Maharashtra will celebrate 50 years of statehood on 1 May. To mark the occasion, the state directorate of cultural affairs (DCA), in association with the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), is showcasing the state’s artistic achievements. The collaboration has resulted in a 10-day festival, Natyarang.
1. Artists performing Powada, a form of Maharastrian folk theatre; 2.Chitresh Das for Fastest Feet in Rhythm under Natya Rang and 3. Teejan Bai, a padma bhusan awardee performs the Pandavani.
Natyarang began on 22 January with Rangpat: Masters of Maharashtra, an exhibition of the works of legendary Maharashtrian painters such as Ambadas, Ram Keote and Gopal Adiverkar. The definition of “Maharashtrian” goes beyond ethnicity and includes works by painters and artists who have lived and worked in the state. So Rangpat also includes the work of Tyeb Mehta and Akbar Padamsee. The exhibitions is on at NCPA’s Piramal Art Gallery till 31 January.
In keeping with the theme of the festival—the art of theatre—there’s Natyasangeet, which explores classical and semi-classical music that formed a part of Marathi theatre from the 1900s to around 1950. This section of the festival includes demonstrations of theatre music by noted classical singers such as Rahul Deshpande of the Virahit gharana and Manjusha Kulkarni Patil of the Gwalior gharana. Natyasangeet will be held at the Tata Theatre, NCPA, on 28 January at 6.30pm.
Marathi folk theatre has been the focus at Lokdharmi, a series of folk performances being held as part of Natyarang. The DCA invited theatre groups from all over Maharashtra to perform folk forms such as Powada, Gondhal, Korku, Tarapa, Dombari, Warli, Chitrakathi, Keertan, Kartab Kavayat, Bharud, Lejhim, Shabdved, Tala Vaidya Kacheri and Jhakdi. Though these folk forms rarely find expression in cosmopolitan Mumbai, they have been drawing crowds to the NCPA’s open-air space, Sunken Garden. The final performances of Lokdharmi are on Tuesday.
NCPA executive director Vijaya Mehta says, “Most of our members have a preference for Western and Indian classical art forms, yet the response for these folk performances has been encouraging and non-members have contributed much to the success.”
Another event to look forward to is Fastest Feet in Rhythm. A dance collaboration between Kathak exponent Chitresh Das and Emmy award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith, it will be held at Tata Theatre on 29 January.
And what’s a cultural fest without traditional food? Natyarang scores on this count too. Throughout the festival, women of Kutumbsakhi Sahakari Audyogik Utpadak Sanstha Ltd will be selling home-made Maharashtrian food such as sabudana khichdi, kotumbir vadi and besan laddoos, on the NCPA premises.
Natyarang is on at the NCPA, Nariman Point, Mumbai. Click here for the schedule.