In its fifth year, the Annual Vinod Doshi Memorial Theatre Festival returns to Pune with a collection of five contemporary plays in Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi, reflecting the diverse theatre cultures of the region. Vinod Doshi, former Chairman of The Premier Automobiles Ltd. was a rare industrialist with a deep-rooted passion for the arts and particularly theatre. He was closely involved with the creative aspects of experimental theatre and cinema through the 1960s and 1970s besides offering support to artists and practitioners. In keeping with his commitment to the arts, the festival is accompanied by a fellowship scheme that offers unconditional support to talented youngsters in the field of theatre. This year the fellowship has been awarded to young theatre practitioners Gagan Riar, Om Bhutkar, Parna Pethe, Shruti Vyas and Umesh Jagtap.
This year the festival opens with Piya Behrupiya, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by Atul Kumar which was first staged at the Globe to Globe Festival of Shakespeare’s plays, in London. This will be followed by Mohan Rakesh’s Adhe Adhure directed by Lilette Dubey. Sunil Shanbag’s delightful adaptation of Shakepeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well as Maro Piyu Gayo Rangoon, which sets the play in the ascendant fortunes of the Gujarati business community in colonial Bombay is next. This play too was commissioned for the Globe to Globe festival.
The last two days will have plays from two of the finest young directors at work today. Gasha is a look at the fractured and delicate friendship between a Kashmiri Pandit and a Kashmiri Muslim examined as a tale of exile and return spanning two decades. Written by Irawati Karnik, a recipient of the Vinod Doshi Fellowship in Performing Arts in previous years, it is directed by Bangalore-based playwright and director Abhishek Majumdar.
But, perhaps, the most anticipated play is the Marathi Uney Purey Shahar Ek, written by Girish Karnad and directed by Mohit Takalkar. It is Karnad’s most recent play and was written originally in Kannada as Benda Kalu on Toast and translated by him into English as Boiled Beans On Toast. Takalkar says he was drawn to the solid classical structure of this very contemporary play. “It was a contemporary play with a classical approach which means that it reflected present day issues. It went against the notion that a contemporary play has to be either inaccessible or fall back on the devices of physical theatre”, says Takalkar. Recognising elements of his own city in Karnad’s play on the paradoxical incompleteness of Bangalore as it grows, the play has been translated from English into Marathi by Pradeep Vaidya. It has a range of characters from a three- year-old girl to a 70-year-old woman of different classes and backgrounds and required a wide set of 19 actors who could play all the parts.
Vinod Doshi Memorial Theatre Festival
Where: Yeshwantrao Chawan Natya Sabhagruha, Kothrud, Pune
When: February 25 to March 1