Delhi is the home of outstanding theatre arts, whilst Mumbai is the metropolis of Bollywood aspirations. In Delhi, stage art has a special significance and a rich history that is still being preserved through a variety of institutions and live performances.

 Delhi, India’s capital, is so distinctive that it offers something to everyone. It has been bustling with possibilities for years, from its mouth-watering food to popular shopping places, monuments and old palaces, museums and government buildings. Out of everything, the city has been sustaining art forms and providing a platform for artists from different fields to explore, grow, and perform. It represents inclusion in culture, where everyone has an opportunity to contribute. One of the ancient gems of the city that is adding charm to it is – Theatre art. The many drama forms, stories, plays, and musicals.

Although many are aware that Mumbai is the “city of dreams,” many flock there to pursue their Bollywood aspirations and make a name for themselves as actors, directors, or singers. Delhi has been a well-known destination for theatre and stage art and has also produced many promising talents, but it is still less applauded for the accomplishments. While some of the artists here continued their careers in theatre and added to its appeal, others became great and well-respected artists in the cinema industry. In the western industry too, Los Angeles is recognised for its film industry, whereas New York is renowned for theatre. Although there has been a line of separation between the stage and the screen, there is still a connection that aids both industries’ growth in different ways. Their originality is beyond comparison.

Coming to Delhi and its vibrant stage art, the city preserves it in a variety of significant and minor ways – It has many students, rising artists, and has created a special audience of art lovers through live performances, nukkad nataks, drama schools, and college societies.

One of the well-known names is of NSD – National School of Drama, which has been a training facility since 1959, providing knowledge and enhancing the abilities of amateur artists. Although Sangeet Natak Akademi is its parent organisation, over the years it has relocated from a number of places. Mandi House is where it is currently set up. Mandi House, which once had ties to the princely state of Mandi, is now home to a number of theatre troupes and establishments, such as the National School of Drama and Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts. The creation of NSD involved numerous notable playwrights and dramatists. A comprehensive curriculum, the promotion of several theatre genres, and one of the best playscripts have all been created here. NSD has a unique identity that focuses on both conserving the past and fostering hope for the future. From the nation’s capital, these groups organise numerous performances and broaden the horizons of theatre art throughout the entire nation.

The institution also holds workshops and other annual festivals like the “Bharat Rang Mahotsav” to raise awareness of the local arts and draw in more visitors. Children and newcomers to the sector can always use it as an excellent learning opportunity to get going on their path. How could one not include the outstanding alumni and directors who formed the very foundation of NSD with a name like that? Ebrahim Alkazi, a renowned theatrical instructor, was the first to transform the school in 1962 with the help of his expertise, leadership, and strict disciplinary measures.  Many people still reflect on the illustrious 15 years the celebrated director spent at NSD, and his role in shaping the organisation helped it reach new heights. Without mentioning Ebrahim Alkazi’s skill, one cannot discuss Indian theatre or the National School of Drama in general. He made sure that the Indian theatre art is not lost and reaches a wider audience by establishing the three-year acting training, developing open theatre, and providing inspiration for the repertory. Some of his productions continue to receive praise as some of the best ever.

There is an unending number of well-known and gifted performers who are working in the entertainment business today, preserving the reputation of organisations like the National School of Drama and also bringing honour to the nation. The list of actors and actresses includes Naseeruddin Shah, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Neena Gupta, Anupam Kher, Om Puri, Piyush Sharma, Irfan Khan, and many more. This is the National School of Drama’s legacy. This institution is only one of many centres in Delhi that have made contributions to the arts by producing top-notch plays and musicals. One is the Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, a renowned theatre company that has been producing plays and offering acting classes since 1958. SRC, like The National School of Drama, has also produced famous individuals in the industry. There are additional independent theatrical groups with base in Delhi that create venues for artists to gather, create fascinating stories, and perform all over the nation.

Delhi colleges have cultural societies that support the arts and permit students to experiment in the field from the college level on up, even at the university level. Ibtida was founded by renowned filmmaker Imtiaz Ali while he was attending Hindu College, as is well known. Many others, such Manoj Bajpayee and Siddharth Malhotra, who attended Delhi University, launched their careers using the many resources the city and university have to offer. It goes without saying that the institution is the alma mater of several well-known artists, starting with Shahrukh Khan, the King of Bollywood, who graduated from Hansraj College and began his career with Delhi’s Theatre Action Group.

Through the Drama Societies at Delhi University, students are contributing to the evolution of theatre art by continually taking chances and incorporating contemporary elements that make it more applicable for the current generation. This includes curating scripts, performing, and taking part in festivals and contests. Women’s rights, girl child education, and scripts promoting community solidarity are among the topics that are publicly performed in the form of Nukkad natak. All of these places are unique in that those who have spent time in these settings honing their craft and giving performances on Delhi stages still have a special appreciation for their formative years as budding performers. These alumni have often reminisced about their time at the National School of Drama or Mandi House and how they attribute their achievements to these institutions.

The singularity of stage and screen cannot be compared, as was stated in the article’s introduction. However, as films have become a popular form of entertainment, younger generations are less familiar with regional art practises and distinctive theatrical methods. As a result, people frequently treat stage and screen the same, which is a mistake. However, acting for the camera and performing live are truly two different things, and sadly, many people from the younger generations have not experienced the latter. Even newer artists who enrol in renowned acting schools participate in stage art in order to later pursue an acting profession. It’s because the Indian film industry gives them more chances to become popular and rich than if they continued with theatrical acting. This art faces a number of different obstacles along the way that make it challenging for it to endure.

Some of these difficulties were brought up in our conversations with a few students and instructors from renowned theatre schools.

Many people these days tend to believe that theatre is the ladder to take you to cinema, that if you begin from here eventually you will reach Bollywood,” they said. “This is untrue. Both theatre and film have unique meanings, and each has something different to offer. According to me, this phenomenon is causing stage art to lose some of its splendour. Many members of Delhi theatre groups just practise and develop their acting abilities in order to pursue a job in the film industry. I’m still relieved, though, that theatre is generating finest plays that the audience enjoys” – An artist from the Shri Ram Centre.

Original art forms in India existed for centuries before the advent of cinema, and were supported by wealthy businesses and appreciated by enormous audiences. Since the 17th century, live performances of Ramleela, which depicts the legendary Ramayana conflict between Ram and Ravana, have taken place at festivals.  The popular theatre production Nautanki, which originated in Uttar Pradesh, had a significant impact on the Indian population. Dohas, ghazals, and chhand were frequently used, along with catchy songs and humorous dialogue. There are other well-known plots in this that centre on mythology. Nautanki, a kind of theatre that was once loved by both urban and rural inhabitants, grew in influence and scope as a result of assimilating numerous other theatre techniques. Unfortunately, the popularity that Nautanki once enjoyed is diminishing, much like that of many other creative forms, as a result of the rise of film and the elitist mindset that stereotypes this local talent.

Cities like Delhi still have a lot of places where individuals may learn about the subject and work to keep alive the artistic forms that previously captivated thousands of people. Those who are interested in finding out more can attend plays and exhibits at Mandi House, the Indian Habitat Centre, or the Kamini Auditorium, or they can join one of the theatre groups in their institutions. A Delhi Theatre Festival will be held in August and will feature many well-known performers and wonderful productions for the public.

Theatre has always been a means of expressing feelings and telling stories through music, quirky characters, and dark humour. Indian plays have masterfully portrayed the legends of the Ramayana, Mahabharat, and other great royal empires of India. In order to ensure that this vibrant culture is sustained, thrives, and receives the recognition it merits, Delhi must continue to support and maintain stage art.

Delhi is the home of great arts, if Mumbai is the city of Bollywood dreams. If Mumbai has seen the zenith of great artists, Delhi has seen their birth and struggle. Without Kala, Kahaniya, and Rangmanch, Delhi’s history would be incomplete!


Read Also : https://dubeat.com/2019/03/24/drama-sutra-a-theatre-report-in-three-acts/

List of Additional Sources:


Story of Ebrahim Alkazi, NSD director who shaped Indian theatre


Blog of Dr. Devendra Sharma, performer and writer of Nautanki artform.

Featured Image Credits: Top news India, NDTV

Priya Agrawal

With its skillful cast and brilliant script, Pagglait is a 2021 dark comedy-drama that was released on Netflix on 26 March 2021. It’s a must-watch for everyone interested in deconstructing the hypocrisy and blatant misogyny of Indian households within a patriarchal setting.

Written by Umesh Bist, Pagglait is a narrative about Sandhya, an Indian woman caught in the ugly shackles of a meaningless marriage. With the passing away of her husband, she gradually becomes the woman she needs to be. The thirteen-day ritual of her husband’s passing, brings her to self-growth and self-worth, thus giving her a rebirth. Thus, devoid of a very dramatic or scintillating plot, the Netflix drama revolves around Sandhya who has to die in order to be reborn, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

While Sandhya struggles to rediscover her newly gained identity, one can see a number of plotlines weaving a narrative that points towards the oddity surrounding the institution of marriage and the convenient ignorance of a woman’s wants. Such ironies can only exist in an Indian context where death brings more enlightenment than life, itself.

Set in the grimy streets and ancestral abode of Shanti Kunj, the plot opens with men and women grieving in their own little ways, while they also struggle to meet ends. What follows is a series of complex rituals so as to perform the last rites in a rightful manner. It’s not much later that the audience is also introduced to the “log kya kahenge” ritual with quirky comments including a relative saying how Sandhya “is not inauspicious as their horoscopes were compatible” when someone tries to question Astik’s passing. 

We are introduced to a rather bored Sandhya in the following scenes who casually yawns while reading the condolences, and later demands coke instead of chai so much so as to let everyone believe that she is not really grieving the death of her husband. The audience remains rather perplexed if she is in denial or was her marriage too hollow to even allow her to grieve. The rest of the storyline, then, becomes a quest of answering such questions so that Sandhya can gradually embrace her unresolved feelings and move forward as an individual. 

Acts such as the disgust of Sandhya on seeing the white sari that her mother brought for her or the frustration of her brother-in-law having to shave off his head further allow us to deconstruct and reassess the depth and effectiveness of such rituals, and if they really stand for anything at all, especially in the face of individual identity and pursuit in the 21st century. Other concerns such as the disgust of Sandhya’s in-laws at one “Nazia Zaidi” and the religious discrimination still prevalent at large hover in the background which all come to the forefront in this patriarchal framework of an Indian setting. 

The fact that her mother regards Sandhya topping her batch in MA English as the “qualification” required to get a nice groom with a 70,000 salary further makes one contemplate how deep the roots of such blatant misogyny and orthodox upbringing really go.

The discovery of Astik’s pre-marital affair, then, only becomes a catalyst in allowing Sandhya to break through this rotten carcass of a marriage, thus giving her closure. She gradually moves forward on the path of knowing what love is and understanding that she can only love someone else when she falls in love with herself.

Such discoveries are underlined and garbed in the layer of humor and mocking of Indian funerals, in general. In fact, the comic scenes are a relief to the serious undertones throughout. There are a number of parallel scenes running at the same time, in an attempt, of perhaps contrasting the same. Although the ending does become somewhat predictable with unnecessary build-up, it succeeds in its aim of communicating the larger message. The numerous characters and their respective growth and storyline allows us to see a bit of grey in each and every one of them. Malhotra’s acting in particular would be an apt one, especially for the role. She brings to her character, an unsaid obligation to give in and yet the need to break free.

Thus, Pagglait, with its progressiveness is a groundbreaking narrative in the Indian cinema. It’s not just the story of Sandhya but of every Indian woman: the pagglait for whom “everyone is ready to decide what’s ‘right’, and what she ‘should’ or should not do, but nobody once actually asks her about what ‘she’ wants”. The dialogue “Jab ladki log ko akal aati hai na, toh sab unhe pagglait hi kehte hain!” leaves the audience with more questions, allowing them to take such discourses home with them: into their own lives and of those around them.

Click here to watch the trailer! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xVqPbvLzX4)

Also read: #DUB Review- The White Tiger: A Gripping Tale on the Class Structure of Indian Society


Featured Image Credits: Wikipedia

Annanya Chaturvedi

[email protected]

The University of Delhi (DU) owes its fames to the college societies, in part. Touted as the best platforms to skyrocket your explorations into your skills and art, every society maintains a paradigm to approve their novel associations. More often than not, these auditions turn out to be hysterical memories. Here we discover some of them. 

Art is defined varyingly. Art is all about subjectivity and your ability to unravel exclusivity in monotony. Oscar Wilde captured it in his famous quote : “Life imitates art, or art imitates life.”

Our present discussion shall disgress from such ambiguity however, because our idea today is to revel in hilarity (as it should always be, in my not-so-humble opinion).

Now as we all know, life is as hilarious as hilarious gets (as mine is, always). Life is absolute conjecture in motion, a breathing being of uncertainty. And life is never a bed of roses (I wonder what that must feel like). Some people would tell you that art requires your life, in all its entirety. These people, you will find in large numbers in most of the Drama Societies around the varsity. 

Drama Society auditions are usually borderline crazy, most us will agree. From being a chair or a generator to shouting your lungs out from the farthest corner of this world (the venue for auditions of course), DramaSoc auditions have no reigns. More often than not, these tasks prey on taboos. They require you to push yourself, to be as raw, as unabashed, as uncivilized as you can dare to be. 

Having sex with a chair, sex in all its entirety – moaning and changing of positions expected; enacting masturbation in public or performing your best impression of any other carnal activity, these are just the first few tasks you are required to do. 

As unexpected is the emotional and physical turbulence that you go through. 10 rounds of the college ground, 50 push-ups, planks for 5 minutes; the slouch in me shudders to hear these tales. Hysteria? Maybe. 

Interestingly, the new recruits are forbidden to narrate their hysterical stories verging on humiliation to anyone. They are required to take them to the deathbed, but then, rants bring out the best in us. 

But if you thought that only Drama Societies qualify for this contest of hysteria, you could not be more wrong! 

As it is, the society auditions really vary according to the person who conducts them. When the interviewer is a skeptic, as was the one in a Literary Society, you can expect a question like – “Are you stoned?”- for just being your usual hip self. Hysteria travels from the candidate to the post holders too. One of the candidates in the same Literary Society heatedly claimed that being in the society was his lifetime fantasy, and that he do anything to get in. Another candidate heatedly entered into an argument with the President and discredited her merit by claiming her to be insufficient to judge his rightful claim (not worth) to be the only sensical member of the society. 

Literature and Drama might well be deemed expected candidates in our hysterical readings, but wait for the next stories still. 

In an audition for the Finance and Investment Cell in a college, a candidate having failed almost all the questions, was asked to teach any topic of his choice from Class 12 Accountancy Book. He did, and was surprisingly selected! 

Most society members agree that the key to sure selection is your dynamic spontaneity. In this vein, the Debating Society of a college conducts its audition. 30+ existing members of the society question one candidate at a time. As questions fly in all directions, your only defense is your spontaneity. In another Debating Society, they called Mr. Ashok Srivastava, editor-in-chief, DD News, to their auditions, for no reason at all. 

To conclude, probably a winner among disastrous auditions would be this one : 

In a fashion society, a fresher auditioning for a model, dressed himself as Salman Bhai and danced to Main Aisa Kyun Hoon. It is easier to say that he had the last laugh, because the entire hall was hushed and traumatized by the end of it. He also challenged the unanimous decision to reject him. 

And so they are, hysterical society auditions. And so they will be. Surely, these become stories we narrate to please ourselves, some years into a droll life. What is college if not hysteria, after all? 

Feature Image Credits : DU Beat Archives

Kartik Chauhan 

[email protected] 


Read how a politically stimulated University
of Delhi (DU) student became the icon
of cultural resistance in India.

As soon as you exit the Mandi House
metro station, one of the roads you might
come across is the Safdar Hashmi Marg,
which houses the famous Shri Ram Centre
for Performing Arts. Mandi House, home
to the prestigious National School of
Drama and other prominent cultural hubs,
acknowledged the fiercely rebellious artist
by naming a road after him, posthumously.
Safdar Hashmi is an indispensable figure
when it comes to cultural resistance
through art, specifically theatre art.
He pursued English Literature from St.
Stephen’s College and then got a Master’s
degree in English from DU. During his
post-graduation, he got associated with
Indian People’s Theatre Association
(IPTA), the cultural unit of Students’
Federation of India (SFI).
Hashmi soon left the body and founded Jan
Natya Manch, commonly abbreviated as
JANAM, as IPTA’s offshoot in 1973. When
Indira Gandhi was alleged to have rigged
the elections against Raj Narain, Safdar
produced a street play named Kursi, Kursi,
Kursi based on the questionable incidents
that took place during the 1967 elections.
The play made JANAM and Safdar Hashmi
immensely famous across the country.
In 1976, impacted by the exploitation
of labourers’ and workers’ conditions in
factories, Safdar Hashmi, along with five
other artists, directed a 13-minute-long
play titled Machine, depicting a situation
where factory workers were beaten up
by the security guards when they asked
for fairer working conditions. This play
instilled the conscience of people and
made them question the vicious cycle
of capitalism. It became so popular
that it was recorded and later remade
in several languages.
After Machine became a cult hit, there
was no looking back for Safdar Hashmi
and JANAM. JANAM got actively involved
with the issue of workers’ rights and,
within six hours of fare hikes by Delhi
Transport Corporation (DTC) buses, the
group directed and performed a nukkad
natak (street play) on the same. This was
followed by plays on various themes like
the distress of small peasants, religious
fascism, unemployment, inflation,
violence against women, etc. In the
short life of 34 years that he lived,
Safdar Hashmi gave 4000 performances
of 24 street plays.
It was a doomsday for the cultural
resistance movement when, on a chilly
winter morning, Safdar Hashmi was
attacked while performing a play in a
neighbourhood of Ghaziabad. Hashmi,
along with his fellow artists, was
performing a play for the candidate of
Communist Party of India (Marxist),
Ramachand Jha, when the Congress’
candidate, Mukesh Sharma, came and
asked him to evacuate the area to let his
rally pass. When Hashmi asked him to wait
until the play ended or to take a detour,
Mukesh and his goons got infuriated and
created a ruckus, vandalising and beating
the audience as well as the performers.
One labourer, Ram Bahadur, was killed,
and Hashmi, while trying to save his mates
and fellow artists, got hit by an iron rod.
He was fatally injured and got admitted
to a hospital but could not be saved. He
passed away the following day.
At the time of his death, he had earned the
stature of a hero amongst the proletariat
(workers, laborers and deprived citizens)
and artists. A huge crowd gathered to
witness his last rites. Incidentally, it was the
largest mobilisation after Independence
where people joined with a prior notice.
Today, Safdar Hashmi is a cult figure seen
as the symbol of Indian cultural resistance.
His life and legacy have continuously lived
beyond his own years, through art and
cinema. For instance, in 2008 Rajkumar
Santoshi directed Halla Bol starring Ajay
Devgn as an ode to Hashmi, who died
while performing a play titled Halla Bol!
In times of political unrest and democratic
upheaval, it is important for us, as
students in the hotspot of youth and
national politics to look back at those who
persistently utilised art to stand up for their
principles, voicing the need for justice and
revolutionary change.

Feature Image Credits: Telegraph India

[email protected]

India’s acclaimed writer, director, scholar, and voice of rebellion Girish Karnad passes away at the age of 81.

Girish Karnad (1938-2019) was an actor, film director, multilingual writer, playwright, and Rhodes scholar. He passed away on 10th June at the age of 81, after suffering from degenerative pulmonary disorder for some time. His sad demise has left a void in the abstract world of art and literature. One of the most revered personalities has left behind a long lasting and unfaltering legacy.

Born in Maharashtra and brought up in Karnataka, he began writing plays in Kannada at a time when they were heavily influenced by western literature and marked the coming of modern play writing in Kannada. Yayati (1961) was his first novel based on the predecessors of the Pandavas. Tughlaq (1964) till date remains one of his most acclaimed plays. He debuted as an actor and screenwriter in Kannada movie Sanskara (1970). His directorial debut was the film Vamsha Vriksha (1971) based on a novel, which also won him a National Film Award for Best Direction. He has also showcased immense talent in several Bollywood films, most recently Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and its sequel. Rakshasa Tangadi, a Kannada play on the Battle of Talikota, remains his final work.

Karnad is the recipient of several prestigious awards including Jnanpith Award, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, National Film awards and many more in the South and North Indian Cinema.

His contribution to activism remains invaluable. A champion of free speech, he was a critic of hard-line Hindutva and later the Babri Masjid incident. Further, he was also a proponent of secularism and multiculturalism, women’s rights, and identified as a liberal. He did not confine himself to films and plays, but fearlessly voiced himself for any cause. At an event at Bengaluru – which Karnad attended wearing a nasal tube, due to his deteriorating health – he wore a placard around his neck which said: Me Too Urban Naxal. Karnad commented, “If speaking up means being a Naxal, then I am an urban Naxal.”

In his biography, Aadadata Ayushya, he revealed how his mother intended to terminate her pregnancy when she conceived him. But due to delayed arrival of the doctor, his mother left the clinic. He went on to dedicate this biography to the doctor. Today the world mourns the death of this multitalented individual who could weave stories with colossal depth and meaning.

Kalrav Vashishtha, a first year B.A. (Honours) English student commented, “We had ‘Broken Images’ by Karnad in school, and I loved it. A few years later, I realised we just had a portion of it in our syllabus. It shocked me to the core to read the rest of the play. A masterful manipulator of words, he turns the whole play upside down with such haunting realism. We just lost one of the best writers in the country and the void can never be filled.”

His contributions in over ninety films in both Hindi and Kannada, thirteen directorial works, several plays and translations earned him places in institutes like Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Nehru Centre in London, and Sangeet Natak Akademi, among many others.

The master playwright was cremated in a quiet ceremony. He is survived by his wife, Saraswathy Ganapathy, and two children Radha and Raghu.

Feature Image Credits: Zee News


Shivani Dadhwal

[email protected]


27th March is universally celebrated as World Theatre Day. Considering how the city of Delhi has always been a theatre hotbed, we look back at a few theatrical moments chosen at random from last year, showing how the life of theatre actors can be as dramatic as the plays in which they act.

Act 1- Going Solo

Minissha Lamba in Mirror Mirror, at Miranda House.

Theatre, like any art form gets shaped and re-shaped in various ways. In that view, one trending phenomenon in the theatre circuit these days is the rise of the ‘one man/woman play’. Imagine having an intimate tete-a-tete with just one person from the stage, getting all dramatic with you and his/her own personal demons. There aren’t many fancy twists and turns, light and stage tricks. Just some raw and real emotion.

Recently, Aswhath Bhatt, for instance, drew crowds ‘cosplaying’ as Sadat Manto on stage and speaking the iconic writer’s lines in his own improvised manner. Aptly titled Ek Mulaqat Manto Se, Bhatt has had fame playing minor character roles in Bollywood films like Haider and Raazi. While he might not be a mainstream heartthrob (hardly any theatre actor is one in this country) but his Manto-based play drew popularity the last year with Bhatt even performing his one-man skit at Nepal!

The India Habitat Centre saw another play on similar lines called Tanashah, a one-man dance theatre piece by Navtej Johar acting out the prison diaries of Bhagat Singh. Drifting away from history, I witnessed a memorable one-woman play some time back, at Miranda House.

You might have heard Minissha Lamba’s name attached to some Bollywood movie while the teens of this generation were growing up. She even was famous for being a Bigg Boss contestant (usually people are infamous for that)! However, her debut at theatre came with an AGP production called Mirror Mirror, a psychological thriller where she portrays a pair of twin sisters.

Supported with voice overs and dramatic lighting, Lamba proved to be compelling enough channelling her inner madness. There was a lot of over-acting in the play but it was the right kind of over-acting, enough to draw earnest applause.

Maybe, Lamba’s tryst with theatre might mean she has more acting chops on the stage rather than film, as Bhatt’s case was mentioned earlier. Maybe, that’s the magic of theatre.

Act 2- Off stage

Ashwath Bhatt’s video from Jaipur, in which he expresses his frustration at how artists are to face trouble because of a few intolerant elements.

The part before was the intro, the good part. Now again, we will jump to one of the protagonists of this article, Aswhath Bhatt. It was early on this year that he was in Jaipur to perform one of his plays, a Kashmir themed piece titled Eidgah ke Jinnat. It’s quite unfortunate how the very word ‘Kashmir’ evokes pessimism in the minds of many an Indian. This time, too Bhatt’s journey in Rajasthan was met by the same brand of Kashmiri pessimism.

The Abhishek Majumdar directed play, talks about two orphans growing up in a radicalised, war torn Kashmir. The current state of this Indian state which this play mentions, is common knowledge.

However, the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar went on to say this play shows the Indian army as a torturous force. This was an exaggeration and a clear case of Jingostani media. And the comes our public which gets easily influenced what they read.

The first performance of this play went smoothly however, the planned encore performance never happened. The national mainstream came to know about this through a grimness evoking, dimly lit video recorded by Bhatt himself.

It turns out that a ‘mob frenzy’ for the ban of the play, took place at Jawahar Lal Kendra, the designated venue.
‘It was fine till it was a protest. But what happened here was clearly more than a protest. I don’t know as an artist where I should go now.’ This is one of the snippets from Bhatt’s video. Sounding chillingly similar to Manto, Bhatt added ‘If I have done anything wrong, bring me to court. I will answer myself at court then’.

This brings out an important question in lieu of artists in India. Our country deserves good artists but do good artists deserve this country?

Act 3- Separating the art from the artist

Mahmood Farooqi is a great theatre artist but his recent acquittal from the court of law makes us raise questions at his personality.

Hindu College in its literary fest were intent on inviting a famous Dastangoi team (dastangoi is an old form of Urdu storytelling which has been reborn in Delhi theatre) founded by Mahmoud Farooqi. Farooqi, a towering figure in the circuit, was however coming to perform a remembrance for the late Ankit Chaddha, former Ibtida president. For those unacquainted with societies of the University of Delhi, Ibtida is a leading dramatics society from Hindu College.
However, as it turned out, the performance never happened.

Farooqi is an interesting man to be judged as a person. News reports online can tell you in detail on how initially, he was alleged in rape case involving an American scholar.

The scholar was friends with Farooqi from before but things went awry when she alleged him to have had forced oral sex with her without her consent. Soon, a fast track court sentenced the theatre stalwart to seven years prison time. But unlike other such cases of violating consent, this case had several grey areas.

This can be understood on how the Delhi High Court acquitted Farooqi. It was found out that both were involved in consensual sexual relations previously. Still, previous relationships don’t indicate that you still have the right to do anything without consent. Any layperson can know that. This case however put the public in intellectual exhaust as we don’t know if the victim’s claims are true or not.

If Farooqi is innocent indeed, then the court’s judgement comes as a breather. Otherwise, it is another judicial failure where consent was not respected.

What is irksome is however the closing lines of the third act of this real-life drama, lines from the judgement:‘Sometimes, a feeble no can mean a yes.’ How problematic this quote is, it needs no explaining.

Urvi Sikri, a student from Hindu College adds, ‘Someone with his social capital getting acquitted that too with this problematic judgement really raises questions. I did not feel comfortable the least having this man in the Hindu College auditorium…’.

Featured Image Credits: Shaurya Singh Thapa for DU Beat, India Habitat Centre, The Quint, and NDTV.

Shaurya Singh Thapa
[email protected]

Bollywood movies take inspiration from real life but commits mistakes as well. People take the liberty of imitating anything from Bollywood which they need to careful about.

It is widely acknowledged that art imitates life. Movies as art forms constitute a big part of our lives. Movies take inspiration from real life whether the genre is comedy, romedy, action or horror.

Over the decades, Bollywood has imitated from life and produced movies like Mary Kom, Guru, Border, Chak de India, No One Killed Jessica and more. By turning a real-life story into a movie, it reaches masses that are free to form their interpretations of the same. Turning a real-life story into a movie gives a personal angle of the story to which people connect.
Some people complain that certain movies paint a rosy picture or don’t portray reality. For instance, the extravagance or grandeur of movies like Dil Dhankne Do or Ae Dil Hai Mushkil don’t lie entirely. To some extent, they showcase the reality of the upper strata or relationships in their crudest form.

On a funny note, Salman Khan’s signature step of Dabaang movie was inspired from his makeup-men or security guards. Movies like Dabaang and Singham try to reinstall our faith in the police force. We often come across similar stories.
To add to the touch of reality, celebrities often shoot on real-life locations and even campuses like Delhi University, IITs or IIMs. It so happens that most of the students seen in such movies are actual students of the institutions.

One of the most heated debates of recent times has been the endorsements of skin-lightening creams. Why does the country require them? It’s because girls are conditioned that beauty is only about fairness. When people started accepting their bodies, Bollywood changed its perspective too.

There are numerous instances that people imitate Bollywood as well and I don’t just mean clothes. Smoking is often portrayed in the movies as cool which the youngsters have adopted too. People are made to believe that drinking alcohol helps in solving problems but it never does. Bollywood movies often validate stalking of women by whistling or passing lewd comments. It even normalizes the fact that pursuing a woman aggressively will make her fall in love with you but all these notions are so incorrect.

There have been incidents in the past when young kids would imitate movie stunts endangering their lives but such things have finally stopped. But people often take inspirations from Bollywood movies to plan and execute thievery or even murders.
Both Bollywood and people need to be careful of what they portray and imitate.


Feature Image Credits: The Edge

Prachi Mehra
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Often times we see that the screen or stage adaptations of classic novels do not do justice to the nuances of the written text, however, director Ishwar Shunya’s “Joothan” based on Omprakash Valmiki’s autobiographical book of the same name recreates the monumental story with equal effect.

Joothan (leftover food from one’s plate that was traditionally eaten by low caste people after they collected the plates of the upper caste folks) chronicles the life and struggles of Omprakash, a “low-caste” boy living in an Uttar Pradesh village during the 1950s.

From early on, the play illustrates the social standing of Churas,a low caste community whose job is to clean toilets, work as labor, tan leather from dead cattle, etc, and establishes how economic deprivation of the untouchables is a result of the caste system. There are numerous moments in the 1 hour 45-minute long drama when the performances will give you goose bumps and the overwhelming feelings of anger, triumph, sadness, and hope.

One of the most powerful scenes in the play is when Omprakash’s mother throws dirty pattals (leaf plates) at a dominant caste patriarch when he humiliates her. Though the play is littered with tragedy, there is a segment which depicts a policeman sodomising a Dalit youth with an iron rod. The vividity of the scene is triggering and particularly disturbing. I almost wished the audience was warned about it.

The dialogues are honest and hard-hitting, with a liberal dose of crass expletives. While the casteist terms such as Chura, Chamaar, and Bhangi were used to portray the brazen abuse of Dalits, a section of the audience laughed each time these terms were uttered. The fact that the audience was seeking comedy in the humiliation of marginalized folks showed insensitivity of urban crowd.

The acting is on point by a superb cast. Abhijeet Singh plays the antagonist Chaudhary and Daroga very convincingly. Rohit Kumar enacts the innocence of young Omprakash with perfection that makes the viewer root for him. Anas Khan personates the adult Omprakash and arrests the attention of everyone.

The live music by Prasoon Narayan, Sachin, Prashant Misra and Raj Kishor made the production stellar. Kabir bhajans such as ‘Ud Ja Hans Akela’ alongside old Bollywood melodies like ‘Pal Pal Dil ke Pass’ serenaded the audience.

Lightning by Sachin Kumar and Badal Singh complimented the impeccable set that was designed by Kanchan Ujjal Singh. There were at least five to six different backdrops and the transition from one background to another was perfectly handled by Tanvi Goel and Manish Kumar. The collective efforts of the cast and crew encapsulated in a long, standing ovation.

Go and watch this LGT Auditorium Repertory production whenever you get a chance, because it will be totally worth it.

Poster by Ishwar Shunya
Poster by Ishwar Shunya


Feature Image Credits: Niharika Dabral for DU Beat 

Niharika Dabral

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The Prayogshala Theatre Group performed their first play Kathakaar in The Attic, Connaught Place. Their first project was a huge hit among the audience and garnered rave review.  This play was a collaboration of alumnae and members of Natuve – Theatre society of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, Deshbandhu Dramatics Society, Memesis – Theatre society of Daulat Ram College, Manchtantra -Theatre society of SGGS and Anubhuti Streetplay society of JDMC.

The play Kathakaar presented the relationship between Kanhaiya and Rishi, and how they struggled with their respective homosexual identities. The character of Rishi struggles with his love for Kanhaiya and his homosexual identity. Kapil Sian as Rishi does an astounding job to bring out the perplexities of his character and leaves the audience wanting for more. The play quickly takes many interesting turns as the audience soon discover that Kanhaiya suffers from a split personality syndrome.The play manages to leave the audience intrigued in the backdrop of murder and dual personality of Kanhaiya. Akshat Chauhan pulls off the character of Kanhaiya or Krishna splendidly, and deserves appreciation for his portrayal.

The play is written and directed by Akshat Chauhan. The script is crisp and deals with the romantic  homosexual relationship between Kanhaiya and Rishi quite delicately and maturely. Kathakaar; as an experimental and intimate theatrical play, does an exceptional job. The director utilised the performance space brilliantly and left no stone unturned in leaving a lasting impression on the minds of people.

There were only a handful people and both, the audience and the actors occupied the same space. A makeshift stage was set up and the ambiance was cosy, warm and relaxed. The dynamics between the audience and the actors was considerably different because of the form of the play.  The audience was as involved as the actors in the performance.

Nimish Nanda, Anisha Baura, and Anshul Mahindru as supporting cast members revved up the energy up of the play with their exceptional acting and deep portrayal of their characters.  The lights by Prashant Ved and sounds by Jyotish Dhanwani and Chavi Sagar left a mark.

Kathakaar tries to bring the issue of homosexuality to the forefront with the sensitiveness that it requires. The relationship dynamics between Kanhaiya and Rishi is explored wonderfully. The play was appreciate by the audience and had two successful shows one after another.

This effort definitely deserves praise as the chemistry between every member was palpable, and the dedication of every member to make this show a success could be seen in every scene of the play.


Feature Image credits:DU Beat

Anukriti Mishra

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‘Jeevita Chellave’ | Lok Kala Manch, New Delhi |27th August 2017 | 7:00 PM

Vayam started off as the theatre society of Shivaji College, University of Delhi in 2006, when a handful of like-minded and creative students decided to form a dramatics society in their college. The society that was formed on the ideals of unity, togetherness and creativity, grew bigger and better by each passing year. Gradually, Vayam started making a mark on the DU theatre circuit by winning laurels and appreciation. Today, the organization has ventured into the sphere of performing arts and boasts of a strong foothold in Mumbai and Delhi with several professional performances under its credit.

With a total of 26 proscenium and street plays based on various social issues, that have won many accolades on competitive and non-competitive platforms across India including National School of Drama, National Centre for Performing Arts, Prithvi Theatre, Jana Natya Manch, Kamani, Siri fort, India Habitat Center, Shri Ram Centre, Sahitya Kala Parishad, FICCI Auditorium, Hindi Sahitya Academy (Indore), IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Kanpur, IIM-Ahmedabad and the like; Vayam is constantly growing. The society comprises of a group of hardworking, talented and dedicated individuals consisting of actors, directors, scriptwriters, technicians and working professionals.

The White Saree‘ is crafted in the most beautiful, daunting and hypnotising manner, giving away parts of the current reality. The truth of gender roles, identity, sexual urges and the prolonged female oppression and how people need to make some difficult choices to escape the judgments of the society. The play is carved to capture the daily struggles that women have to go through expressing their true feelings of subconsciousness. The drama is filled with anger, love, emotion, dilemma, reality and fiction. It is that essence of sexual expression and the desire to express it freely comes with the constant suppression and emotional discrepancies. As the protagonist struggles  with emotional adherence along with the society’s antagonism that stands in the way of their inner motives we find her chocking onto her own desires.


The play engages the audience with dance and theatrical musical aura with jaw dropping plot, facial omissions, and the thrust to remotely claim a woman’s sexual urges and erotic fantasies through liberal expression rather than their lives running parallel to the alter ego which generates contrasting images of sexual motivation which are spurring to be satisfied which were otherwise hidden. The play finds the characters in a maze with suffocating lives inducing hindrance in their individual progression.


Event Details

Play: The White Saree

Organisers: Vayam Performing Arts Society

Written and Directed by Amit Tiwari

When: Sunday, 27th August 2017 | 4PM and 7 PM

Where: LTG Auditorium, Mandi House, New Delhi

Closest Metro Station: Mandi House Metro Station

For Tickets and other queries:

Rahul Garg: +91 9873 889 919
Amit Tiwari: +91 9718 358 345
Rahul Saini: +91 9968 997 049

BookMyShow Link: https://in.bookmyshow.com/national-capital-region-ncr/plays/white-saree/ET00060668

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