A Battle of Life That I Will Win| Bansi Kaul

Celebrated Theatre Director Designer Padmashree Bansi Kaul’s letter of courage and determination on Social Media, as he fights cancer and exhorts everyone to build a better world

A scene from Saudagar Directed by Bansi Kaul

My very dearest friends!
My best wishes and love to all of you… to all those performers from across the country who have the cultural events I designed the most amazing spectacles… and to every person I have met on this journey called life. I have not been able to thank all of you for good wishes on my birthday.

I have been unwell and have been detected with cancer of the brain as well as the lungs. Yet I am sure I will pull through and that we will soon meet again. Your good wishes are my strength.

There is a little folk metaphor, which I think is important for all of us. Nature has given us the choice to call it God or faith to create your own heavens for yourself. Therefore, what you do… you do all kinds of bad deeds to reach that heaven. For this you kill each other… and therefore, when we reach heaven, we realize that our rules and conditions do not work thee. We come face to face with two gates. One leads to the heaven that you have created for yourself… and the other gate is one that gives you the entry to inner peace. There is none of the worldly joys that give us only momentary joy and satisfaction.

This second gate leads to an amazingly beautiful world. So, thus, here too you must decide whether you will enter the gate for which you have fought? The world here no longer works according your whims and fancy. Your rule works so long you are a part of this transient world. In this short-lived world one wants to reach heaven at any cost, be it murder, plunder, or cheating. One is foolish enough to believe that this is best path to heaven.

Every community has its own imagination of what heaven might be. But when one is confronted with those two gates, one must decide which gate to enter… the gate that leads to the heaven that you have imagined or the gate that leads to inner peace, love, kindness and faith, where being there for each other is most important.

There will be no space for making mistakes in this final choice. The decision to enter one of the gates will only, and only, be yours! We are in times where displacements are the rule… displacements from physical spaces, nature, and natural sounds, from cultures, from one’s own family and friends. Scenes of daughters and sons carrying their aged parents across the country to a safer place during the lockdown, and children falling asleep on suitcases being rolled along are etched in my mind. All these painful experiences must be stopped.

Children falling asleep on suitcases being rolled along are etched in my mind – Bansi Kaul

This can happen only when there is a sense of general well-being. Lal Ded says,

“In the midst of the sea, with unspun thread I am towing the boat; would that God grant my prayer and, ferry me too, across…” .

(Lal Vakh. No. 23)

We all need to hold a single rope to tow the boat of goodness, peace, mental and physical well-being, gratitude, kindness, and magnanimity across the sea of life.

So, dear friends… killing, hating, plundering, and cheating… all in the name of belief and faith will bring nothing. All of us must love each other, which can happen only if you get rid of hatred. The act of throwing a stone of hatred at someone has its repercussions. It will rebound. The hurt ultimately comes to oneself.

And so, we must make more and more friends to make the world a better place to live in. We need to pave a strong, durable long-lasting path for the coming generations. Let’s give them a better world. When we say we are 60% young India, let us not forget that after twenty years or so there will be a 100% old India! We must start thinking about this… and think fast. There must be a sense of collective strength. Strength can only be in togetherness, and in togetherness there are memories.

Padmashree Bansi Kaul

I smile reliving these memories. My smile turns into laughter. Laughter celebrates the miniscule cosmic interval between birth and death. In laughter I see celebration and protest at once. It becomes force to cut through every form of negativity. Therefore, laughter must be celebrated! – Bansi Kaul




Theatre Legend Ebrahim Alkazi Passes away / Manohar Khushalani

Ebrahim Alkazi

Theatre doyen and legendary Pedagog Ebrahim Alkazi, who shaped proscenium theatre in India, died peacefully on Tuesday afternoon after suffering a heart attack, his son, Feisal Alkazi, informed us. Feisal told me the whole family was proud of his fathers humongous achievements. A career spanning 74 active years he passed away at 94.

The funeral will take place tomorrow at Jamia Milia VIP Grave Yard. But outsiders have been politely told to stay away, for their own safety, away due to the prevailing pandemic. The entire family comprising among others Feisal Alkazi, Radhika Alkazi, Amal Allana, Nissar Allana were present in Delhi.

Mr. Alkazi, has been the longest serving director of the National School of Drama, produced plays such as Girish Karnad’s “Tughlaq”, Mohan Rakesh’s “Aadhe Adhure” and Dharamvir Bharati’s “Andha Yug”. He mentored generations of actors, including Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri. M.K. Raina, Bhanu Bharti, Sonu Krishen, Manohar Singh, Surekha Sikri, Uttara Baokar, Dolly Ahluwalia, Ram Gopal Bajaj, the list is endless.

According to Wikipedia, He was born in Pune, Mahrashtra, Alkazi was the son of a wealthy Saudi Arabian business man trading in India and a  Kuwaiti mother.[8] He was one of nine siblings. In 1947, the rest of his family migrated to Pakistan while Alkazi stayed back in India.[9] Educated in Arabic, English, Marathi & Gujarati Alkazi was schooled in St. Vincent’s High School in Pune and later St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. While he was a student at St Xavier’s, he joined Sultan “Bobby” Padamsee’s English theatre company, Theatre Group. Thereafter he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London in 1947.[7] There he was offered career opportunities in London after being honored by both the English Drama League and the British Broadcasting Corporation, however, he turned the offers down in favor of returning home to rejoin the Theatre Group, which he ran from 1950 to 1954.[3]

Early on in his career he got associated with the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, which included M.F.Husain, F.N.Souza, S.H.Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta, artists who were later to paint from his plays and design his sets.[7] In addition to his directing, he founded the Theatre Unit Bulletin in 1953 which was published monthly and reported on theatre events around India. Afterwards, he established the School of Dramatic Arts and became the principal of Bombay’s Natya Academy.[3]

As the director of the Nationa School of Drama Alkazi revolutionised Hindi theatre by the magnificence of his vision, and the meticulousness of his technical discipline. Here he was associated with training many well-known film and theatre actors and directors. While there he created the Repertory Company in 1964 and directed their productions until he left.

He also founded Art Heritage Gallery in Delhi with his wife, Roshan Alkazi.

Alkazi won many of India’s most prestigious awards, creating an awareness of theater’s sensibility and successfully mixed modern expression with Indian tradition.[3]

He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishtan’s the Tanvir Award (2004) for lifetime contribution to the theatre.[11] He has received awards including the Padma Shri (1966), the Padma Bhushan (1991), and India’s second highest civilian award the Padma Vibhushan in 2010.[12]

He has also been awarded twice by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Direction in 1962, and later the Akademi‘s highest award the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution to theatre.




Marathi Veteran Actress Lalita Kenkre no more

Lalita Kenkre, a Still from Pandit Raj Jagannath

A popular actor of yester years, Lalita Kenkre, passed away in her sleep peacefully on 28th July 2020 morning. She was 86. Wife of noted theatre director, actor, designer Damoo Kenkre, mother of director Vijay Kenkre, Lalitatai was the sister of Sudha Karmarkar, and along with her, a noted actor herself who did many major roles in Sahitya Sangh and Lalitkaladarsh. She was a student of Parshwanath Altekar and a contemporary and colleague of Vijaya Mehta. Coming from a traditional background of Sangeet Natak, she made a mark in plays by P. L. Deshpande, Vijay Tendulkar, Vidyadhar Gokhale, Shirwadkar. With her passing, Marathi theatre has lost a major actor. Lalitatai did memorable roles in films, especially of Sai Paranjape, Katha being one. मृतात्म्यास सद्गती लाभो.
Lamenting her death, Kamlakar Sontakke said; “Lalita Kenkre was a versatile actor of Mumbai Marathi Sahtya Sangha. She was supportive of young Theatre people and experimental groups. May her soul rest in peace”.

Lilette Dubey adds: “For me she was full of love and warmth .. we rehearsed for 5/6 years in her top flat (which she gave generously to theatre wallahs ) in Kala nagar .. with on the house tea and often snacks ! God bless her .. she will be missed!”

RIP Lalita Kenkre




About Charan Das Sidhu and his Plays by Manohar Khushalani

Dr. C. D. Sidhu

Shakespeare’s Daughter & Other Plays

Shakespeare's Daughter & Other Plays
College Will Be Closed Tomorrow

This article was supposed to be a book review, but because one had known the playwright, Dr. Charan Das Sidhu, so intimately, the personal note is unavoidable. My mind races back to 1978 when I started my theatre career with Badal Sircar’s ‘There is No End’ an English rendition of his Bengali play ‘Shesh Nei’ directed by Tejeshwar Singh. Among the elite IIC Theatre Club audience was a stocky, dark, bespectacled professor of English from Hans Raj College, Delhi University, who spoke in what I later came to know as his irreverently rude but affectionate style. I saw this gentleman again in the next play that I acted in; Utpal Dutt’s Chayanat directed by Rati Bartholomew, and also the next and the next. Out of the 47 odd plays that I acted in, he was invariably there in the audience. This is not to suggest that he was a fan of mine or a critic who was following my career vigorously. I saw him invariably in the audience even in the hundreds of plays in which I too was in the audience. Dr. C.D. Sidhu was an avid theatre connoisseur who can take your breath away by the intensity and seriousness with which he follows theatre of all kinds, good bad and ugly. No wonder that when the Sahitya Akademi Award winner set out to write his first play in his mother tongue, Punjabi, it had to have the wisdom of so much theatre distilled into his script.

May 1979 was the first time I saw the play ‘Bhajno’, written, produced and directed by Dr. Sidhu was in ‘theth’ (pure) Punjabi as it is spoken in rural Punjab. It was a refreshing experience. Because it was very different from the urban Punjabi dialect one had heard all the time in Delhi. The spoken dialect was earthy and one became aware for the first time of the great depth in this vivacious language. The same can be said about his other plays such as Baba Bantu. These plays were also staged at a time when Punjabi theatre had got associated with double entendres. By contrast his theatre came like a breath of fresh air. Writers Workshop has come out with an English translation of his collected works under the title ‘Shakespeare’s Daughter & other plays’ and who could be more competent than the English professor to do it himself. In fact he is also a well known expert on GBS and his book The Pattern of Tragicomedy in Bernard Shaw (published by Bahri and Sons) is a study on Shaw’s dramatic work in the light of his theory of drama in general and of tragicomedy in particular. Some of his students, like Vinod Dua, swear by him as an English literature teacher. “He introduced me to Shaw whose ‘outlook to life’ and Dr. Sidhu’s ‘act of life’ have been a great source of inspiration for me.” Vinod also recalls that although Sidhu was a MA PhD from University of Wisconsin, he wasn’t a victim of snobbery. In fact he had no hesitation in even teaching English BA pass course students – something that lesser qualified Professors would consider infra dig. In those early days of theatre funds were not easily available (not that things have changed radically now) Sidhu was known to have produced his plays by withdrawing funds from his provident fund. Sidhu has been awarded both as a playwright and as a Director. Although opinion about him as a director may vary, there are no two opinions about his abilities as a playwright.

While the scope of this review is not to go into each of the plays in great depth but one will dwell briefly on them in general Indumati and Satyadev was the first play that Dr. Sidhu wrote, way back in 1973 but it saw the light of day many years later. It was planned as a sequel to Kalidas’s Shakuntala. On the surface it appears to be about conflict between Aryans and Tribals. It inks some of his early thoughts about nations, war, peace, truth & falsehood. He has used Icons like Rama, Ravana, Krishna, Manu, Chanakya freely to project the viewpoints they represent and some times his own opinions about the way the lead their life. Laxman is the devoted keeper of his brother, Rama, whose wife he worships while neglecting his own Baba Bantu is about a feudal lord Sarban and his terrorizing a bonded labourer, Bantu, who is also an expert on curing people from snake bites. Bantu has been blessed with these powers on the condition that he cannot refuse to cure anybody of snake bites. While the Landlord sexually exploits Bantu’s daughter, Satti, the landlord’s wife does the same to his son, Bihari – using him as a sex object. In a series of twists and turns, Bihari is electrocuted and Sarban snake bitten but Bantu refuses to heal the oppressor and loses his power of healing in the process. The College Will Be Closed Tomorrow is a seething expose of University politics that cuts mercilessly across political as well as hierarchic divide. Built around a sex scandal and a suicide, it spares neither the leftist nor the rightist, neither the teacher nor the student. Each of the scripts is radical and also radically different from each other. Shakespeare’s Daughter is about the personal renaissance of a newly married Kamla who overcomes her timidity and shyness to emerge as a bold and daring writer thanks to a visitation of William Shakespeare in her dream. The girl is beset with typical in-law problems related to Dowry taunts and blames of Infertility but finally dares to leave her husband – her famous last line to her husband, Dwarka, “I may be a sinner. With Shakespeare’s King Henry V I repeat:

But if it be a sin to covet honour
I am the most offending soul alive
I will continue to commit this sin!
I will continue to covet honour!
All my life!

That thought in fact seems to be the basic string in all his plays. The search for dignity truth and honour




An Opportunity to Look East – IIC Experience | Manohar Khushalani

Being Human The Play
Being Human – The woman with sagging breasts

Condensed Version Published in IIC Diary Nov - Dec 2018
During the North East fest on Monday, the 29th October, 2018, at the Fountain Lawns, the audience was confronted by a disturbing solo performance by actor director, Lapdiang Syiem from Meghalaya, called A Being — Human; Being Human Human Beings. She was supported by a one man multitasking band, Apkyrmenskhem Tangsong, who played a variety of Khasi folk instruments, such as; maryngod, bisli & ksing. The play opened with Syiem emerging from the audience, with sagging breasts provocatively stitched to her costume, challenging at the top of her voice with the agonized delivery of an embryo symbolized by a balloon emerging from her womb. Later many balloons were burst on stage, as if they were marginalised humans whose survival didn’t matter. Besides portraying angst about loss of identity, dislocation and violence, one also perceived reflections of real life events being portrayed abstractly, but, at the same time, the finger pointing at the audience was also implied, though unobtrusively. It was as if they were accomplices in the death of a mother, Ka Likai, who upon learning about the death of her daughter in hands of her current husband, jumped over the water fall, which is named after her – Nohkalikai Falls. Then there is Sophia, the robot programmed to behave like a human being, who is a Saudi citizen, who also wants to bear a child without having a clue about the pangs of child birth. It wasn’t as if she was only challenging the ruling class, Syiem also had a dig at the Khasi tribal society which disowned a woman who married a non Khasi.

The Vibrant ambiance at the IIC North East Festival 2018

Earlier on the same day we had a presentation by Soli Roy about a Manipuri play, Crimson Rainclouds, written by his own mother, Sahitya Akademi Awardee, Binodini Devi (1922–2011). The play draws on the playwright’s dialogues with the eminent sculptor, Ramkinkar Baij (1906-1980), with whom she studied in Santiniketan, and who has left behind a big collection of sculptures and paintings of Binodini. Born a princess, she broke free unhindered by her royal past, to live life to the hilt as a creative commoner, and evolved into an iconic Manipuri modernist, through her outstanding contributions to poetry, visual arts and dance. Collaborating with filmmaker Aribam Syam Sharma, she also scripted his award winning films.

There was a heartwarming poetry reading session by following poets of the North East. Anice Pariat, Anjum Hasan, Mona Zote, Lalnunsanga Ralte, Mamang Dai Guru & T. Ladakhi However all poems read out at the event were in English, some wrote only in that language, others did write also in their mother tongue, but chose to read out only the English ones. Due to lack of space I share a poem only by T. Ladakhi

Memory

Separated by twelve years,
both born in the year of the snake.
She was the youngest child
and he the eldest son.
My uncle is the head of his clan.

Soon after my mother died
just shy of her 53rd birthday,
my uncle stops imprinting his memory
as if it did not matter anymore.
I remember my mother’s tender story,
how he carried her as a fading child on his back
trekking for several days to “Phur Chachu”-*
invoking the gods with his fierce love-
a brother grows taller and taller in a little girl’s eyes.

I meet him now and then since twenty two years ,
drooped are his broad shoulders,
gone is his ruddy vigour.
He bothers me for some tobacco and rum
this time I carry none.
Memory and awareness are the materials of the mind,
but time is a fabrication.
Amidst obviously embarrassed cousins,
he inquires who I am and to state my purpose of visit.
I tell him I’m his kid sister’s son,
he looks at me most incredulous,
my grey beard finally pulling the rug under him.
He beckons me to his side and declares
that I’m a most disgusting low-life liar.
* the holy hot water spring in South-Sikkim, India popular among pilgrims seeking cures.

Condensed Version Published in IIC Diary Nov – Dec 2018
IIC EXPERIENCE: A FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS, 2018 Special Issue




Aurangzeb – a critique of the play by Manohar Khushalani

A review of the play performed at IIC in March 2013
First Published in IIC Diary March April 2013

The story of Aurangzeb is well known. In 1657, Emperor Shahjahan fell ill, leading to a war of succession among his four sons, The main contenders were Dara Shuko and Aurangzeb supported by their sisters, Jahanara and Roshanara respectively,

The Emperor, however, favoured his eldest son Dara, who, was conveniently present at Agra and willing to undertake his financially wasteful project of building a black-marble-masoleum for his father on the other side of Yamuna river facing Mumtaz’s Tajmahal. The playwright, Indira Parthasarthy, through Ideological Interplay and historical references to the earlier secular reign of Akbar, has brought out the inner conflicts of the characters.

The Director K.S. Rajendran has evolved a gripping tale through his presentation. The set was erected in the IIC rose garden. By relocating simple elements such as an arch, a make shift throne, a stool, Rajendran was able to switch the ambience from a palace, to a prison, to a war-zone. It was a treat to watch intense performances by actors playing Aurangzeb (Mahendra Mewati), Roshanara (Priyanka Sharma), Dara, and Shahjahan (Neelesh Deepak). In different productions, one has seen very different interpretation of the same historic event.

Ajoka theatre group from Pakistan presented ‘Dara Shuko’, in Bharat Rang Mahotsav, in 1911, which was totally empathetic to the elder brother Dara. Rajendran’s play empathised with Aurangzeb, highlighting him as a tragic figure who was repentant in his old age. The play was written during Emergency and in some ways reflects the political compulsions of that time as well.

Manohar Khushalani
March 20, 2013

Aurangzeb
Aurangzeb – The Play
First Published in IIC Diary March April 2013




Romeo, Juliet and Seven Clowns | Manohar Khushalani

Romeo Juliet & Seven Clowns
Colourful Costumes Lively Production

A Review by Manohar Khushalani
Published Earlier in IIC Diary May-June 2013

The only thing this play had in common with Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is the story line on which the spoof is based. Thankfully, the names of characters had been kept the same as those in the classic, otherwise one would have been at a loss on how to relate to the title of the play. The story has been given the look and feel of a folk lore in the tradition of romantic tales, such as those about; Umar-Marvi, Reshma-Shera, Sasi Punoh and what have you. Purple Mangoes is essentially part of, CEVA, a street theatre group, and it was therefore far more challenging for them to put up such an abstract, but artistic, rendition of the theme. Yet, they managed to pull it off as a stand alone theatre piece, but, it was definitely not Shakespeare. Which is why, one came across such divergent reactions from the audience. Not withstanding, everyone danced with the performers at the end.

The director of the play was Sukhmani Kohli, a woman, yet there were no women in the play. Even Juliet was performed by a male actor, who however, never made us feel the absence of a female cast. The choice of Bulleh Shah’s Sufi poetry would ordinarily have been considered bizarre, yet again, it was some how carried off, perhaps, because the group, which performs largely in rural Punjab, preferred drawing from its own roots.

Experimentation had been unleashed with aplomb in this play. The biggest. being the usage of clowns as tragic figures. According to Kohli, the play is an attempt to go beyond the traditional idea of the red nosed clown who makes people laugh, and see it as an essential part of a human soul that is naïve, warm, accessible, eager for life and ‘ready for anything’. There was jugglery, a live orchestra and choreographed blocking. So much fluidity and coordination of movements with music, would not have been possible without intense improvisational routines. It seems that the actors went through a month long workshop that helped them discover how to portray their ‘own inner clown’

IIC Diary May-June 2013




Diary of Anne Frank – a review by Manohar Khushalani

Original Title: A face of fascism published in Pioneer on 31/12/2000
DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.12639266

A Leaf from Diary of Anne Frank

Ruchika Theatre Group is one of the oldest surviving theatre groups of Delhi. The reason is simple. It keeps regenerating itself. The Diary of Anne Frank was one such exercise in which, Feisal Alkazi, the director of the play, used an entirely inexperienced cast, inducted from the Little Actors Club. Obviously, therefore, there would be unevenness of talent, but viewed within those limitations The show put up at India Habitat Centre last week held together due to sheer sincerity of effort and excellent performance by Gayatri Khanna, Keerthana Mohan and Sahil Gill. The actress who deserves special mention is Aarti Sethi, who gave a vivacious performance in the lead role of Anne Frank, despite the fact that she had an asthmatic attack just before the show began.

The Diary of Anne Frank has sold more than 25 million copies, since it was first published in 1947. Anne Frank has become a symbol of 10 million Jews murdered by Hitler, one million of whom were children like her.

The theatrical version of this diary by Mrs and Mr Hackett was published four years later in 1951. It is a lucid and slick adaptation of the diary of the sensitive Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945. Anne Frank received this ready-to-write diary on her 13th birthday, just before she and her family had to go into hiding in Amsterdam, which was occupied by Hitler’s army since 1940.

Her engagingly personal account in which she was cooped up in a stifling Attic for over two years with her parents, sister Margot, another family, the Van Dans and Janice Dussel – a fastidious middle aged dentist who had little patience for Anne’s effervescent liveliness.

The chronicle derives it’s appeal from its engaging mix of the mucky details of life during war and candid revelations of confused emotions of an adolescent girl.

Otto Frank began preparing and stocking an attic behind his business office at Prinsengracht 263 into a hiding place. When the freedom of the Jews began to be severely restricted, with does and don’ts about where they could shop, swim or study. It is this annexe where all the action in the play takes place. Feisal had orchestrated simultaneous action in various living areas of this claustrophobic space that brought alive the ambiance. In one scene while Anne is talking to Margo in the bedroom. In the meanwhile Janice waits impatiently on the sofa for them to finish their conversation in the living room, others are playing cards at the table. It was such skillful touches that heightened the drama.

According to the director, Feisal Alkazi, improvisations were used to develop this as a play about fascism mainly to get the younger generation involved in the issues. However, the improvisations appeared to bring out the tension between the generations. The political statement emerged more in the brochure, at the level of relationships. Älso, the sexual empathy between Anne and Van Dan’s son Peter, the mixed feelings between the two sisters; and, above all, the relationship between “a girl of 13 who has no friends” and an inanimate object – her diary – whom she chose to call ‘Kitty’, were all well worked out. As usual Feisal had chosen his music pieces well and the clear playbacks of well-recorded voice-overs synchronised perfectly with the action on stage. MK

Diary of Anne Frank
A Face of Fascism




Acting Tips by Prof. Manohar Khushalani on Instagram

Acting Skills by MK
Prof. Manohar Khushalani’s Live Interview on Instagram

Was invited for this program by one of the new Lockdown Channels
created by a producer from Colours TV Channel . They are interviewing
celebrities  informally to help people knock off their blues

Acting Tips with Manohar Khushalani. Spiced with hilarious anecdotes from
my Theatre life. Please watch it live today 16th May 2020 on Instagram.
7 pm India
2.30 pm UK
6.30 am LA
9.30 am NY.

 Follow the link below. It will come live at times mentioned above.

https://instagram.com/theactingstudio_tausif?igshid=1vptrgojda9zv




Celebrating 150 years of the Mahatma | Manohar Khushalani

A review of the festival at IIC _ Gandhi Ki Dilli

Published earlier in IIC DIARY
Sanatan Sangeet Sanskriti’s, Words in the Garden, curated by Ashok Vajpeyi, is an annual celebration of Literature, Arts and Ideas, of Delhi, this time as a tribute to Gandhi, it was also capsuled as Bapu ki Dilli.

The event thus opened with a film directed by Shyam Benegal, The Making of
the Mahatma,
featuring Rajit Kapoor as Gandhi and Pallavi Joshi as Kasturba.at IIC
The film is based upon the book, The Apprenticeship of a Mahatma, by Fatima
Meer it relates to his 21 years in South Africa where he evolved and fine tuned
his Satyagraha Philosophy. For those who have not seen the 1996 film, it
reveals a different Gandhi and his attempt to come to terms with his
headstrong idealism, which sometimes set him on a path of confrontation even
with his wife. Pallavi, affectionately called, Kastur, by Gandhi etches out a
strong personality for Kasturba unlike the common perception of her being a
pliable person

On the same day we saw an unusual theatre exercise. Stay Yet a While, was a
play reading directed by M.K. Raina, inspired from an unusual and rare
collection of letters exchanged by Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore,
along with some essays by them, curated by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya. The
production retained the flavour of the text by keeping it simple, the content
was powerful enough to sustain the performance handled deftly by seasoned
actors; Avijit Dutt as Tagore and Oroon Das as Gandhi. Preeti Agarwal, the
debutant, was the narrator. Raina’s style of Direction is very original, he
chooses performers for their ability to think and analyse and not for their
histrionics. Also without imitating the body language of the protagonists, they
were able to bring out their larger than life personalities. The result was a
didactic presentation exploring the ideas of two philosophical giants.

Ras Chakra’s Har Qatra Toofan, directed by Vinod Kumar, was yet another play
reading in the series about Gandhi which. The idea was to demystify the
legend, through the eyes of women of his time. Thus the reading was made by
women actors from letters and essays by Sarojini Naidu, Mahadevi Verma,
Ismat Chughtai, Taj Sahiba Lahauri, Anne Mary Peterson, Ellen Horup and Ima
Tarlo. The inspiration for the collection came from the historian Ram Chandra
Guha’s path breaking writings, considered by critics to be the last word on the
subject; Gandhi before India and Gandhi: Years that Changed the World,
1914-48

Besides, the festival was also replete with discussions on topics and ideas
ranging from Sustainable Living, Sparrows to Gandhi’s favourite Bhajans and
even his nutritional philosophy expressed through a lunch curated by Pushpesh
Pant, with unfamiliar cuisine, like Bajre ki Khichri, Methi ke Theple and many
such minimalistic gourmet items

DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.12562184