Sahitya Kala Parishad, Delhi Government’s art and culture wing conducted the 4-day theatre festival as a homage to the theatre legend Mohan Rakesh. The annual theatre festival Mohan RakeshNatyaSamaroh opened on 11th November 2019 and was concluded on 14th November 2019 at Kamani Auditorium, Mandi House.
Sahitya Kala Parishad conducted Mohan Rakesh Natya Lekan Competition, in which top four play writers across India were selected for Mohan Rakesh Samman and their plays were presented during this festival. Kritha by Dr Sanjeev Kumar, Chaya-Hindol by Shri Raas Bihari Dutt, Anth se Aarambh by Shri Ravikant Mishra and Chauthi Cigarette by Shri Yogesh Tripathi were the selected plays that were showcased on each day.
The first day of the ceremony was started with a book launch of NatyaTarang followed by the Mohan Rakesh Award recognising the top four play writers Dr.Sanjeev Kumar, Mr.Ras Bihari Delhi, Mr.Ravikant Mishra and Mr.YogeshTripathi who were also honoured with cash prize. The first prize-winning play Krita by Dr Sanjeev Kumar and directed by Sanjay Upadhayay was presented. Krita is about a cruel chapter of sexual exploitation of Devadasis in the name of Devopasana. The play, Krita, opposes the practice Devadasis followed in the shadow of religion. It was one of the forms of body trade during the ancient age knows as the ‘devadasi system’. Young poor girls were cut off from society and were sent to worship and serve a deity or a temple, in the guise of dances, sexual remorse. Devadasi is a name given to a group of women who danced in the temples. They play showcase how these devadasis stood against this stereotypical practice and fought for the dignity and identity of their existence with the support of retired soldiers of Padma and Kapila Nagar. Some of the main characters like Punno played by Tanya Gulati, Kapalika by Karamjit Madonna, Padma played by Priyanka Sharma brought alive the cruel practice on stage. Co-directed by Vikas Bahari, the play sent out a strong message to all well-to-do women of society to step out of the hideous societal chaos and give voice to their identity.
On the second day, another strong play – Anth Se Aarambh by Ravikant Mishra was presented. The play directed by Abhilash Pillai is about the destruction happening in the name of development. The ultra-philosophical mindset that has been established in the center of life today. How the land, water and forest is being taken over for artificial world material. The play depicts a writer who lives in a village and his work suddenly gets recognized in the city. His writings get published and he becomes famous. When he comes back to his village, he witnesses that his village is also getting developed into a tourist spot.
The third-day audience got mesmerised with a play which exposes society’s pseudo-fourth cigarette. The play ‘Chauthi Cigarette’ directed by Dr Danish Iqbal has two main characters who become helpless nymphs in the era of capitalism and marketing. Vireshwar and Samarendu are cursed to withstand the tragedy of economic misery. One is an established writer of socialist thinking and the other one is an established industrialist. One wants to come out of the money world and the other wants to get fame and honour through money.
On the last day of the festival, Raas Bihari Dutt’s Chhaya Hindol was presented. The play directed by BhartiSharmais about the predominantly male dominated society and how women have toface all the situations. And in the end there is nothing but tragedy on herpart. The main character Chhaya Hindola who is a legendary singer of past era addressesthe pain in a different way. As the play continues, it shows how her famebrings an indirect insecurity to her old mother, and this insecurity becomesthe biggest obstacle in Chhaya’s love life. Chhaya who is a singer finds herlove in a policeman. With various circumstances going against her favour, Chhaya suddenly feels that she is regaining her love. Will the Chhaya who is grown oldwill again face the repetition of her past? The play kept the audience glued totheir seat.
Congratulating Sahitya Kala Parishad and the artists, Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, said, “Sahitya Kala Parishad is leaving no stone unturned to provide a big platform to the theatre artists and recognising their work on a national level. I extend my heartiest congratulations to the respected theatrical artists and the participating directors for successfully presenting their acts. And I thank the Delhi audience without whom such events are not possible.”