Last night, at Hotel Taj Mahal, the stage was set to honour the artists who made 11th Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards and Festival possible and successful. In the last six days, we saw an array of beautiful productions from all parts of India and now it was the time for the most coveted awards ceremony of Indian theatre.
After some hours of rain a cool breeze accompanied the calm and clear atmosphere of Delhi. Everything was settling in along with the guests around seven in the evening. All the nominees, judges and eminent theatrical personalities enjoyed themselves with sips of wine along with the tunes of beautiful qawwalis performed by Niazi Nizami Brothers.
Chap Tilak Sab Cheeni, a qawwali song composed by Amir Khusro, was dissolving in the air when awards ceremony started. Kabir Bedi and Shivani Wazir Pasrich were anchoring the show. The enthusiasm was building brick by brick.
The awards ceremony began with the Best Innovative Sound category, Darshan Patankar bagged it forMain Hun Yusuf Aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai.
The next category of the night was Best Light Sound Design which again went to Pradeep Vaiddya for Main Hun Yusuf Aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai.
For Best Costumes, Ritu Beri came to present the award who praised the Mahindra Group and Sanjoy Roy for the wonderful initiative that META is, and the award went to Sasidharan Naduvil for The Balcony.
Then a performance by Shabnam Virmani who recited the poetry of Saint Kabeer warmed the hearts of the audience. The performance preached a life free of all isms.
The Award ceremony started once again with the Best Stage Design category and Deepan Sivaraman (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) bagged the award for his precise scenography and an eye for spatial productions. He shared his award with Wenci, the video designer of the play.
The next category in the line was Best Choreography and the award went to Dr. S. Murugabhoopathy forKuhaimaravasigal (Cave Tree Dwellers).
The next two awards for Best Actor Supporting Role (Male) and Best Actor Supporting Role (Female) went to Shantanu Ghosh and Dyuti Ghosh respectively for Haoai — The Eleventh Planet.
The competition and tension is this category was stiff. So to lighten up the mood again Kalki Koechlin rocked the stage with her performance of slam poetry called Printing Machine. The audience roared and whistled in excitement, and praises were poured on Kalki Koechlin.
The next category which lined up after the performance was the Best Actor (Female and Male). WhereasSayali Pathak won the award in female category for A Friend’s Story, it was Prasad Cherkady who won in the male category for Akshayambara. In the same category the Special Jury Mention went to Ajeet Singh Pahlawal for Main Huun Yusuf Aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai. The group was overjoyed.
Now it was the turn of the Best Ensemble category and with three lucky sevens Faezeh Jalali’s 07/07/07won the award.
This year in the 11th META, the Life Time Achievement Award went to Ratan Thiyam for his enormous contribution to Indian theatre and also for the representation of the country at the international level.Shabana Aazmi presented the award and in a light moment pleaded him to cast her in one of his upcoming plays. Ratan Thiyam expressed his gratitude towards META and also acknowledged some of the major concerns which are haunting the growth of Indian theatre in the international arena. Lack of funding from the government and lack of initiative were his major fears and he thanked the Mahindra Group for their support in this, and accepted his token of honour.
Finally the most talked about categories were on the cards. The Best Director was next in line and Mohit Takalkar won it again for Main Huun Yusuf Aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai.
In the Best Original Script category Akshayambara written by Sharanya Ramprakash won the coveted award and in the end the Best Production went to, not surprisingly, Main Huun Yusuf Aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai.
Producer of META Sanjoy Roy, a man with iconic silver hair, delivered his heart warming thank you speech where he remembered Ravi Dubey, whose brain child META is, and who passed away last year. He thanked all the jury members, Teamwork Arts, theatre artists and volunteers who made META a success in its eleventh year. According to Sanjoy, META is an ideal which must be followed with several such initiatives to develop art and culture in this country and to support these wonderful artists who give up their lives for the passion of ART.
On this beautiful note the dinner was served and people went back merrily to come back next year with more enthusiasm to nurture the theatrical festival of entire India — Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards And Festival.
— Abhishek Tiwari