Along with its warm temps, Nagpur is also known to be an extremely warm and a gracious host to its guests, right from the ones with the political leanings all the way to art and the literary giants of our nation. We proudly went a step further by hosting the four day 99th Akhil Bharatiya Natya Sammelan, organized at Ram Ganesh Gadkari Natyanagari, Reshimbagh. Nagpur has hosted a drama fest of this mammoth scale after a gap of 34 years, spanning 2 generations, and the city witnessed a bevy of theatre and cinema veterans and big wigs with the likes of Mohan Joshi, Shilpa Tulaskar, Mahesh Elkunchwar to name a few.
Nitin Naygaonkar, poet and cultural expert, is of the opinion that such initiative not only encourages a lot of actors both budding and seasoned but also guides them in the right direction. He said, the Natya Dindi was such a great platform to get so many renowned actors and celebrities together. What made this Natya Dindi even more special for the people of Nagpur was that they got a chance of a lifetime to walk with these film and theatre celebrities and meet them in person. He further adds that while the Natya Sammelan generated a lot of interest amongst the new actors, it might not create much awareness. The event’s itinerary included a lot of technical presentations which failed to attract a lot of common audience. These presentations were mostly designed by and for the theatre activists and unlike the Mumbai or Goa Film Festival, conversations and audience interaction about theatre and art of playwriting was missing.
The four day event has been extremely enriching for a lot of actor / writers from Nagpur. One such name is Abhay Nawathe, who had successfully adapted “Kagdachi Topi” for Marathi stage a couple of years ago for Saptak. He mentions that one act plays are not something that Nagpur audience is used to witness. “We haven’t really churned out technique oriented plays yet, but after this Sammelan, we feel motivated to try new styles and be more experimental in our writing and treatment of one act plays”.
Give the people of Nagpur a well written play and see the outpour. One such play was Bharat Jadhav’s “Punah Sahi Re Sahi Re” which attracted a massive audience in Suresh Bhatt Auditorium. The big hall was jam packed with people.
Actress Abha Abhijit Mule, considers the SB Auditorium as the jewel of the city of Nagpur. She loves the fact that even the senior folk can enjoy the dramas and the plays because of the location of SB and state of the art facilities in the auditorium.
Everyone, right from actor celebrities to organizers to volunteers are beyond elated to having pulled off such an epic event so successfully. Both Mr. Naygaonkar and Abhay Nawathe believe that more such events should be encouraged in our culturally rich country since we have so much talent to offer. Even the expenditure was seemingly well placed and resources were adequately used and investing in such festivals is imperative to “retain culture”. We couldn’t agree more!
2020 will witness the centennial year of the Akhil Bhartiya Natya Sammelan and the organizers have some very interesting things lined up already. The festival will kick off in Sangli, the birth place of Vishnu Das Bhave, leading dramatist and the pioneer of Marathi theatre. The fest will travel through 100 villages, towns and cities in 100 days.
We are super excited and looking forward to the centennial celebrations in 2020 and see more artists and technicians win more accolades for themselves and for each other. I know for a fact, that stage is an artist’s extended home.
In the words of Oscar Wilde, “It was only in the theatre that I lived”!