In a small town, an illiterate woman’s life changes when a lady comes knocking at her door to deliver a letter to her husband. She is desperate to read it, but can’t and is too embarrassed to ask for help. She then embarks on a journey of teaching herself to read and write.
This story, by eminent Marathi writer VD Madgulkar, was adapted into a play, Chitthi, by students of ILS Law College, Pune. At the recent inter-collegiate theatre competition, Ekankika, organised by Loksatta, the play won the mega-finals held at Mumbai’s Ravindra Natya Mandir on December 20.
Entries were invited for one-act plays from colleges across Maharashtra in November. This was the first edition of the festival and 106 colleges from eight centres — Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Ratnagiri — took part. The students were screened at three levels: a city elimination round, a centre semi-final and a mega-final.
“The sensibilities of today’s youth came across in the themes chosen and the maturity with which plays were written and directed. It was a very encouraging sign that students took part in large numbers, rehearsed sincerely for several months and, finally, staged quality plays,” says veteran playwright Shafaat Khan, one of the judges. He was accompanied by theatre personalities Vijay Kenkre, Ashok Mule, Chandrakant Kulkarni and Madhugandha Kulkarni.
Chitthi also bagged awards for best direction (Apurva Bhilare) and three acting awards. “It was a tough competition with some really good plays participating from different parts of the state. We also got an opportunity to interact with theatre veteran Vijaya Mehta,” says Bhilare.
From portraying a society that is addicted to technology to digging into Sigmund Freud’s theories of psychoanalysis, the topics chosen for the plays were diverse. Omkar Bhujne from DBJ College, Chiplun, who directed the play Qubool Hai (that won the second place) says that the competition allowed them to experiment with content and format.
“The play was based on Freud’s theories that were contemporised for modern-day audiences. We picked one of his ideas — freedom of thought — and created a narrative that explores this concept in a simple manner,” he adds.