A decade for Ranga Shankara

Arundhati Nag, founder of Ranga Shankara Photo: Rajeev Bhatt  

Ranga Shankara has held forth as a cultural hub and one of India’s foremost theatre spaces in an ever-changing Bangalore for a decade. Around 13 acclaimed plays will be performed to commemorate ten years since Ranga Shankara was inaugurated. The Festival starts on October 28 and concludes on , the 60 birthday of the late actor Shankar Nag, November 9. Set up by Arundathi Nag, Ranga Shankara, a state-of-the-art theatre facility, over the years, has had close to 4000 shows in 34 languages staged.

While reminiscing about the journey of Ranga Shankara, Arundathi says: “34 years ago there was no theatre over here there was only one theatre, Ravindra Kalakshetra. My husband and I did our early theatre in Bombay, doing sometimes 42 shows a month, Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi theatre. To suddenly come to this city which had one theatre, one show. That was quite a change in my life. I think every theatre person’s dream is to build a theatre or to have a rehearsal space in his or her house. We wanted a space. It took so many years. It was not like a massive plan. It was just a very deep and strong desire that gave it wings. Today, when you look back you would think that I was a great management planner. Many things, if you look at it intuitively, may have looked like there was a grand plan. There wasn’t.”

The plays selected for the Festival give a glimpse of Indian theatre. There is Atul Kumar’s Piya Behrupiya, a Hindi adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by Amitosh Nagpal. Ganapati, directed by Veenapani Chawla, presented by Adishakti. Maya Bazaar, a Telugu play, presented by Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali from Hyderabad. Neenaanaadre Naaneenena, a Kannada play, written by S. Surendranath, Boy With a Suitcase, a collaboration between Ranga Shankara and Schnawwl, Mannheim. Girish Karnad’s Naga Mandala in Punjabi, translated by Dr. Surjit Patar and directed by Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry. Ms. Meena, presented by Perch, Chennai. Abhishek Majumdar’s Kaumudi, in Hindi. Chirabande Wade in Kannada, directed by Pramila Bengre. Uney Purey Shahar Ek a Marathi translation of Girish Karnad’s Benda Kaalu On Toast, directed by Mohit Takalkar. Sunil Shanbag’s Stories in a Song. Love Letters in English, presented by Rage, Mumbai and Ismat Apa Ke Naam in Hindustani, written by Ismat Chughtai and directed by Naseeruddin Shah. “We have called some of the plays our audiences have enjoyed and we have loved. We’ve done a fairly nice selection. If anybody cares to understand what are the best directors of the country thinking of. What is their work like. They will understand just in 13 plays what is going on. The plays feature urban Indian contemporary theatre. It isn’t all encompassing,” says Arundathi.

Some of the plays have a long-standing tradition. “We are fortunate to have a Neelam Mansingh who performed Naga Mandala in the first festival, come back ten years later. Love Letters has been around for 22 years. Maya Bazaar, should be declared a national wealth, retain it, maintain it, with a sense of pride. Here’s a theatre group which is a 127-years-old, with 60 members of the same family performing.”

Arundhati has ensured that Ranga Shankara has dedicated itself only to theatre. “We knew what we wanted. When a place knows what it wants, half the battle is won. By defining what we don’t want, we have defined what we want. We were very sure that this space is for theatre. It is not for dance, not for music. When we started people said, ‘They don’t want late comers, they don’t want children below eight, they don’t want music! What do they want? They didn’t understand why we did this. You don’t go for medical advice when you go to a lawyer. This is theatre. Of course, theatre is an amalgamation of all the arts, but the requirements of Indian theatre are more than Indian dance and music, which are by nature solo. We were very sure we don’t want art installations and confuse the audience. We were very sure we wanted to be simple. We don’t want to clutter your mind. We don’t put plastic flowers. We take the trouble to put only real flowers. We wanted it to flow and not make a statement of where it is coming from. Surely not which pocket it is coming from.”

Tickets are available at the venue and at For details, visit

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 7:33:13 PM |

Next Story