Rasika Agashe and Zeeshan Ayyub to spread social awareness on Independence Day
Rasika Agashe and Zeeshan Ayyub will be celebrating Independence Day differently by providing a stage for burning socio-political issues
The Sanhita Manch Festival that turns two this year has a singular aim of spreading social awareness through theatre. It's the brainchild of Rasika Agashe and her husband Zeeshan Ayyub, who through their initiative Being Association have been tackling socio-political issues on stage. The three-day event that commences on Independence Day will see three plays being staged, a conversation with Sunil Shanbag, discussion sessions with Premanand Ghazi, Mahesh Dattani and Nadira Babbar, Makrand Deshpande and Salim Arif.
Zeeshan and Rasika at a rehearsal in Andheri. Pics/Shadab Khan
The festival was conceptualised a year ago from a simple need to find a script for a play. Agashe recalls, "Zeeshan and I wanted to get on to our next play but we were not finding a text. We were looking to do a Hindi play but there was a dearth of good material. That's when we announced a competition, inviting writers to submit their plays to us." The competition was announced on social media and the couple got fifty plays in response. "We got our friends from National School of Drama to spread the word, and the response was stupendous," Agashe says. Three of those plays were staged in the first year of the festival, in both Delhi and Mumbai.
This year, the festival has added another city to their run, Amritsar. From a submission of 80 plays, three have been selected. Agashe herself is directing a play called Harus Marus which compares humans to rats in a satirical fashion. "The play that has been written by Mukesh Nema examines in a funny way how our existence is similar to rats, in that our lives hold no value." The other play, Nirala is based on the life of famous Hindi poet-writer Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, and shows how he addressed societal issues through his writings. The third play is Pashmina, set in Kashmir. It explores how parents live with the sacrifice their children make when they die fighting for the country.
All plays are in Hindi. "I am often asked about my love for Hindi, especially because I am a Maharashtrian. But, I have always loved Hindi as a language. It is spoken around the country, but nobody owns it." Ayyub says, "Our mission is to search for new content and give it a platform. It's not only about our creativity but it is our responsibility."
When: August 15 to August 17 Where: PL Deshpande Auditorium, Prabhadevi, behind Siddhivinayak Temple, Dadar West
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