisters who live with their mother in a poor hut in the middle of a forest. A nymph Goplana – the queen of the Gopło Lake - is in love with Balladyna’s beloved, Grabiec, and because of her jealousy she intervenes in peoples' lives and changes their destiny. To the sisters’ hut comes a rich prince Kirkor, who was led there by Skierka, Goplana’s servant. Goplana wanted Kirkor to fall in love with Balladyna so that Grabiec could be just hers. However, Skierka made a mistake and Kirkor fell in love not only with Balladyna, but also Alina. In order to get a husband, the sisters compete with each other in collecting raspberries; the one who fills a pitcher first will marry Kirkor. When Balladyna finds out that Alina is winning, she kills her with a knife.

Director: Katarzyna Deszcz

Group: Aleksander Wegierko Drama Theatre, Poland

Language: Polish

Duration: 1 Hr 30  Mins

Rating: Could not see.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

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