Winning Streaks at Play

Winning Streaks at Play

Heartfelt stories of war-torn Baghdad,and a eunuch community emerge as big winners at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards.

When Baghdad came to the theatre stage of Kamani Auditorium in Delhi,one did not just hear the sounds of bombs and guns. There were scenes of flamboyant living and bacchanalian evenings. A play written by London-based Iraqi molecular biologist Hassan Abdulrazzak,and directed by Akarsh Khurana of Mumbai-based theatre group Akvarious Productions,Baghdad Wedding scored a hat trick at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) in Delhi. At the ceremony at the Taj Man Singh in the Capital on Wednesday,the play bagged awards for Best Supporting Actor (Female),Best Ensemble and,ultimately,Best Play. “After being nominated three times earlier for Best Play,this is my first win in this category,” said Khurana.

The other play that had reason to celebrate was Santaap,by Rangashram,a group from Bengal. A tale of a eunuch whose relationship with her adopted son comes to a traumatic end when the latter abandons her,won the lead actor Sandip Bhattacharya the Best Actor (Male) award. A few minutes later,Sandip was back on stage — this time to pick up his the Best Supporting Actor (Male) award for his brother Aniruddh Bhattacharya.

Veteran stage actor Lilette Dubey,looking her glamourous best,lifted the statuette for Best Actor (Female) and said,“I have been in theatre for 36 years. Adhe Adhure is my first Hindi play. This is only the second time in the past seven years that I am contesting for an award.” In Adhe Adhure,she plays the lead role of Savitri,a working woman married to an unemployed man. If Adhe Adhure drew attention to a woman’s sociopolitical identity,Samjhauta focussed on the existential concerns of a young man. The play won National School of Drama (NSD),Delhi,graduate Praveen Kumar Gunjan the coveted Best Director and Best Original Script awards.

Sometimes,tears said what acceptance speeches could not. Theatre activist Ashim Kumar Sharma welled up and choked as he received the award for Best Choreography and Costume Design for Sup-Ek-Prahashan,an Assamese play which used a traditional drama form,Ankiya Nat.

It was also an evening that remembered a doyen of theatre — Khaled Choudhury,a stage designer. The award had been delivered to his home in Kolkata earlier,and a video recording played his responses for the META audience.

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