Afsaneh – Bai Se Bioscope Tak
3RD March, KAMANI AUDITORIUM, 7:30 pm
Being a writer myself, I’m programmed to strongly believe that content is king. As a producer and director, I usually select plays on the basis of strong narratives. That is, stories worth telling. When I first read this script, the era, the language, the universe fascinated me, but mostly I was affected by the lives of the characters. The process that followed was very rewarding, especially when all the elements – music, dance, performances etc – began to come together. The result is a sincere attempt to provide contemporary audiences with a window into an elegant, colorful, but almost forgotten world.
- Akarsh Khurana
Fusing dance and dialogue, music and romance, humor and melodrama, Nautanki, the traveling folk theatre was a precursor to Bollywood. In cities and villages, people watched all night, drawn into a world of fantasy and make-believe.
When young Gulab joined the nautanki in 1931, she became the first female performer of this art & it wasn’t long before she was considered the epitome of wit and wisdom and was awarded the Padma Shri. At the other end of the spectrum, Beni Bai catered to the elite, with the more refined baithak style. Even though they propounded a similar art form, their lifestyles and audiences differed, and somehow, within the unavoidable rivalry, a mutual respect existed.
These two women ruled the minds and hearts of a nation for years. Yet they died sad and disillusioned women when they saw their art languishing with the onslaught of cinema. Theirs is a fascinating tale of emancipation in a society that did not respect its women. Theirs is a tale of Queens, in the time of Kings.
Directed by Akarsh Khurana, the play intersperses drama with folk dance, Kathak and live singing.
Best Director: Akarsh Khurana
Akarsh Khurana is the proprietor, producer and a regular director of Akvarious Productions. Professionally a feature film writer, Akarsh has been involved in theatre from a very young age. He began directing his own plays in college for intercollege festivals and Thespo, where he won the Best Director Award twice. His feature film writing credits include Krrish, U, Me aur Hum and the upcoming Anurag Basu project, Kites. He has also worked with Rohan Sippy, and was Line Producer on their recent feature The President is Coming.
Best Actor (Female): Tahira Nath
Once an advertising executive with Leo Burnett, Tahira got bitten by the theatre bug when she acted in and directed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and quit her job. A fine actress, she landed roles in A Special Bond, All About Women and got much acclaim for her portrayal of an elderly Gulab Bai (the queen of nautanki) in Afsaneh: Bai se Bioscope tak. She is now also devoting her time and marketing skills to make theatre a more lucrative space.
Best Actor (Female): Trishla Patel
Trishla Patel is a highly established actress in English, Hindi and Gujarati theatre. She started her stage career with the acclaimed Mahatma v/s Gandhi, and has worked since with senior theatre professionals like Pt. Satyadev Dubey, Naseeruddin Shah, Sunil Shanbag, Makrand Deshpande and Naushil Mehta. She has also featured in a few television serials and feature films, such as Saathiya, Bunty aur Babli and others.
Best Supporting Actor (Male): Hussain Dalal
Hussain Dalal is the youngest member of Akvarious Productions. All of 19, he started his theatre career with a couple of musicals, namely Time to Tell a Tale and Me Grandad ‘ad an Elephant. His role as Munnu in Afsaneh: Bai se Bioscope tak is his first starring role. He is also actively involved in the production process of all current Akvarious Productions.
Best Script & Best Choreography: Purva Naresh
Purva is a highly trained Kathak danseuse and an award winning short filmmaker. She has had 15 years of training in Kathak, under the tutelage of Rani Khanum, Uma Dogra and Ram Mohan Maharaj. She has been an integral part of Akvarious Productions having collaborated on recent productions as writer, choreographer, actress and production support. Her feature film credits include Hanuman, Kisna: The Warrior Poet and Krrish. She has written the critically lauded Afsaneh: Bai se Bioscope Tak, and has adapted stories of Ruskin Bond for A Special Bond 1 and 2.
Best Sound Design: Megha Sriram
Megha Sriram is a music graduate from Benares Hindu University. She has sung for some feature film soundtracks, including that of Manish Jha’s Anwar. She is currently working on producing an album of her own.