Treat for theatre lovers as Theatre Fest comes to city

ST CORRESPONDENT
Thursday, 7 February 2019

Ashok Kulkarni said, “Vinod Doshi, artist and noted theatre patron, passed away 10 years ago. His wife, Sarayu and their son Maitryei called me and said they wanted to start something in memory of Vinod. Satish (Alekar) and I went to meet them in Mumbai."

PUNE: The last week of February continuing into the first week of March has always been much looked forward to in the cultural calendar of the city. It is the time when the Vinod Doshi Memorial Theatre Festival, organised by Sahitya Rangabhoomi Pratishthan, brings carefully curated Marathi and non-Marathi plays to the city. 

The festival would continue with the same tradition of bringing multi-lingual and multi-format theatre to Pune from this year, under a new name - Saarang Theatre Festival. This would be the first edition of the Saarang Theatre Festival, supported by Parimal and Pramod Chaudhari of Praj Industries Ltd.

Explaining the change of name, Ashok Kulkarni, Managing Trustee of the Sahitya Rangabhoomi Pratishthan, said, “Vinod Doshi, artist and noted theatre patron, passed away 10 years ago. His wife, Sarayu and their son Maitryei called me and said they wanted to start something in memory of Vinod. Satish (Alekar) and I went to meet them in Mumbai. We were in for surprise because we didn’t expect that Pune would get a five-day theatre festival. In two days, we drew up the outline of a five-day theatre festival. But this came with a condition. They would support and sponsor the festival for a certain number of years, after which they would like to withdraw and help some other theatre group in other parts of the country. The Doshis said after a certain period, they wanted the people of Pune to take charge of the festival. This year, we had to start afresh and Parimal and Pramod Chaudhari have stepped forward to help us.”

When asked about the name of the festival, Kulkarni said, “Girish Karnad, veteran artiste, came up with this name. I had consulted him and he said, ‘Name it Saarang, with double a’. Saarang is the short form of the Sahitya Rangabhoomi Pratishthan. It also means ‘madhur’, ‘sundar’ (sweet, beautiful).”

Playwright Alekar said the festival, in its previous avatar, has carved a new tradition in the theatre scene. “Over the years, the festival has got its own audience. The response is growing. We have made it a point that the format should be multi-lingual because we should know what kind of work is going on in other parts of the country. We should acquaint ourselves with the sensibilities that are emerging in other states. They are showing the realities of societies in innovative, oblique or straight up fashion. We try to bring all this to Pune,” he added.

Parimal Chaudhari, who was present at the press conference, said, “Pramod and I are supporting this festival on our own. Praj and Praj Foundation are not in the picture. We have been theatre-goers, watching plays at the Bharat Natya Mandir. It just happens that along the way, you land up in a position that I was here. I just happen to be the moneybag. The Doshis have worked hard at it and we joined the bandwagon. Everyone tells stories, but theatre does it differently, it is far more intimate. So this year, we are doing it. As for next year, I will say, we will see.”

LINE-UP OF THE FEST
- The Saarang Theatre Festival will be held at 7.30 pm at Yashwantrao Chavan Auditorium, Kothrud between February 25 and March 1. Tickets are available at the venue and also on www.bookmyshow.com 
- Feb 25: The Company Theatre’s Detective 9-2-11
- Feb 26: Theatron’s Davikadun Chauthi Building (inaugural show)
- Feb 27: Indianostrum Theatre, Pondicherry’s Chandala, Impure 
- Feb 28: Aasakta Kalamach’s Chaheta
- March 1: Arpana Theatre and Prithvi Theatre’s Deewar

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