Ranga Shankara fully alive again

Ranga Shankara fully alive again

After a long phase of cancelled productions and empty seats, Bengaluru’s iconic theatre space is back to its vibrant self

Mukhyamantri Chandru (right) and Sihi Kahi Chandru in the play ‘Kantha Mathu Kantha’. Photo credit: Sanketh

The Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival’s theme of ‘Staying Alive’ received a fitting response when Arundhati Nag was welcomed on stage with a thunderous ovation on Wednesday. “I am overwhelmed by the love. ‘Ranga Shankara’ is a teenage baby now as it completes 17 years,” she said, with a wide smile. 

Bengaluru’s iconic theatre space went back to where it was pre-pandemic. After a lengthy gap, the ‘Houseful’ board was on display outside its premises. The first three plays of the festival were held in a packed house. The event ends on Sunday. 

The well-planned preparations have paid off, feels Arundhati, Ranga Shankara’s founder. “There were apprehensions because of the pandemic. Therefore we decided to fund four local plays (three Kannada and one Hindi) instead of staging the old ones. This is how you feed the ecosystem. We wanted to populate the drama scene as, if not for the pandemic, Ranga Shankara would have backed eight plays in a year,” the senior actor tells Showtime.

The festival opened with two theatre giants coming together for ‘Kantha Mathu Kantha’, a meta play by seasoned theatre director S Surendranath. For the first time, Mukhyamantri Chandru and Sihi Kahi Chandru shared the stage in a laugh-a-minute ride with philosophical undertones.

‘Kantha Mathu Kantha’ is about two veteran actors who are inseparable on stage but don’t get along otherwise. Ego brings a huge rift between the two before they decide to put out a show ‘one last time’.

“The two actors might be old but they are young at heart. Their way of celebrating life is to turn the clock back by acting together. They always talk about death, either playfully or seriously. I tried to look at what happens when one of them meets the end,” explains Surendranath.

The witty performance of the duo was cheered on by the audience. “People need entertainment. Theatre will never die,” says Sihi Kahi Chandru.

Abhishek Iyengar’s ‘Lockdown’, an anthology of four stories on the importance of relationships in uncertain times, received a standing ovation on Thursday.      

The festival has adopted the hybrid format and multiple Live and Non-Live short plays apart from Zoom talks on ‘Staying Alive Online’ will be held online till Sunday. The closing event on the online forum will be a talk from curator Abhishek Majumdar. 

The festival is also hosting short plays inside the premises. “These are 30-minute plays, outside the auditorium, with not more than 15 people watching them. We designed it this way to beat a possible sudden lockdown announcement,” says Arundhati.

The event’s final play is Mohit Takalkar’s ‘Hunkaro’, in Haryanvi, Hindi, Marwadi, and Awadhi. “Mohit is one of our finest directors today and a recipient of our Shankar Nag award. This is a grand production with the actors coming from Jaipur and Bombay and the music director hailing from Rajasthan,” she says.

A group of rappers from the city will perform on Sunday at 5:30 pm.

What to see

In the Auditorium

‘Kaamarupigal’ by Ganesh Mandarthi
(Saturday, 7 pm).

‘Hunkaro’ by Mohit Takalkar (Sunday, 7 pm)

Tickets: At the counter
and bookmyshow.com


Plays and Zoom talks

Tickets: Bookmyshow.com

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox