When the Past takes Centre Stagehttps://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/when-the-past-takes-centre-stage-chandigarhs-oldest-theatre-group-shakespeare-tagore-4742131/

When the Past takes Centre Stage

Abhinet, the oldest theatre group of Chandigarh, is back with a festival of plays

Rehearsals of Pankhon Wali Cheentiyan

IT is a journey that has stood the test of time, made possible by the passion and love of committed women and men. Abhinet, Chandigarh’s oldest theatre group, was established in 1974 to promote the study and appreciation of the art of drama by producing and sponsoring plays. In the course of its 43 years, Abhinet has brought to stage over 90 full-length plays by playwrights from across the world, including those by Arthur Miller, Nirmal Verma, Girish Karnad, William Shakespeare, Tagore and Chekhov.

Vijay Kapoor, the heart and soul of the group, and a well-known poet, writer, theatre director, and actor, believes that Abhinet continues to live and grow simply because of its policy to engage regularly with a young brigade of actors, writers, and designers, and involve them in the process of play production, and nurturing new talent. “Many members of the group are taking the work and essence of Abhinet forward and are well-known names in their fields,” says Kapoor.

The group is all set to stage “Festival of Plays — Stories on Stage” next week at the Tagore Theatre. Kapoor is busy giving last-minute touches to the productions. The four stories that will be staged have been dramatised, designed and directed by Kapoor. He has also co-authored the stories with Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi award-winner Dr Kailash Ahluwalia. The stories have been dramatised without much change to the original, a process Kapoor has enjoyed.

There are three new actors making their stage debut with this festival. For Babita Kohli, a poet and writer; Gaurav Ahuja, an IT expert, a poet and short story writer; and Dr Meena Sharma, a musician, this experience has helped them discover new facets of their lives. “Initially I was a bit nervous, especially with stage movement, but with regular rehearsals and guidance, I am looking forward to the day of the festival,” says Ahuja. Kohli feels she has finally found her calling in theatre, and reflects how she relates to the three characters she is playing in the stories. “The medium has got me closer to myself,” she says.


The first play Pankhon Wali Cheentiyan is a unique synchronization between the past and the present, where the audiences travel back in time to revisit memories of lost love. Visthapit revolves around nostalgia. It takes you through the plight of the ‘outsider’ and their resettlement, a painful journey between 1947 and 2017. Pani Hi Pani is based on Ahluwalia’s story, about the memories of loved ones. “The emptiness it portrays will take the audience to people and places that once brought happiness and joy,” says Kapoor.

However, there is comic relief with Sorse Machh. This is the story of a day in the life of a customer and a banker, who eventually fall in love. “I play a Bengali woman, who has so many interesting nuances about her character,” says Vimmi Bhullar, who has been part of Abhinet for many years now.

The plays will be staged on July 15 at Tagore Theatre, 6.30 pm onwards