Best of the young and the old

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Pune Natyasattak theatre festival, which is spread over next two weekends, offers something for everyone in the audience

With the fourth edition of Pune Natyasattak, you will get to see not only the best of theatrical performances staged in the city, but also the young, fresh talent getting equal space with veteran artists like Dr Mohan Agashe and director Atul Pethe. 

Organised by Wide Wings Media, Natyasattak will feature 23 performances by 23 groups that will be showcased at five different venues namely, Sudarshan Rangmanch, Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha, Bharat Natya Mandir, Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha and Balgandharva Rangmandir.

“The festival, which starts from January 11, is spread over two weekends. The first weekend will have Natak Company’s Mahanirvan, a full length play by senior theatre personality Satish Alekar. It will be the curtain raiser of Natyasattak 2019 whereas the festival will conclude with another innovative play Shahi Paharedar by Niranjan Pedanekar on January 20. The highlight is Natyasattak Rajani, the overnight theatre festival, on January 25, the details of which will be out soon,” says Kushal Khot of Wide Wings Media.

The festival will stage many award-winning and title holder plays like PCO by Pemraj Sarda College, Ahmednagar which has won the Purushottam Karandak in 2018 as also Rajya Natya Spardha (State competition) and Cy-Fi Karandak-winning play, I Agree. Oh Shit! by Sanvardhan Pune, the winner of Maunantar Karandak, has also made the cut. Another Purushottam Karandak-winning drama —Vipasha by Chakree, Pune will also be showcased. A musical play, JFU by Theatron Entertainment and Vinodottam Karandak-winning comedy, White Comedy will also be showcased here. 

“This year, we also have Balnatya or children’s play, and Maharashtra Cultural Centre’s (MCC) Jambaa Bambaa Boo will be staged as a part of it. MCC’s two other plays, Jara Samjun Ghya toplined by Agashe and Manjusha Godse and Jugaad with Hrishikesh Joshi and Chinmay Mandlekar, have been included in the festival. Actor Girish Pardesi will perform in Hash Ernesto Tag Guevara’. Andhar, a play by students of Abasaheb Garware College, which made it to the finals of Thespo, and Hindi drama, Bambai, by Wide Wings Media and 4th Wall, are also a part of the extravaganza,” adds Khot. 

There will also be ‘abhivachan’ of Parwa Amcha Popat Varla, by veteran actor-director Atul Pethe. Vaphallele Divas, a ‘natyavachan’ by Nilu Phule Kala Academy has also been lined up. 

Pune Natyasattak theatre festival will be held from Jan 11-13 and from Jan 18-20 at different venues — Sudarshan Rangmanch, Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha, Bharat Natya Mandir, Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha and Balgandharva Rangmandir. Tickets and the season passes of the festival are available at respective theatres and online booking is open at

A bunch of college kids, who were competitors in the inter-collegiate drama festival, became friends and after finishing their graduation, came together to form a theatre group. This has been a predictable trajectory for many theatre groups in the city, all united by their common passion for doing constructive work on stage. 

One such recent group is Aajkal, which was formed by Rishi Manohar, Devendra Charankar, Chinmay Deo, Aditya Pawar and Siddharth Joshi. The group’s first experimental play, Zabriko will be staged in Pune Natyasattak. 

Scripted by Manohar and Deo, the play tackles subject of mediocrity. “Zabriko is the story of a man, named Satyajeet (played by Tushar Dengle). Satyajeet represents everyone who has gone through a phase of mediocrity. In his fight back, Satyajeet tries to create something of his own. He also questions the veracity of truth and reality. The decisions take in national interest, the news which we see and read, are they true, wonders Satyajeet,” says Manohar.

Deo adds, “Satyajeet is a middle class guy, who is tired of being powerless. He knows that he doesn’t have the power or ability to challenge the existing structure. So he decides to create his own universe, his own country.”

The subject, admits Manohar, could be considered ‘heavy-duty’, so besides five ticketed performances last year, the group also invited select audience to seek their inputs on the play. “The treatment of Zabriko is very experimental. It dabbles in surreal and real and both intersect at several points in the play. We knew that this play would challenge the grasping power of the viewers. But we didn’t want to dilute our pure form of expression and so we haven’t changed the form, despite receiving adverse feedback. Some people understood what we were trying to convey, some found it too abstract. They couldn’t understand Zabriko and hence they didn’t like it. The complexity of Zabriko is its crux and simplifying it would have done gross injustice to it,” adds Manohar. 

Zabriko has a cast of 25 people and it’s a mob play, where the director and writer have tried to do something outside the constructs of one-act play. Both Deo and Manohar wanted to give their actors the full freedom to explore their roles all by themselves, instead of giving them tips on how to build the characters. “We allowed the actor to explore the character on his own and address his doubts about why his character is so. In this process, the actor can perhaps pick up on nuances or add layers which we as writer or director failed to envisage,” adds Deo. The 100 minute play will be staged on January 12, 9.30 pm at Bharat Natya Mandir.

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