Bengali theatre lovers should book a seat at Bahirbanga Natya Utsav, a three-day stage festival that will feature three plays by theatre groups from Kolkata. The festival has been organised by city-based group Roopangan (founded in July 2014) along with Paschimbanga Natya Academy of West Bengal (Department of Information and Cultural Affairs).
A still from Khoon, a play that takes a look at Kolkata’s red light area, Sonagachhi
Curtain raiser The foundation is registered with the Charity Commissioner and donates collections from plays to support old age homes in the city. “While we donate to existing old age homes, we are also trying to save enough to build our own. It is a cause we have felt strongly about. Compared to charities for children, it is tougher to find people who are willing to donate for senior citizens,” shares Shaibal Roy, secretary, Roopangan.
A still from Chotushkon
The group that mainly consists of corporate professionals with full time day jobs, manages to create time for rehearsals and tries to present plays on a variety of subjects including some Marathi plays adapted in Bengali, to the Mumbai audience.
“Bengalis in Mumbai miss out on good Marathi plays as not all of them understand the language. Last year, to celebrate Roopangan’s anniversary, we staged Jokhon Aandhar Namlo (When Darkness Descends), adapted from a Marathi play called Sandhya Chaya by Jaywant Dalvi. It discusses how old age homes can be a boon. We intend to do a few more of these, where although the setting is rural Maharashtra, the characters speak in Bengali,” says Shivaji Sengupta, president, Roopangan.
Talking about the difference between Bengali theatre in Kolkata and Mumbai, he shares, “Kolkata has professional theatre groups of which some are even aided by the government. Mumbai, on the other hand, has more amateur groups where participants rehearse after their day jobs.” On the importance of bringing Kolkata groups to perform in Mumbai, he says, “unless we watch these, we won’t improve. Even the audience here gets a chance to see how much progress professional Bengali theatre has made.”
The play, Khoon, staged by a group called Chokh, looks at the red light district of Sonagachhi — its emergence and its current scene. Anya Theatre’s Chhoto Chhoto Bari is about a middle-class colony’s struggles against land sharks. The Abhaash Dakshin Kolkata group will present Chotushkon (also a popular Bengali film), a thriller about a housewife who along with her lover kills her husband.
The group plans to host exchange programmes at regular intervals, with the support of the West Bengal government, where groups from Mumbai will also perform in Kolkata. They are currently translating Kirwant a play by Premanand Gajvee
On: December 18, 8pm, December 19, 3 pm, December 20, 8 pm
At: Yashwant Natya Mandir, near Plaza cinema, Matunga Road.