From the start it has been the theatre's business to entertain people... it needs no other passport than fun --Bertolt Brecht
The German playwright's words seem to be the essence of Ananda – the yearly Hindi theatre festival oragnised by National Centre for Performing Arts. Ananda meaning happiness or pleasure is an apt title for a festival revolving around the joy of good theatre. It is an ongoing annual feature of NCPA's calendar which showcases plays that have strong literary roots. This year, the four-day festival starting from May 1, will comprise a fine selection of Hindi plays by some of Mumbai's best -- Rakesh Bedi, Rohit Tiwari, Gouri Dutt and Ram Gopal Bajaj.
"It is our constant endeavour to offer our audiences quality performances spanning across genres and languages. Since 2011, NCPA Ananda has aimed to present the best of Hindi theatre to our audience. This year too the festival presents a small section of Mumbai's Hindi theatre at its creative best," says Deepa Gahlot, head of programming (theatre and film) at NCPA.
Over a cup of coffee
In a small secluded joint somewhere on the foothills of Simla, a coffee house is managed by a waiter called Satish Kashyap. Anup Chander comes to this place often to write his novels. He has been writing a series titled Tere Chhall which is extremely popular. Rahul Verma, an ardent fan of the writer, confronts him at the coffee house, as he does not agree with certain points in the series. The conversation starts at a very cordial note but later takes violent proportions. The waiter also intrudes during the conflict and becomes an integral part of the drama. Written and directed by Rakesh Bedi, Simla Coffee House has psycho-comic moments and tries to depict how society and literature are counter images of each other. "Sometimes it happens that the characters of a novel possess the writer," says Bedi who wrote the story almost one-and-a-half-year ago for a film but eventually decided to make it into a play. Asif Sheikh and Avtar Gill along with theatre veteran SM Zaheer will be seen in the play alongwith Bedi.
Colours of life
A musical comedy for children and adults set in the fantasy land of Bejaneehapinalapur, a colourful kingdom which turns black and white overnight. The only way to bring the colours back is to travel through seven different fairy tales -- Red Riding Hood for red, Great Big Pumpkin for orange, Indigo Jackal for indigo and so on. The Return of Baijaneehapinala by Rohit Tiwari is a humorous, fun-filled, adventurous, and sometimes dangerous journey of a princess, a boy and soldier in quest of these colours.
A stranger on road
Based on L'Etranger by Albert Camus, Outsider by Gouri Dutt is about M, a man who gets involved in a violent murder. As his story unfolds we see the journey of a man as he struggles against an indifferent world. A stranger on the beach picks up a stranded shell and hears in it the secrets of the ocean. He is returning home after twenty years, remembering along the way all the secrets he uncovered that were hidden away in those grains of sand. Two stories… two lives that flow in and out of each other to represent that one life is good as another.
Kaamiya is invested with autobiographical overtones of the life and society of author Kamla Kapur. Although making hilarious comments on society and the upbringing in a conventional Punjabi household, it highlights the isolation a woman must face if she necessarily wants to find herself.
"The play demands for review of conducts and ethical codes expected from women. It highlights the problem of dual standard of our society," says director and Ram Gopal Bajaj. Kaamiya is about the space to grow that society denies its women. "It is realistic experimental drama, not preachy but definitely asks you to think about few issues," he says.