Member of jury at the final round of Purushottam Karandak, actor and writer Kishore Kadam, provided a critical overview of the competition this year.
In an interview with dna, he said, “Primarily, what this competition did was dispel the myth that the youth is not well read. The diversity of topics addressed by the final nine plays is a testimony to the fact that they are aware, and are capable of processing and commenting on society in a creative way.”
Kadam only had praises for the winning play Ulagaddi. “I loved their topic and how confidently they presented it. It was a wonderful experiment, coupled with performances from both the actors. It was their maiden play at the competition, and the standard that they have set is commendable.”
Kadam was impressed by SP College’s choice of subject (a play on the importance of communication, shown through an excerpt from the life of Alexander Bell). He also had special words of appreciation for MIT’s Ka La Kaana Kaa. “To perform a play which addresses the debates with respect to Shivaji Maharaj is a courageous attempt. Especially keeping in mind the recent debates over freedom of expression and a general sense of intolerance,” he said.
Kadam added, “On the other hand, there were a few superficial plays which put forth a point of view without any reason. They shouldn’t have been in the final nine to begin with.”
“All the nine plays demonstrated some beautiful talent, enthusiasm and technique. There were several brilliant performances in almost every play. Tanvi Kulkarni, who plays Aai in Garware College’s Chocolate Cha Bangla, the man and the girl in Bharati Vidyapeeth’s Ulagaddi (Shivraj Waichal and Chaitali Bakshi), Kshitish Date who plays Alexander Bell in SP College’s Bell are a few that stand out,” he said.
Very pleased with the actors, Kadam said, “The talent we witnessed here is an assurance that there are artistes who will carry the baton of Marathi theatre forward.”
When the underdogs made it big!
Participating in the Purushottam Karandak for the first time, with a team full of rookies, most of whom were producing a play for the first time, Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Fine Arts were the proverbial underdogs going into this year’s competition.
Their play, Ulagaddi, was a brave experiment and a risky endeavour. However, against all odds, the team, led by writer/director Shivraj Waichal managed to win the competition and create history.
“We missed out on the forms last year. We were third on the waiting list this time too. We spent nearly three days and three nights at the Kalopasak office prior to the form distribution and luckily got in,” said Shivraj, when asked as to when the struggle for Ulagaddi began. Shivraj, the only member in the team who had an orientation in theatre, was clear of what he wanted.
“Our job is to create a play which reaches out to the audience and engages them. We didn’t enter the competition to win it, we entered to prove what we can do,” he said.
The play, set on the backdrop of Uttarakhand floods, is an experimental drama revolving around two strangers cast away, who are now stranded on a tree. Almost the entire play takes place with the two characters, a man and a little girl (played by Shivraj and Chaitali Bakshi respectively), on a tree.
“We had the backdrop of Uttarakhand floods. But we didn’t want to show the tragedy as if we are reporting news. The theatrical drama is what we were interested in and we stumbled upon this personal story of two people who cannot communicate with each other, but are bound by the adversity that has befallen them,” said Shivraj.
“As we progressed with developing the idea, the first obstacle was to make that tree, which is made of metal. Once that was ready, we began our routine exercises, we became familiar with our set and then improvised on various situations that could be incorporated,” he said.
Humble in victory, Shivraj, who won the best actor (male), best director and best student experimental writer awards, said, “I wasn’t expecting all of this. I thought the play would win the Jayram Karandak and that would be it. I am still soaking it in.”
Ulagaddi has made history by winning not only the Purushottam Karandak, but also the Jayram Karandak, awarded to the best experimental play.
A rare instance that has happened only twice before in the 49 years of this competition, Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Fine Arts’ maiden play has made it large.