‘The Mountain of Bones is a troubling portrait of India’s new development model and the tyranny of the neo-liberal agenda’

The Hindu MetroPlus Playwright Award 2013 goes to Manjima Chatterjee for her The Mountain of Bones.

Instituted by The Hindu in 2008, the annual award carries a prize of Rs. 1 lakh for the best unpublished and unperformed play script in English.

The Mountain of Bones was selected from around 50 entries received from all over the country.

Ms. Chatterjee, who teaches theatre at the Shiv Nadar School at NOIDA near Delhi, has written a number of plays that have been shortlisted and commended in playwriting competitions. In 2010, her play Limbo was shortlisted for The Hindu MetroPlus Playwright Award. The jury of the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition commended her play The Baby Shower in 2011 and shortlisted another (Two Men on a Tree) last year.

Earlier, a panel of three distinguished judges had longlisted nine plays, of which three were shortlisted. The other two shortlisted entries were Deepika Arwind’s Nobody Sleeps Alone and Akash Mohimen’s Under the Chestnut Tree.

The judges for this year’s award were Ramu Ramanathan, Rina Ramdev and Deepa Punjani.

Mr. Ramanathan is a well-known playwright. His collection of 3, Sakina Manzil and Other Plays has been published by Orient Blackswan. Dr. Ramdev teaches English literature at Sri Venkateswara College in Delhi and has been reading and teaching drama for more than two decades. Ms. Punjani is the Editor of the Mumbai Theatre guide (www.mumbaitheatreguide.com). She represents the Indian National Section of Theatre Critics, which is part of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC).

In a citation, the judges said: “The Mountain of Bones is a troubling portrait of India’s new development model and the tyranny of the neo-liberal agenda. The play follows events in the Old Woman’s Village and the Flooded Tree Area where ‘the houses are empty. The fields, empty. The markets, all empty.’ In all this, the damage done by the ‘war machine’ on the invisible Hungry Crowd lingers. Set as a modern day parable, the play draws from peasant values and folk humour to create a vivid political critique. A solid play which gives a sense of Manjima Chatterjee’s prowess as a playwright.”

The Hindu MetroPlus Playwright Award 2013 is the sixth since it was launched in 2008.

Last year’s award was won by Prashanth Kumar Nair for Romeo and Juliet – No Strings Attached. Earlier winners were Aditya Sudarshan for The Green Room (2011), Neel Chaudhuri for Taramandal (2010), Prashant Prakash and Kalki Koechlin for Skeleton Woman (2009) and Abhishek Majumdar for Harlesden High Street (2008).

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