Festival celebrating tradition of theatre begins in Bangalore

October 31st, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 31 (IANS) The moving tale of the struggles of Binodini, a 19th century actress in Kolkata, came alive on a Bangalore stage Friday marking the beginning of a 10-day theatre festival celebrating the glorious tradition of ‘Nataka Mandali’ or company theatre in India.The festival, in its fifth edition, is in celebration of the Natak Mandali tradition, one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the early part of the 20th century.

The 300-seater theatre facility at Ranga Shankara in Bangalore was packed to capacity with theatre lovers to watch the 100-minute play “Nati Binodini”, directed by Amal Allana.

“Nati Binodini” captures not just the travails of the actress but also depicts the status of women in Indian society in that period.

“It gives me immense pleasure to throw open the festival for discerning audiences,” said Arundhati Nag, creative director of Ranga Shankara, at the inaugural ceremony.

“But with the advent of modernity, the art of Natak Mandali is almost dead with only a few artistes practising it. Through the festival we have tried to revive the golden era of theatre through two special plays,” said Nag.

The organisers are expecting around 4,500 theatre buffs to attend the festival.

The festival is a package of six acclaimed plays, including two specially commissioned plays in Kannada that echo the grandeur of an era bygone.

Apart from “Nati Binodini”, the other plays are Satish Alejar’s “Begum Barve” in Marathi, Ravindra Khare’s Marathi play “Katiaar Kaalijaat Ghusil” and R. Nageswara Rao’s Telugu play “Maya Bazaar”, based on an episode in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

The two specially commissioned plays in Kannada are “Jagadjyothi Basaveshwara” on the life and teachings of 12th century social reformer Basavanna, and “Sadarame”, a popular play depicting how a middle class girl married to a prince tackles her problems through common sense.

The directors of the play are Yenagi Nataraj, son of a veteran company theatre artiste Yenagi Balappa, and B. Jayashree, grand-daughter of Kannada company theatre doyen, Gubbi Veeranna, respectively.

The festival will also screen documentaries and special solo performances by thespians R. Nagarathnamma, Master Hirannaiah and Sarita Joshi from the golden era in the coming days.

The journey of Kannada Sangeet Natak over the last 70 years will be presented in the fiesta through its songs. The festival will also feature the second edition of theatre and art appreciation course for aspiring theatre persons.

Along with screening of documentaries depicting various facts about Natak Mandali, a rare photographs exhibition will take the viewers down memory lane when natak mandali was at its peak.

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