The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Festival stage for all regions

For two decades, Nandikar has been bringing a pan-Indian theatre festival to town. Funds have dried up and bureaucracy sometimes interferes with quality, but audiences have never let the theatre group down.

Overcoming the logistical hardships once more, Nandikar’s 20th National Theatre festival is set to hit town next month. Starting on December 16, plays from across the country will be staged at the Academy of Fine Arts till December 26. The 10 days will pack in some new features, notably an all-day-all-night agenda on Christmas.

“I saw at the last moment, when all the slots had been filled, that local acts were being left out,” explains Rudraprasad Sengupta of Nandikar. To accommodate more performances from West Bengal, the idea of a Christmas marathon was born.

The morning will start at 10 am with Goutamer Kathakata, “performative songs” directed by Goutam Halder. That will be followed by Sudipto Kundu’s dance theatre, Saat Ranger Samay. The afternoon starts with Khunje Naao, directed by Swatilekha Sengupta, after which Theatre, Dhaka, takes the stage with Chhoy Beharar Palki. Deep into the night of December 25, at 10.30 pm, Bratya Basu’s Virus-M and a presentation of Lokagaan by Dohar are lined up, to be capped off by a stimulating coffee break.

“With so many teams from across the country sharing the spotlight during the festival, why leave out local performers'” feels Sengupta. But there is no intention to make the festival one of just Bengali plays, with the rest of the days featuring a wide range of productions.

For the inaugural session, the National School of Drama Rep. Co. will take the stage with Janemann, continuing the following evening with Chanakya Vishnugupta.

Sriram Lagoo’s performance in Vijay Kenkre’s Mitra on December 20 is worth looking out for as well, immediately after which Delhi’s Anamika Haskar will present Baavla. To remember the late B.V. Karanth, a Kannad play directed by him, Jokumaraswamy, will be staged on December 26.

The festival, which is supported by the Zonal Cultural Centres, has kept Nandikar’s hands full for around three months. “Though we have always found favour with our audiences, with corporate support drying up over the years, this is as large as the festival will get without letting our own theatre productions suffer,” sighs Sengupta.

Golden campaign

The Advertising Club is 50 and is feeling great, judging by the action-packed year it has had. And to celebrate it all, the oldest ad club in the country has decided to revamp an old favourite in its portfolio. The annual awards night has been christened Impact 360°, and it includes much more than the usual line-up.

“We have always concentrated on the effectiveness of advertising,” explains Roshan Joseph, president, Ad Club and director, Eveready. “The Gowtam Ghoshal award has always gone to reward that which has been proved to work.”

So, this year, the focus is mainly on the results. A nation-wide survey has been commissioned, tapping 6,500 consumers, to shortlist the year’s most effective advertising, which is meant to measure “consumer resonance and impact score”, or CRIS.

Over two days at the ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton, eight judges will get together, with the “audience” pitching in the ninth vote, and the winners will be decided. There are just six categories — fast moving consumer goods, consumer durables, consumer services, public services, business to business and below-the-line advertising.

Ashok Bijapurkar, Rama Bijapurkar, Santosh Desai, Kiran Khalap, Pranesh Misra, Ram Ray, Shiloo Chattopadhyay and Anand Sen are the official judges on December 11 and 12. The judging will be interrupted by talks by ad veterans, including some of the judges. Arun Nanda of Rediffusion-DY&R will deliver the R.K. Sarkar Memorial Lecture.

The announcements will be made at a big bash at Swabhumi on December 12 evening. This year, as is customary, a member of the national ad fraternity will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. After the presentation of the awards, an “evening of nostalgia” promises a lavish dinner spread, “some of Calcutta’s best performers” and a stand-up comedy routine.

Post-mortem play

A stimulating discussion in a homely atmosphere was held at the Seagull Bookstore on Wednesday evening. About 30 theatre enthusiasts, mostly young, met for a feedback session and post-production discussion about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, performed at Gyan Manch recently.

Tom Stoppard’s play, written in the 1960s, is about a couple of ‘bewildered innocents’ trapped in a world beyond their comprehension. In young Trina Nileena Banerjee’s debut as stage director, Guildenstern is a woman and Rosencrantz a young homosexual, both trying desperately to make sense of the rules of the world they have been excluded from. They are a part of our world, lost, confused, naive, yet convinced of their own undeniable importance. “It was our own story around the text of Stoppard and this is the subtext on which the performance was based,” said Banerjee.

The talk involved panellists Jayant Kripalani, Samik Bandyopadhyay, Ananda Lal, Jhuma Basak, Aniruddha Maitra, Trina Nileena Banerjee and moderator Paramita Chakravarti.

The performance was discussed threadbare, but it came in for some praise as well. “I enjoyed the play and I feel for a first production of such a young crew, it went very well,” said Jhuma Basak.

The actor playing Rosencrantz, Aniruddha Maitra, spoke about the difficulties of portraying a homosexual on stage, as the original text — the language of which the production stuck to — had no real references to this.

Trina, in turn, explained the reasons for her modified take on it. For some of the panellists, the show was an emotional one, as they had enacted it 30 years ago, sticking to the classical interpretation.

— Anja Damm

Turning 100

When the handful of women writers in Bengal had not quite broken the shackles in the early 20th Century, Radharani Devi stood out strong and tall. In thought and action, she was miles ahead of her times, carving a place in the literary bastion alongside writer husband Naren Dev. Though Radharani had written many a short story and much of non-fiction prose under the pseudonym Aparajita, she was known more for her poetry. On her 100th birth anniversary, daughter Nabanita Dev Sen and a bunch of her admirers have organised a poetry-reading and musical soiree at Sisir Mancha on December 1.

Future voices

The bright green lawns of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy (SRA) will light up after dusk for a jugalbandi of melody and memories, this weekend. An august gathering of scholars, past and present, and their gurus is the highlight of the institute’s silver jubilee celebrations. The two-day long panorama of classical vocal music features Bokul Chatterjee, Tushar Dutta, Jainul Abedin, Shirin Sengupta, Aniruddha Bhattacharya and Ajoy Chakraborty on Saturday. An investiture ceremony will see Ustad Vilayat Khan handing over certificates to immediate past scholars. The focus on Sunday will be on Anjana Nath, Sadhana Mohite, Kaushik Bhattacharya, Rajyashree Ghosh, Shashank Maktedar, Dalia Rahut and Arun Bhaduri.

Junior beam

A new television channel, just for kids, was launched nationwide this week. Pogo, part of the Zee-Turner bouquet, will focus on family entertainment, and broadcast shows for children of all ages, divided under three categories – young kids, kids prime and family and special events. The programming includes animation, dramas, comedies, movies and special documentaries, and comprises shows like Teletubbies, Barney and Friends, Mr Beans, Superman and Wallace and Gromit.

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