An online act

Updated: 01 May, 2020 10:04 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

A theatre fest is bringing plays, masterclasses and songs to a screen near you.

Chai Biskut was one of the plays showcased during the festival
Chai Biskut was one of the plays showcased during the festival

Even till a month ago, we were preparing and slotting shows in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and other cities for RANG 2020. But when the lockdown started, we realised we can't go ahead with it," says Atul Satya Koushik, who founded the festival under the banner of The Films and Theatre Society (FTS). But the show must go on, right? Now, in its sixth year, the multi-arts festival has thus taken the digital route, bringing together theatre doyens from across the country for masterclasses, interactions, live music recitals, storytelling and acting competitions. "We wanted to break the monotony of the lockdown. Continuing with the festival was a way of keeping the audience alive and telling them that we will entertain you," he adds.

The zero-budget festival, for which Koushik says all the celebrities and experts agreed to come on board for free, kicked off on April 27 and will continue till May 3. "Since we can't take our shows to the audience physically, we looked back at plays we had produced earlier. So, we are putting out those recordings. These include two innocent and heartwarming romantic stories — Chai Biskut and Chatterbox," Koushik shares. Under the Masterclass and Bol Gappe sections of the fest, Koushik adds that theatre personalities have been sharing their experiences through Zoom calls. "Each of them speak about their area of expertise. For example, Rupesh Tillu spoke about the philosophy and technique of clowning and Arvind Gaur elaborated on socio-political theatre. Similarly, Piyush Mishra, Kamya Panjabi, Dr M Sayeed Alam, Jatin Sarna, among others, will share some tricks of the trade and tell us how they are spending time during the lockdown," he adds.

Annup Sonii and Rupesh Tillu during a live session
Annup Sonii and Rupesh Tillu during a live session

There's also something for music lovers. "Most of the plays that we produce have original music and often, our viewers tell us they would like to hear these tracks again. So, we are releasing some of them, including Mujhse pehli si mohabbat from the play Ballygunge 1990 and Os banke from Pajama Party," he says, adding that there will also be live poetry and music recitals, including one featuring the Sufi Nizami Brothers.

Atul Satya Koushik
Atul Satya Koushik

Koushik shares that while the digital medium has given way to more exposure, it has also kept his team on their toes as the audience is constantly live. So, what does this mean for theatre in future? Actor Annup Sonii, who spoke about his experience of dealing with the lockdown in one of the sessions, sums it up for us: "Nobody knows what the future holds. Nobody had thought TV and later, the OTT culture would be so big. When the backdrop changes, we have to change with it."

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First Published: 01 May, 2020 09:17 IST

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