Theatre producer and director Atul Kumar claims that Rangsharda Auditorium, a live performance venue in Bandra West, on February 11 demanded that he play the National Anthem before staging his play Piya Behrupiya. The artiste told The Indian Express that the team managing the venue informed him at the last moment, 45 minutes before the show, that it was mandatory that the National Anthem be played before every live performance. “I mean no disrespect to the National Anthem. But Piya Behrupiya is a musical and begins with a preset music to set the tone of the play as the audience enters the venue. I told them that I may have accommodated it had I been informed earlier, but they wouldn’t listen to me,” recounted Kumar. In addition, he said, the venue also demanded a notice regarding the upcoming municipal elections be read out before the play begins. “I was told uppar se orders hain.”
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But as the show, scheduled for 7.30 pm, was getting delayed due to the confusion, it was allowed to be staged without either the National Anthem or the notice preceding it. However, Monday, Kumar’s production house The Company Theatre received an email from the venue stating that they cooperated for the show on Saturday and could have played the anthem without informing him. “They make it sound like it’s a rule, but no one from the theatre fraternity is aware of such a mandate,” Kumar added. Prasad Kambli, head of Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Parishad, the governing body for Marathi theatre, confirmed the same. “We would have been intimated by the government through a notice or circular had this been the case,” he said.
The spokesperson at the venue refused to confirm or deny Kumar’s claim. She told The Indian Express that she does not wish to comment on the same and will reach out to Kumar directly.