“Looking at the scale of the awards, I am happy to observe that Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) would be considered one of the finest awards in Indian Theatre,” observed well known actor Manoj Bajpai when invited to felicitate veteran Marathi theatre exponent Arun Kakade, commonly known as ‘Kakade Kaka’. Kaka was conferred upon the META 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award at the awards night held at the glitzy Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi.
Jointly promoted by the Mahindra Group as part of its cultural outreach, and entertainment company Teamwork Arts, META Festival celebrated 10 exceptional productions and felicitated the outstanding efforts in the regional and commercial theatre. This year brought the 12th edition of this festival in which 10 plays were staged in the capital from March 4 to March 9 at Kamani Auditorium, Little Theatre Group (LTG) and Sri Ram Centre, namely, Lassanwala, Bhima, Elephant In The Room, The Outcaste, Kaali Naadakam, Dhumrapaan, Mahabharata, Awddyo Shesh Rajani, Katha Sukavi Suryamall ki and I don’t like it as you like it.
Selected by a very discerning jury of eminent theatre practitioners namely, Arundhati Raja, Deepa Punjani, Deepan Sivaraman, Danish Husain and Debesh Chatterjee, these plays were selected from among 300 entries that were submitted this year. The repertoire comprised of a fine selection of Bengali, Malayalam, Rajasthani, Kannada, Hindi and English language scripts.
As Sanjoy K Roy, MD, Teamwork Arts & Festival Producer put it: “The journey of META has been one of the most artistically fruitful and soul-satisfying for all of us. META 2017 brought together some of the finest theatre from across the country. From the heartwarming story of an upper caste person breaking bread with a Dalit to the machinations in a corporate office, from the saga of the Mahabharata to the inner musings of Ganesha, the actors transported us across time and space and reflected the diversity and cultural richness of India.”
While Mahabharata bagged the award for Best Production along with Best Director and Best Choreography, I Don’t Like It As You Like It, won Best Ensemble, Best Stage Design and Best Actor in Supporting Role (Female), and Elephant in the Room won Best Actor in a Lead Role (Female), Best Costume Design and Best Light Design, giving them three awards each. The award for Best Actor in a Lead Role (Male) was jointly presented to Anirban Bhattacharya (Awddyo Shesh Rajani) and Rajendra Panchal (Katha Sukavi Suryamall Ki).
Directed by Anurupa Roy, Mahabharata used life size shadow puppets with a lot of extensions. The scattered narrative had 13 characters who ponder over their role in the war. They are not heroes or villains, simply grey in colour and human.
The Outcaste was the dramatisation of an autobiographical account of Sharankumar Limbale that reflects the state of caste politics in India. The play brings to fore the Dalit inner quest for identity using original language, idiom, metaphor and imagery.
Hosted by Prateik Babbar and Shilpa Shukla, the scintillating awards night on March 10 saw several luminaries, including Manoj Bajpayee, Sushma Seth, M.K Raina, Sachin Khedekar, Bubbles Sabharwal, Dadi Pudumjee, Vinod Nagpal, Sanjana Kapoor, Nicholas Idier andJim Hollington. Performances by the band Samarpan, Harpreet, Neil Madhav and Rachna Yadav further enlivened the proceedings.
Veterans from theatre, cinema, music, and dance presented the coveted awards to the ecstatic awardees andnoted personalities like Manoj Bajpayee, Meera & Muzaffar Ali, Aditi Mangaldas and Seema Biswas were among those who gave away awards.