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Front row access to the best Marathi plays

The annual Marathi theatre festival at NCPA starts this Friday. While your tickets for Aaydaan should be booked right now, the other six shouldn’t be missed, be it for their strong themes or promising talent

The annual celebration of Marathi theatre, NCPA’s Pratibimb Marathi Natya Utsav, begins this Friday — a good enough to reason to book your tickets now. Started in 2010, this year you will be enthralled by seven Marathi plays across five days.

Get Well Soon
 A still from the play, Get Well Soon starring Swapnil Joshi (second from left)

Aaydaan, an Awishkar production, is anticipated to be one of the year’s most promising powerhouse plays, which will also be premiering at the festival.

The play, Amhi Sau. Kumud Prabhakar Apte stars Aishwarya Narkar (left) and Pratiksha Lonkar (right)
The play, Amhi Sau. Kumud Prabhakar Apte stars Aishwarya Narkar (left) and Pratiksha Lonkar (right)

“It’s the fifth edition of  Pratibimb. The idea has always been to present a cross-section of Marathi plays to an audience that may not be exposed to Marathi theatre. Those who are familiar with Marathi plays would still find something new, along with the big hits,” says Deepa Gahlot, head of programming (theatre and film) at NCPA.

Aaydaan
Aaydaan will be premiering at the festival

An ode to Dalit women
Aaydaan is based on the novel by Urmila Pawar — a feminist Dalit writer. Conceptualised by Ramu Ramanathan and directed by Sushama Deshpande, the story of Dalit women is investigated. “The first play that opened at  Pratibimb 2010 was Sushama Deshpande’s Bayaa Daar Ughad, a beautiful and uplifting play about poet saints of Maharashtra. Sushama’s work is experimental with women at their centre. Her plays are socially relevant and thought-provoking,” says Gahlot.

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot

Society in a nutshell
The selection this year seems to be veering towards social issues with plays such as Chandrakant Kulkarni’s Get Well Soon; Virendra Pradhan’s Amhi Sau. Kumud Prabhakar Apte; and Sarang Bhakre’s Dushyantpriya that deal with topics of alcoholism, extramarital affairs and gender or sexuality, respectively. Gahlot shares more, “Ek Baaki Ekaki is about loneliness in the city, Get Well Soon is about alcoholism, Dushyantapriya is about gay concerns. In Marathi theatre, it is not easy to discern trends, because there is such a rich variety of commercial, experimental and student productions plus literature, poetry, and art that go into it.”

A surprise package
Quiz her about the surprises and the regulars in the selection, and Gahlot shares, “Awishkar have been a regular while Natak Company returns with Sangeet Manapman, which is a traditional sangeet natak, done by young people revisiting a form unique to Marathi theatre. Two productions — Zopala and Ek Baaki Ekaaki are from the inter-collegiate circuit, and they would be the surprise package.”

From: August 1 to 5 
At: NCPA Theatre, Nariman Point.
Call: 22824567

Pune likes to experiment
Pune, the student city, is also hailed for its experimental dramas. We ask Deepa Gahlot if they outweighed the Mumbai productions: “On the experimental theatre front, Pune’s theatre does offer tough competition. Groups like Aasakta, Natak Company, Samanvay, and Lalit Kala Kendra, to name just a few, are always doing good work, perhaps because they can function without the distractions of Mumbai.”

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