Thursday, February 2, 2017


Ø  Thiruvananthapuram based KN Panikkar’s Sopanam Theatre Group’s Team met with theatre lovers during today’s Director’s Meet on the play Uttara Rama Charitha
Ø  Grand Start of this years’s Living Legend Series started with an  interaction of Legendary Theatre Actress Sabitri Heisnam with all

New Delhi, 2nd February, 2017: 2nd day of 19th edition of National School of Drama’s International Drama Festival Bharat Rang Mahotsav 2017 today saw 4 plays being performed including 2 tributary plays of Legendary Theatre Directors K N Pannikar (Madhyamavyayogam) and Heisnam Kanhailal (Pebet). Apart from these Anurupa Roy’s Mahabharata and a play from Israel by Vera Berzak Schneider A Stranger Guest were shared with students, theatre aficionados, litterateurs and theatre lovers.

The play Madhyamavyayogam was staged before the discerning audience as a tribute to the Legendary Theatre Director,Kavalam Narayana Panikkar. The play was performed by Sopanam Theatre Group of Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala and was of 1 hour and 30 mins duration. Imphal based Group, Kalashetra Manipur performed Heisnam Kanhailal’s Pebet (Manipuri, Sanskrit & Non-Verbal) of 40 mins duration. This year 3 Plays as a tribute to Indian Theatre Masters - Kavalam Narayan Pannikar, Heisnam Kanhailal and Prem Matiyani who recently left for heavenly abode are being staged.

Sopanam Theatre Group’s Team Members which had enacted Uttara Rama Charitam met with theatre lovers during today’sDirector’s Meet. “Meet the director” is a one to one interaction with the minds behind the stage is a platform where the audience chat with the play directors, and other important people associated with the play.

Udyan Bajpayee of Sopanam and writer of the play Uttara Rama Charitam said, “I suggested to KN Panikkar to adapt Uttam Rama Charitam as the theater because I wanted to see the master of Shringar to handle Karuna. However he wanted to create our own version of the play with Ram as Purush and Sita as the reference to the Nature. Anushthup chhand is the first human poetry and we recreated our own version of Ramayana. In our version, conflict of Ram is in the lead. His conflict of whether to go with the opinion of people or his love for Sita takes the center stage.”  

Ms. Kalyani, Coordinator of Sopanam said “While writing the script the character of Ram facing the duality is the focus of Uttara Rama Charitam. Sita representing the nature or nature representing Sita is also a key element as well.” ; while Girish (the lead actor of Uttara Rama Charitam ) said, “When Panikkar ji approached our theater group and informed us that he is doing a hindi play. I was initially skeptical about the idea as I would do only Sanskrit and Malayalam language and asked him why to take so much risk?  To which he answered that he needed Malayali Hindi not pure Hindi. His was the thought that the language of theater is universal. Anyways I am proud to say that I am doing Hindi, Malayalam and Sanskrit play and that is a feather in my cap.”; and Mohini (lead actress of Uttara Rama Charitam) said, “The essence of Sita seeped into me because I am a dancer trained under Panikkar’s form of Mohiniyattam (a semi classical dance form of Kerala) and it helped me a lot while playing my character of Sita in this play. He has been a wonderful guide in my journey and he knew how to bring the acting out of the actor.”

Sabitri Heisnam, the legendary Theatre Actress met the students and theatre lovers during Living Legend Series – face to face today at the National School of Drama’s 19th Bharat Rang Mahotsav. She shared her journey till date with all present and said “I was born in a rural background of Manipur to a musician father (he used to play clarinet) and am not very well educated. My Aunt, the famous Manipuri Theatre Actress Gouramani Devi who introduced me to theatre at a very young age took me under her tutelage. I was of 7 or 8 years when my first play was performed and after the play the audience cried and prostrated to me (I was playing a God in the play).”

I met Heisnam Kanhailal (later her husband and a well known Theatre personality) when I was 16 years old and he was 21 years of age, he was directing a play which I was an actor. We got married in a traditional Manipuri elopement ceremony but my in laws didn’t accept me as their daughter in law because of my rural background and because I was a stage actress as it was a stigma back then”, she added. She also shared some anecdotes like, “Kanhailal was suspended from NSD because he couldn’t speak proper Hindi, but became one of the most famous Theatre personalities of India.”

When a question was asked, on whether nudity which was an integral part of her playing Draupadi what was her reactions to it. She answered “At first I was not fully naked I was wearing a skin colored dress, but I was not content with it, the social problems going on like the rape of a girl in front of her father-in-law and oppression of security forces and the insurgents groups on women in Manipur inspired me to protest in my own way. A theatre personality later credited me for the 2004 nude protest in front of Assam Rifles.”

Bharat Rang Mahotsav
The Bharat Rang Mahotsav was started around two decades ago by the NSD in order to contribute to the growth and development of theatre across the country with the aim of providing a platform for theatre performances and interaction. From being a national festival that presented the work of some of the most creative theatre workers in India, it has grown into an international event, hosting theatre companies from around the world, and is today acknowledged as the largest theatre festival of Asia dedicated solely to theatre. In addition to the national and international performances that are staged during the Festival, the fare also includes exhibitions, installations, interactive sessions with directors and performers for the general public and professionals, a vibrant theatre café, open forums and meetings and a shorter festival in another city to which some of the productions travel. For further information please visit :

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