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The 6th National Theatre Festival Alfaaz 2018

The 6th National Theatre Festival Alfaaz 2018

Udaipur’s year end has witnessed a grand national theatre festival ‘Alfaaz 2018’ dedicated to the celebration of womanhood organized by Natyansh Society of Dramatic and Performing Arts. Alfaaz is only theatre festival in Rajasthan which is dedicated to woman in our life. It was the 6th edition of the festival which was spread over 20 days with various art activities along with full length stage plays. They have successfully conducted inter school short play and drawing competition. To associate with people all over the world, an online photography competition was organized on topic ‘Shades of Woman’. 150 participants from 20 countries had sent their photographs which were judged by the eminent photographers of the lakecity. Many senior artists and young budding artists associated together and performed their stories and poems in Storytelling and Poetry Slam organized as part of this festival. About 100 street plays were performed to reach to the masses and spread awareness about the social issues and inform audience about shows to be performed in Alfaaz 2018.
Limitations of resources have never put down the passion and energy of team Natyansh. Without any sponsorship and govt. grants they have created a milestone in Udaipur’s Theatre culture. The success of 6th National theatre festival Alfaaz 2018 is an example of team work and team building.

Theatre festival Alfaaz started with one day program in 2013 has expanded to 20 days in 2018. The entire festival is organized by people’s participation and support. Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal has supported them and gave their amphi theatre space for the stage performances. Dedicated to the memory of Padmashri Devi Lal Samar, Alfaaz 2018 began on 30th November witnessed a street play in Outdoor performances. Students of University of Law College performed a play ‘Teri-Meri Party’ based on voting appeal and paintings made by students in drawing competition were exhibited at Lok Kala Mandal.

Artists of Gobardanga Naksha, West Bengal performed ‘Binodini – A Woman A Human’ under the direction of Ashis Das on the open air stage of Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal. Written by Mainek Sengupta and based on the autobiography of Binodini, the play revolves around the life and struggles of Binodini who was first theatre actress from sex-workers family and she was the most famous actress of the nineteenth century Bengal. At the age of thirteen she made her debut in the Great National Theatre in a minor role, that of Draupadi. She worked for this theatre for two years and then briefly for the Bengal Theatre, but she settled down for a much longer period – six years – with the National Theatre, where the famous actor and playwright Girish Chandra Ghosh worked. It was from him that she really learnt the skill of acting and along with him that she founded the star theatre in early 1883. She made a great personal sacrifice in order to establish this theatre, as she had to leave her patron whom she truly loved and had to become the mistress of another person who financed the new theatre. Ironically enough, she was able to work in this theatre for just over three years as she was forced to quit it in the face of hostility from her puritan colleagues. Binodini performed in ninety roles in more than fifty plays; and made women’s participation on the stage acceptable to the society and advanced the cause of the Bangla theatre. However, hostile social circumstances forced her to retire from the stage when she was only about twenty-three. She had a knack for writing, and published her autobiography, Amar Katha (My Story) in 1912, in which she frankly unfolded her life, including how she was loved, loathed, betrayed and exploited by men. She wrote it in simple, yet attractive language, and it has established its due place in the history of Bengali autobiographical literature.

This powerful role of Binodini was played onstage by Dipanwaita Banik Das and young Binodini by Sumona Mitra. Animesh Chandra Bhattacharjee played character of Girish Chandra Bose, Elias Mondal played character of A. Babu, Nilanjan Bhowmick played charcter of Gurumukh Roy and Pratap Johary. Special light effects from off stage were managed by Sonjoy Nath and Joydev Das operated lights. Music was operated by Aritra Pal and Elias Mondaol while Debbani Mitra was the production in-charge. After the show senior theatre artists Dr. Laique Hussain, Sh. Vilas Janwe and Sh. Deepak Joshi gave certificates and memento to the team.

On second evening Dharmedra Tilawat, Jatin Bherwani and Kumud Dwivedi entertained audience with monologues performed as part of Outdoor performances which was followed by stage play ‘Mahua Charit’. Based on the Katshinath Singh’s novel under direction of Raj Narain Dixit, Prastav team from New Delhi performed this play. The play revolves around desires of the central character Mahua and her journey from body-infatuation to the marriage and then self realization and self empowerment against the society’s norms. Mahua is daughter of a freedom fighter but due to low financial conditions she didn’t had friends to whom she can share her life.  In loneliness, she made her home’s roof her friend; she opened herself to roof and shared all her desires. The plays showed the body demands of man and woman, where Mahua struggled a lot and a situation arises where her husband, Harshul ask about her past relations before marriage but did not confront his present relationship with other woman. This shattered Mahua and she decides to leave Harshul and starts a new life independently. She asks ‘what is there in the body that it loses nothing but entire relationships of soul is ruined?’

The play beautifully questions that woman is a body or mind? Sometimes society wants to bind her mind into the walls of character and sometimes remove love by lust, touching the body. No one asks what the woman herself is, how she is, why she is, and what she wants. These questions are never asked and not understood. When a woman is in the body, society is eager towards her, but whenever the same body chooses love, it becomes a cause of disgust.  The leading character Mahua was performed by Trupti Johari, father by Devendra Pratap Singh, Mother by Anuradha Gaitam. Shilpa Verma played character of Roof who dances very well. Mohan Yadav, Mohit Chugh, Astha Gupta, Vinay Sharma, Gaurav Dhingra played various characters in play. Costumes were made by Renu Dixit and make up by Rashid Bhai, music direction and operations by Sandy, backstage management were handled by Vijay Hakku and Vijay Singh. Light design, operation and play were directed by Raj Narain Dixit. Senior dramatist Sh. Shail Choyal and Sh. Deepak Joshi gave certificates and memento to artist and director of Mahua Charit.

Due to some technical problems, outdoor performance was cancelled on third day Alfaaz 2018 and play ‘Kissa Maujpur Ka’ was performed by team Natyansh under the direction of Abdul Mubin Khan. Written by Jayvardhan, play is satirical take on the major issue of female foeticide in our country. What happens when a marriage changes the story of the village and coaxes the inhabitants to accept girl child? The plot is based in a village named Maujpur where a doctor All Right becomes popular because of her skills to identify the sex of the foetus. To prevent the birth of a girl child it resorts to the heinous crime of abortion of the female foetus. This serious situation is treated with a light touch that keeps the audience amused throughout. But, at the same time, it makes a satirical comment on the patriarchal structure of society in a powerful manner. Meanwhile, in this all-male population, a macho culture is being promoted. Parents are happy that sons are great assets. After some years, life in the village has become colourless and the villagers are realising they have committed a crime by forcing their wives to terminate their pregnancies. In the eyes of the neighbouring villages, Maujpur has become an object of ridicule. For years no wedding has been celebrated in the village. No outsider is willing to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to the youth of Maujpur because of its notoriety as the enemy of the female gender. Despite their cunning tactics the matchmakers have failed to convince the fathers of girls in neighbouring villages to marry their daughters to the young men of Maujpur. However, a father of two daughters agrees to a marriage proposal, but on conditions that are most humiliating. Submitting to the father’s conditions, after many years a wedding takes place. As part of the condition, the girl brings the wedding procession to the village and the bridegroom goes back to live in the home of bride.

On stage Agastya Hardik Nagda, Raghav Gurjargaur, Ashfaq Noor Khan, Neha Purohit, Mahesh Joshi, Mohammad Rizwan, Dharmendra Tilawat, Satyajeet Singh, Rahul Solanki, Amit Shrimali, Mohan Shivtare, Chakshu Singh Rupawat, Vallabh Sharma, Mohammad Hafiz, Harish Prajapat, Parakh Jain, Deepak Joshi, Karan, Indra Singh Sisodiya, Akshay Gurjar, Ankit Maurya, Shrimoyee M. Nirmal, Ruby Kumari, Isha Jain, Akansha Dwivedi, Kumud Dwivedi, Palak Kayath, Mahisha Sharma played various characters. Live music was played by Mohan Shivtare and Bhuwan Sharma. Senior artist from Jaipur Shehzor Ali designed and operated light. Entire stage set up was designed by Abdul Mubin, Ashfaq Noor and Hemant Ameta while makeup and costumes were taken care by Yogeeta Sisodia, Palak and Manisha. Back stage management was handled by Jatin Bherwani, Pranav Dave and Harshraj Singh Solanki. Sh. Riaz Tehsin and Dr. Laique Hussain praised the artists and gave certificates and memento.

The fourth and last theatrical evening began with monologues performed by Amit Shrimali as part of Outdoor performance and concluded with play ‘Pagalkhana’ written by Ashok Kumar ‘Anchal’ and directed by Ashfaq Noor Khan. Played by team Natyansh play made audience restless and compelled to think that the Pagalkhana is shown on stage also exists in our society. We are silent observers who do not raise voice against wrong things. Four most important pillars of the society i.e. politician, businessman, media and administrator who are responsible for the welfare of the society have become selfish. They not only fool the common people but also crush them. All these are shown as inmates of the “Pagalkhana” (Mental Hospital). The other characters are a revolutionary singer, a Transgender and silent observer. All of them are mentally sick. The guard of “Pagalkhana” represents the corrupt administration. He suppresses the voice of revolution and the truth. The play also portrays a lady cleaner ‘Sursatiya’ who represents the poor plight of women in Indian society. The powerful members exploit her and the singer and ruin their lives. Scenes like gang rape and shock treatment in Mental Hospital were shown on white screen as shadows created special impact. Onstage Manisha Sharma played role of Sursatiya, Neha Purohit was seen as Bhanji. Rahjav Gurjar Gaur performed Darban, Dharmendra Tilawat was as Neta, Mahesh Joshi as Udhyogpati, Mohan Shivtare as Patrakaar, Agastya Hardik Nagda as Gayak, Indra Singh Sisodiya as Radha and Chakshu Singh Rupawat as silent observer played their roles very well. Music was operated by Hemant Ameta, backstage managed by Akshay Gurjar, Rahul Solanki, Harish Prajapat. Light design and play direction by Ashfaq Noor Khan Pathan. Dr. Laique Hussain and Prof. Arun Jain gave certificates and memento to artists. The ceremony was followed by vote of thanks by Amit Shrimali – the secretary of Natyansh.

The 6th National Theare Festival Alfaaz 2018 witnessed 300 audiences on first day which gradually crossed 1100 on the last day of performance. This is result of their hard work; the promotions from various programs held in Alfaaz and the benefit of centralize location. Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal has supported them and special credit goes to Dr. Laique Hussain, senior dramatist, who showered all his blessing and love to team Natyansh. As always Prof. Arun Jain from IIT, Varanasi came to Udaipur to attend this program.

A young group with no big names has done miracle in theatre culture of Udaipur and created their own audiences which is appreciable. It is assumed that they will certainly raise the level of theatre arts and join all the theatre lovers in a single platform.

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