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All for One

The invite of ‘Katha Manchan 4’ by Mask Theatre comes in the shape of a simple black and white pamphlet. The first line reads — ‘An Annual Theatre Festival Organised With The Help of Artists and Art Lovers’.

Written by Parul Bajaj |
February 7, 2012 12:30:38 am

Of the people,by the people,for the people — how some artistic endeavours in the city have become inclusive

The invite of ‘Katha Manchan 4’ by Mask Theatre comes in the shape of a simple black and white pamphlet. The first line reads — ‘An Annual Theatre Festival Organised With The Help of Artists and Art Lovers’. What started four years ago as a dream of four young theatre artists who formed Mask Theatre,is now a full-fledged theatre festival based on short stories directed by different people. “It’s a people’s initiative,” asserts Vijay Manchal,as the fourth edition of the festival,kicked off on February 6.

Sans grants or sponsors,Manchal,Ravi,Chakresh and Mohnish have organised the annual theatre festival,Katha Manchan,with the help of family,friends and art lovers. The idea was to involve people in the journey and to take it to the next level. Its unique facet is that artistes from other theatre groups play a part to make it bigger and better each year. Individual donations,funds from selling raddi collected from homes,distributing blank envelopes at the end of the play — they do it all. “The audience must be a an intrinsic part of our trials and tribulations and we seem to have touched a chord,” smiles Chakresh. This year,the group has another novel idea to start collections for the next festival. They will place 150 gullaks (money boxes) in the hall of Punjab Kala Bhawan where the four plays will be staged and request people in the audience to take the money boxes back home and put aside whatever they wish to for theatre. “We will collect the piggy banks after six months and hopefully there will be enough to stage more than one festival,” says Ravi as he announces that this year DR Ankur is directing one of the stories for the festival.

Like Katha Manchan,individual creative efforts to get art on the centre stage have translated into other absorbing artistic activities. Shumita Didi,who launched the organisation,Saanjhey Ranng Punjab De a couple of years ago to promote education,development,awareness and amity through the arts agrees. “We believe that our common cultural heritage needs to be documented,discussed and developed,” says Didi who,with the help of like-minded people has been hosting a series of literary-cultural events and exhibitions in Delhi and Chandigarh.

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The latest endeavour at Saanjhey Ranng Punjab De is to screen short films,documentaries and feature films for adults and children. The plan was launched on February 2 with a monthly film-screening program at Aruna Bhawan in collaboration with the Aruna Asaf Ali Trust and the inaugural film was Premchand’s Eid Mubarak,directed by the legendary Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. “The projector and equipment has been bought with funds from friends and people,” says Didi who is expanding this creative dialogue at Panjab University,Government College for Men,where Skin Deep by Reena Mohan and Naach by Saba Dewan will be screened.

Opened with the idea of making cashless exchanges lucrative,the city’s first “free store” is attracting a lot of attention. Here,city-based entrepreneurs Babli Mann,Gaurav Sahai,Navjeet Kaur,Azad Singh and Moonstar Kaur have taken a step to take forward a culture of gifting that’s not done on monetary terms. The philosophy is to get people to share not only things,but exchange ideas and start small movements together. “Through word of mouth,we’re reaching out to share tips on how to grow organic terrace gardens,install home composts,cook together and connect with each other on a personal and creative level,” shares Kaur,who says a number of people are contributing to the store.

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