When we spoke to Lilette Dubey about the areas of improvement in Indian Theatre, she rightly pointed out to original Indian writing. We couldn’t agree more as she expressed about the dire need to have more “...Indian voices in English theatre” and that “…writing for the stage is very different…” from other writing.
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It got us thinking and we began to research more about the playwrights of India. Boy, were we surprised! Amongst many things, Indian theatre has seen a steady rise in the number of contemporary playwrights. Playwrights with strong identities, bold voices and refreshing narratives.
Trust us when we say that this article is only the tip of the iceberg…It really is. We strongly feel that each of these playwrights deserve to be written about in much more detail and their work should be rejoiced with all glory. As we set ourselves to bring you in-depth insights on each of their wonderful body of work, here is a very brief introduction to them. Watch this space for more!
Abhishek Manjumdar is a revolutionist playwright, often addressing the harsh realities of the contemporary world through his gut-wrenching portrayal of socio-economic-religious issues. Some of his soul-touching writings include Muktidham, Pah-La, The Afterlife of Birds alongside his prominent Kashmir based trilogy- Rizvaan, The Djinns of Eidgah, and Gasha (winner of three METAs in 2013).
With several feathers on her hat Annie Zaidi is a notable journalist, writer, filmmaker and playwright of our times. Some of her well known plays include Jaal and So Many Socks (nominated for META 2012). Her recent work, Untitled-1 won the Hindu Playwright Award (2018) while her play Name, Place, Animal, Thing was nominated for the same award in 2009. Earlier this year, Annie was awarded the prestigious Nine Dots Prize for her book (based on her essay) Bread, Cement, Cactus.
The only English playwright to be awarded the Sahitya Academy Award (1998), Mahesh Dattani
tackles deep-rooted social prejudices with his plays. Some of his renowned and celebrated plays like Final Solutions, Tara, Thirty Days in September, and Where Did I Leave My Purdah throw light on issues like communal tensions and gender identity. His plays Mango Souffle and Dance Like a Man have also been adapted to movies.
A man of many talents, Manav Kaul’s plays often deal with the interpersonal relationships, self-consciousness and self-awareness. No wonder his writing connects with the audience on a deeper, emotional level. Some of his popular works include Chuhal, Colour Blind, Ihaam and Aisa Kehte Hain. One of his highly acclaimed plays, Peele Scooter Wala Admi, bagged him a META for best original script in 2006.
A playwright and theatre educator, Manjima Chatterjee has always worked towards creating a democratic space that provides creative freedom to express. Some of her most revered plays include The Mountain of Bones (awarded the Hindu Playwright Award in 2013), Limbo (shortlisted for the Hindu Metro Playwright Award in 2010) and Two Men On A Tree (awarded eNatya Sanhita Award in 2015).
A very interesting element in most of Neel Chaudhuri’s work is that movement has the same function as dialogue. Often writing and directing his own plays, some of his well-known works include Taramandal that won Hindu Metro Playwright Award in 2010 and Toto Funds Arts Award in 2011, Positions, Ich Bin Fassbinder and Still and Still Moving.
An accomplished playwright, theatre-maker, and dancer, Purva Naresh has travelled across national and international stages with her work. Some of her best plays include Afsaneh-Bai Se Bioscope Tak, OK Tata Bye-Bye and Jatinga. Her plays have been nominated for the METAs and have also won the Laadli National Media Award.
Sneh Sapru combines fantasy with realism by writing about dreams, imagination, and hope, centering it around human life. Her plays include Hello Farmaaish that was short-listed for the Hindu Playwright Award in 2018 and Elephant In The Room that won three METAs in 2017.