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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for 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. 



At 75, IPTA continues its tradition of rewarding drama talent

At 75, IPTA continues its tradition of rewarding drama talent

Three milestones were established this year by the Indian Peoples Theatre Association (IPTA): firstly, it turned 75, secondly, 2018 marks the 100th birth anniversary of one of its pillars, the poet Kaifi Azmi, and thirdly, its annual Inter-College Dramatic Competition (ICDC) entered its 47th year, having begun in 1972. The Competition awards the best of talent in Mumbai colleges, for plays in Hindi/Urdu or the symbiotic language, Hindustani.

Twenty-six entries were received and twenty of them were eliminated some two weeks before the finals. Six finalists battled it out at the Tejpal Hall in central Mumbai on 03 October, when as many as eight prizes were on offer. Though the plays are on an average only 45 minutes long, there are long gaps in between stagings, for putting up sets. After spending some seven hours and seeing five of the six plays, I left for home. But a strange feeling stayed with me: what if the sixth play turned out to be the best of the lot? Expected symptom, when you run out of patience, and not wait for the results to be announced. But waiting would have meant at least another 2 hours, for after all the plays have been staged, the judges deliberate for another hour or so.

But I was in luck. All the prizes were shared by the plays I had seen. Kua Maa Doob Jaungi, the entry from M.L. Dahanukar College, deservedly won the best play trophy, named after Prithviraj Kapoor, the patriarch of the Kapoor family and the great grandfather of Ranbir Kapoor. It also bagged the Balraj Sahni trophy for Outstanding Performance. Sahni was one of India’s greatest actors and his son Parikshat continues the tradition. Wait a minute! Here’s another for Dahanukar: R.M. Singh Trophy for Best Director(s): Bhavesh Surte and Deepak Ghoghle. Singh is known for his large body of work within IPTA itself. A fourth award went Dahanukar’s way: A.K. Hangal Trophy for Best Actor, to Rajan Prajapati. Hangal came to films late but worked here till a ripe old age. He was also a towering figure in IPTA.

Manmohan Krishna Trophy for Second Best Production went to Nagindas Khandwala College, for the play 100x0=101. This was inspired by the 60s film Asli Naqli and must have just about made the cut for the second slot. Theatre and films writer-director K.A. Abbas has a trophy named after him, for Best Script, and that went to Hamne Kucho Nahi Dekha, written by Ajay Kamble and Abhishek Gaonkar (D.G. Ruparel College). The Kaifi Azmi Trophy is a critics award and that went to Drishti, performed by the students of Usha Pravin Gandhi College. For set and production values, and even innovative theme, the play stood out from the rest. And the last award was the Best Actress Award, bagged by Samiya Haque, for Drishti, an amazing performance.

Three judges were on long shift duty: Satish Shah, Avtar Gill and Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, all well-known actors of Mumbai’s theatre and cinema industries. Old-timer Subhash Dangayach was the compère behind the curtains, while the event once again bore testimony to the untiring efforts of IPTA veteran Ramesh Talwar. Among IPTA luminaries present were M.S. Sathyu, Sulabha Arya, Anjan Srivastava, Rakesh Bedi, Jaspal Sandhu, Raman Kumar, Masood Akhtar, and many more. One sorely missed the genial presence of Farooque Shaikh, who passed away some six years ago, after serving the ICDC for the best part of his life, most often behind the microphone.

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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 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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