Theatre feast in varied hues begins today

Theatre feast in varied hues begins today

Focus on interest

This Sankranti is truly special because it’s accompanied with Bahuroopi, one of the nation’s biggest theatre festival, beginning today. The country’s best theatre groups from various parts would unveil talents at the festival, which would also play host to several other activities, writes Sudesh Doddapalya

Hub of activity: Artistes rehearse for a play ahead of Bahuroopi in Mysore.  Dh photo by Anurag basavarajThe theme for the Bahuroopi this year is literature — literature of Jnanapith awardees. Kannada has received the highest number of awards — eight — through Kuvempu, Da Ra Bendre, K Shivarama Karanth, Maasti Venkatesha Iyengar, Vi Kru Gokak, U R Ananthamurthy, Girish Karnad and Chandrasekhara Kambara. So Rangayana, organiser of the festival, has plans to have the literature of these awardees as the focus.

The scope of Bahuroopi is expanding over the years and its popularity is ever-growing. This year the area of special attention is colleges and youth. It is a well-known fact that the youth are moving away from our culture and are not attracted towards theatre. So Rangayana is trying to woo youth. Seminars about the literature of eight Jnanapith awardees in eight colleges is a step in this direction. An essay writing competition on the life and literature of these awardees has also been organised. Apart from popularising theatre among the youth, Rangayana is also trying to make literature a hot topic among them.

An interest in literature evokes creativity among the youth. They can imagine things in their own way and also relate imagination to reality. So there is a lightning quiz ‘That Antha Heli’ for college students, again on life and literature of Jnanapith awardees.

Jnanapith award is being presented to writers since 1965 and till 2010, 51 writers in various languages have received them. ‘Jnanadeepa’ a book in Kannada about all the recipients of Jnanapith award is being released on the occasion. Various cultural activities including singing of poems, based on the literature of the recipients of Jnanapith would be held at colleges.

The main attraction of Bahuroopi is plays in various languages. Twenty-four troupes are staging plays depicting various cultures, 16 among them are based on the works of recipients of Jnanapith award. They are based on short-stories, novels and other forms of literature, which depicts all shades of human characters. An exhibition of documentary films based on the life and literature of Jnanapith awardees in various languages is also organised.

Bahuroopi also aims at conserving and popularising traditional art and culture and so folk dance shows have been organised on all evenings of the festival. Theatre troupes from Mysore, Bangalore, Hassan, Mandya and Kodagu districts would stage street plays at more than 50 places across the city to provide publicity for Bahuroopi.

The exhibition of newspaper reports and articles about writers published when they received Jnanapith award would give an insight into history of 40 years of history at a very short notice.

It also would include photographs of plays staged by various organisations based on the works of eight Kannada Jnanapith recipients. The display of posters of major experiments on stage in the history of theatre would be a big draw. Milestone shows of Rangayana would also be introduced to the audience through rare photographs.

To provide food for thought and food for hunger, a books and food festival are also part of Bahuroopi.

Peek into the past

Akka, a national women’s theatre festival, a brainchild of the then director of Rangayana — Prasanna — was held from November 18 to 25, 2001. Elated by the overwhelming response it received from audience, Prasanna started Bahuroopi in place of Akka, with a wider scope. Even the logo designed by K K Hebbar attracted many a people.

The aim behind Bahuroopi was to be inclusive instead of being exclusive. So theatre, folklore, sculpture, art, music and, dance were all included to make it a cultural festival. Prasanna hoped to have healthy discussion and conversation about theatre apart from staging plays.

When the third edition of Bahuroopi was held in 2005, the then director of Rangayana Chidamabara Rao Jambe had ‘Desi culture in post-modernity era’ as the theme for the festival. Desi food was introduced to the festival, adding more flavour. It helped common people, who were foreigners to modern theatre, to get attracted towards the festival.

Apart from the regular faces to visit Rangayana, news faces were seen on the premises.
Between Akka in 2001 and Bahuroopi in 2003 there was no festival in 2002. Bahuroopi supposed to be held in December 2007 was held in 2008 from January 12 to 18.

Rangayana director Jambe vacated office in 2008, so joint director for Kannada and culture Ka Tha Chikkanna — who was in-charge director — organised Bahuroopi in December. So two festivals were held in 2008. In 2009 Bahuroopi was not held due to various reasons. In 2011, the festival was based on the life and literature of Rabindranath Tagore as it was the 150 th anniversary of the poet.

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