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Theatre & Drama

Abhedya Artworks presents A Theatrical Experience: Resham & Javeda

Written and directed by Navaldeep Singh, both plays are unique and distinct from each other.

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Afsaaney

Theatre is the art of beholding reality through performances, through stories. The ability of a breathtaking performance to move us to a different dimension and give us subtle, yet beautiful moments is indeed a thrilling experience.

With the aim of providing a similarly exciting experience to the audiences, Abhedya Artworks, A Theatre Troupe from Mumbai is touring 5 cities with two of their most celebrated Theatre Productions Resham and Javeda. Written and directed by Navaldeep Singh, both plays are unique and distinct from each other, ensuring its viewers’ diverse experiences in a single show.

On one hand, Javeda explores the theme of a forbidden love story between two individuals who defy all odds simply through the power of their love, while on the other Resham is a hilarious political satire featuring a rural village, with some delightfully sardonic commentary on the priorities of this nation’s government.

With an immensely talented cast and crew, Navaldeep’s Abhedya Artworks will begin its journey from Bangalore on 18th May with their first show at KEA Prabhath Rangamandira. They will then head to Gwalior, Delhi and Pune before they finally conclude the tour in Mumbai.

The show dates and timings are as follows
Bangalore- 18 May, 7:00 PM KEA Prabhath Rangamandira
Gwalior- 24 May, 7:30 PM Natya Mandir, Dal Bazaar
Delhi- 25 May 4:00 PM & 7 PM Akshara Theatre
Pune- 02 June, 7 PM Jyotsana Bhole Sabhagruha
Mumbai- 07 June, 7 PM Sathaye Auditorium, Vile Parle

Don’t miss out on an incredible experience. Go book your tickets on http://bit.ly/Afsaaney

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Theatre & Drama

Draupadi: An Awakening and Enthralling Monologue

A theatrical performance to capture the essence and tragedy of Draupadi’s life in light of a new beginning and repentance.

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Draupadi

A quest for identity. Women all around the world are contained by multiple barriers and entanglements, trying to acquire their lost identity midst the forced layers, they are supposed to put up. Cracking of shells and emergence of voice with so much gravity. A solo performance of Draupadi’s Monologue leaves you baffled and dazzled. 

In Pratibha Ray’s Draupadi theatrical Monologue, Draupadi addresses Krishana and questions the humiliation and cruel injustice she had to bear. Imposing the question of being insulted and disparaged for the entire world to see. A complete contrast to esteemed Dharma clashed with the war of self-respect and Draupadi’s as a puppet in the bigger play. Diving into the in-depth identity of Draupadi is clouded by uncertain dilemmas. 

The portrayal of Draupadi is startling and shivering as she talks about the aftermath of the Kurukshetra war, her voice cold almost piercing as she narrates. The contrasting dilemma of Karma and Dharma engulfed everything leaving a deafening void. Regret, Mourning and Mortification are the only emotions drawing everyone. A voice full of rage, she imposes how everything is taken away from her as well from everyone with absolutely no benefit. Draupadi looks for victory, revenge for her humiliation but she ends up in a towering fury of mother’s loss of a son, a void impossible to fill again. The actor playing Draupadi portrays such intense intimate emotions of immense regret and the severity of revenge brings nothing but harm. Blood is vengeful and can satisfy no human, the delivery of lines is immaculate. 

Draupadi grieving for his lost son, Abhimanyu and in this process questioning the authority and consequences leading to untimely death is staggering, touching upon the lack of humanity and its foundation. The depiction of Bheem rubbing Dushasan blood as signifying revenge, the emotions of trauma and fear of more loss are portrayed in a petrified way by the actor almost unsettling. Draupadi’s monologue of what sin can Abhimanu’s death compensate for? Is awakening, the gravity of words and acting it out is wonderfully done, successfully making the audience entirely enthralled. 

The identity of a woman and her motherhood is shown with an intertwining of delicate sentiments through Draupadi’s voice. As a woman, often voices are unheard but when a woman musters the courage to speak, her voice echoes. Draupadi’s stance of asking Krishna, for one last time is laced with so much pain and remorse but with a discerning set of blessings for the entire world. The panning of the camera focusing in and out provides great emphasis as well to show elaborate facial expressions. 

The Looming red light and the spotlight on the actor create a dawning image, almost like a revelation. The words of Draupadi we always come across but this time a vision so authentic bearing emotions, makes you want to rethink the history. 

Credits: YouTube (Yatri Theatre)
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Interviews

Made for the Screens: Interview with Director Actor Manahar Kumar

An interview with actor-director, student Emmys winner, Manahar Kumar, and his journey with acting, writing and more

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Manahar Kumar

It would still be an underestimation to say that Manahar Kumar doesn’t inhale films to their deepest cores to understand the beauty and creation of this art. While interviewing the exuberant writer, director, and actor, with innumerable accolades to his name, Manahar’s way of describing filmmaking struck us in awe. He has not only worked hard to create for himself the stage he is standing on today, but has unravelled the artistry of film and direction to new avenues. 

We offer you to ride this boat of the actor and co-founder of the production house, ‘UnTied Laces’, and Students Emmys Award Winner, Manahar Kumar’s inspirational and beautiful journey of films.   

Early Life

The professional English theatre in Chandigarh had its influences on a growing Manahar. Currently, he is pursuing his undergraduate degree from Manipal, South India. The pieces and parts of India built him, his senses, and his creative imagination, which he so fluently incorporates in his movies. Through the years, being a part of classics like The Mousetrap, Mother’s Day, The Night of January 16 and 12 Angry Jurors (Men), he got glimpses of the performing arts. As he says, films became an elixir for him. Films enriched him during his high school days when science studies exhausted him. 

Belonging from a family of teachers and educators, Manahar, too, was expected to follow the same line. However, just after 2 and a half weeks in engineering, Manahar took the decision to drop out. It definitely wasn’t in tune with his passions and desires. The question of pursuing a career in films and acting dismantled his family and friends a little. However, his family felt the burning flames in Manahar’s eyes for the path he wanted to pursue. Since then, they’ve had his back throughout. 

Filming and acting brought wings to his dreams, something to cherish and desire for. Through experiences in college, in street plays, the stage and shorts, Manahar devoted no less than 10,000 hours to the craft. While in the US, he invested time in observation, reading, and writing, creating scripts and acting in films.

It was not surprising that, with the ultimate belongingness that Manahar Kumar felt with films, he co-founded UnTied Laces, a production house, presenting works of a plethora of genres and crafts. 

The Origin of Student Emmys Award Winning: Kya Dekh Raha hai? (What are you looking at?)

Manahar’s short documentary, ‘Kya Dekh Raha Hai? (What are you looking at?) fetched him a Student EMMYs Award and 9 International film festival selections. The origin of this documentary is honest, and a result of Manahar’s creativities and curiosity. 

What birthed this short documentary was the Winter of 2017, in the chilly city of Chandigarh, India. While parked in a crowded marketplace, Manahar could hear the cackling of empty alcohol bottles. Curious, he saw a group of poverty-stricken kids with huge white sacks, speaking to an old man in a car. It caught his attention, and questions arose: are they selling drugs? Are they forcefully a part of an underground gang? A couple of weeks later, in the same area, the same thing happened. Manahar drove back home and brought his DSLR and lava mic and started filming the kids. He asked questions from the kids and the truths which came out astonished him. He edited the film in 48 hours, but didn’t release it publicly yet. 

Fast forward a few months, he chose Savannah College of Art and Design for his Master of Fine Arts over his life-long dream of Stella Adler School of Acting in New York (which he got selected in. too).

Winter of 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia, he requested Prof. Quinlan O’rear to see the documentary. The professor liked it and said, “This is powerful stuff, Manahar. Are you happy with the edit?”. Manahar made the necessary changes, and got a submission request from his Professor for the Student Emmys Award. May 2018, the news visits him that Kya Dekh Raha Hai? is nominated! And no wonder, the award went to Manahar Kumar! 

Credits: Vimeo Manahar Kumar

Achievements and Beyond

During his time at SCAD, he also acted in pilots, thesis films, for SCAD and Columbia University, New York. In 2019, he created a successful crowdfunding campaign for his thesis film — Stardust. He was 1 of 10 finalists selected for the Film Impact Georgia Grant. His latest short documentary, ‘Badlaav Republic’ (Change Republic), currently in the festival circuit, won the “Best International Film” award at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival and “Best Documentary Award” at the Georgia Documentary Film Festival.

As a graduate student at SCAD, he also won the “Most likely to be a renowned actor” Ambassador’s Choice Award and was the lead in SCAD Atlanta’s Pilot Production – What Remains of Emily for which he won the, “Best Actor Award”. Speaking of What Remains of Emily, as Manahar Kumar says, the hours dedicated to writing, reading and observing, moulded in him a meditative cinematic transference, which led to this movie. 

Credits: Vimeo Manahar Kumar

Message for Aspiring Actors and Filmmakers

Manahar mentions this very beautiful, yet often ignored aspect of our lives, that the storytelling gene is ingrained in all of us, be it doctors or actors, and has been in us since from when we began cave painting. Sometimes, something as simple as a walk with nature can also be enlightening. 

Somewhere between acting in high school and balancing studies, he found the value of acting in his life. “It became synonymous with breathing”, Manahar says. Experiences, successes and failures make us grow as a person. During his masters, he let go of the film-goer hat and replaced it with the filmmaker hat. Courageously, Manahar decided to pursue his love for cinema on the front foot, simultaneously with acting on the back foot. He accomplished all, in his words, “with aggressive execution yet a calm gaze”.

Manahar realised the value of deep rest; and now perceived career as a marathon and not a sprint. He sincerely hopes that he’d be able to mentor filmmakers and artists of the coming generations. 

As a message to the aspiring artists, Manahar Kumar asks them, that irrespective of the talent being innate or acquired through hard work, your voice and intention must be clear and distinct, find the stories you would want to put in the vessel, and how deep you’re willing to go.

Further he adds, “Be dispassionate. Invest in deep rest. Allow your consciousness to run wild and solve puzzles surpassing time and memories. If Newton or Archimedes won’t have taken breaks, we won’t be studying their equations. No matter what demons you might’ve faced in the past or your aspirations for the future, the true gift of life lies in the present. As human beings, we have a habit of seeking patterns, be it in nature, people or habits, yet what is still hard for us to fathom is the subtle yet courageous act of letting go. With childish curiosity, we can delve deeper and restfully walk towards our vision and with relentless optimism when we truly begin to play and not ‘work’, you’re consciously here and now, that is when miracles flow. Just…keep breathing. Life is always on your side. You got this.” 

You can view all his work and projects here.

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Interviews

Showing a Different Mirror of Art: Singer and Actor Sudheer Rikhari

Actor and Singer Sudheer Rikhari presents a new perspective of the seamless sphere of art through his passion and truthfulness for his work.

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Sudheer Rikhari

Sudheer Rikhari is a singer and an actor. Brought up in Uttarakhand, Sudheer was surrounded by singing, music, speeches, and art throughout his school life. “I always wanted to sing”, Sudheer said during the interview. Even though the school’s culture naturally inclined him towards art, his small town couldn’t give him the exposure that he needed. Moving to Delhi, for his graduation and MA was just the beginning of his dreams. As he said, “Theatre was in my destiny and I happened to walk on that path.” 

The Beginning 

Sudheer’s college provided him the platform for theatre and acting. He narrated one of his memories from college theatre. He initially stepped into theatres as a singer. During one of his rehearsals, the director scolded the group for not performing with full enthusiasm, and asked the senior actors to play the roles in the correct way for the new ones to watch and learn. He asked the new ones to sit. Sudheer was amongst the new ones, and he headed to sit amongst them. The director however called out Sudheer and asked him to remain wherever he was since he was performing his part perfectly. The appreciation in such a small act meant a lot to him.

Since then, art has been an unlimited means of expression for him. Sudheer did not face any major opposition from his family. His male privilege was also one factor. He said that this privilege protected him from questions of ‘whys’ and ‘hows’, and that’s how he continued on the journey.

The Journey

Sudheer’s perspective towards art is very beautiful and distinct. It is through these lenses and steps that he has been continuing his journey. Sudheer’s enthusiasm for art is fuelled by his thirst for exploring his inner self. He is on the quest of getting the answers to all his questions and art happens to be the easiest medium through which he travels inside. On unmotivated days, he is reminded of the significance of art as a tool for personal growth. The socio-political scenarios of the world bring unrest in our daily and personal lives. For Sudheer, art becomes a weighty tool through which we can make himself truthful and righteous in this era of malice and hopelessness. 

He isn’t just inspired by Actors, but also the characters. Sometimes the actor gels so invariably with the character that it becomes a moment of the truest art. Therefore, while acting as well, Sudheer captures the essence of the character through its breadth. According to him, playing a character isn’t a mask that he wears, but is an act of exploring himself during the moments of acting. He searches for the truth and incorporates it in his acting, to bring the character in its rawest form.  

Sudheer has worked in many plays. One of his most memorable plays has been ‘Waiting for Godot’. The play was performed almost 15 years back, but to this day the characters and the dialogues still have an impact on him. The play ‘Kabir Khadha Bazaar Me’ also taught him a lot. Kabir, a revolutionary, brought truths to life and called out on vile acts, but with no hatred. This affected Sudheer deeply and so performing in the play became a life-changing experience for him. The intensity of these art forces is truly mesmerizing!

Message for Aspiring Artists

According to Sudheer, an artists’ life cannot be a struggle since they wake up every day to work on what they love the most. As an artist, Sudheer’s enjoyment and dedication for his work is his topmost priority, against which he doesn’t focus on anything. Although he did a few theatre related jobs but the jobs’ obligatory nature didn’t suit him.

So, for aspiring artists, Sudheer has two messages. The first one is to be truthful to one’s passion. Talent, skill, technique, all of it is secondary. In Sudheer’s words, “Talent gives us the platform but the dedication and courage to jump on that platform is in our hands”. Therefore, one should persistently, without dishonesty should work for their passion. The number of the audience should not affect us. Sudheer further says that art cannot be equated to a career. An artist is never free of work. There can never be enough stories, music, poetries, paintings. An artist is always in the pursuit of producing more with their minds brimmed with new ideas and thoughts. Therefore, all aspiring artists should be aware of this aim at all times.

Secondly, passion for art should always be on the foundation of truthfulness. Money and fame is only a byproduct of art. The heart should always be on the work. Like a river which creates its own course through its raw natural energy, with no mapping, similarly, if one is truthful to their work, they’ll find the right path too.

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Interviews

A Masterclass of Theatre from the Alleyways of NSD: Kuldeep Singh

Actor and teacher at National School of Drama, Kuldeep Singh continues his theatre journey and learning more

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Kuldeep Singh

Augusto Boal had rightly said, “We must all do theatre, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.” It is not just the craft that theatre teaches, but also some important life lessons. This was one of the key takeaways in our candid conversation with Kuldeep Singh, an actor and teacher at the National School of Drama.

Early Years

Born and raised on the road, Kuldeep Singh shares his life stories very candidly. Though he was born in Kanpur, with his father in the Indian Air Force, they were constantly moving all around the country. This gave him invaluable experience of living and meeting different people from all over India. Travelling has its upsides, but he felt that he lost friends along the road. Talking about his schooling, he recalls being in Kendriya Vidyalaya and having the best time of his life. He felt supported and comfortable in that environment. 

At a very early age, he was interested in music. He keenly recalls Pankaj Udas and his songs. When he started his academic career, Kuldeep Singh realized that he needed some creative relief. He realized that performing is his calling while playing the role of a soldier in a school play, “Murshidabad ka Nawab”. He got promoted to the front role due to his punctuality and his memorisation skills. Starting acting in the fifth grade, he understood his love for acting after winning a bhangra dance competition. After successfully putting up a play “Nasha” within 10 days, he continuously did plays in school and kept winning awards for them.

Passion for Theatre

When asked about his inspiration for pursuing acting as a career, Singh credits himself for pursuing his passion. He enjoyed and understood his passion in his school years and stuck to it. Having a grad degree in arts, he took a strong decision to do a master’s in theatre from Punjab University.

His key motivation is the reactions to his performances, from their smiles to the bliss in their eyes. It has also given him a different perspective in life and the ability to tackle all situations. Sharing an anecdote of this problem-solving behaviour, he remembers making an angry shopkeeper laugh after bargaining by promising to buy his stock no matter what.

He believes that every project begins with a struggle since he tries new experiences every time. He stresses that one should only make decisions that one can carry through life. What drives him forward is the experiencing of new thoughts. He realized that his passion lies in helping others move forward. Through his work at the National School of Drama, he could help others in finding their path.

He strongly believes in standing for what is correct no matter what. The purpose of his workshops is for the person to understand his potential in life. He quotes Albert Einstein, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales”.

Words of wisdom for the Aspiring Actors!

Singh’s message to aspiring actors is to not look for shortcuts in life. He pushes them to understand the basic foundations of acting, instead of just relying on their looks and spending their parents’ hard-earned money. The audience has changed their mindset and taste through the years. He believes this has increased all sorts of opportunities for aspiring artists.

When asked about his projects he feels that he has fallen in love with every project that he has done and enjoyed his time with his team. The plays that he has done like “Aazar Ka Khwab” and “Kitabon Me Hulchul” have been invited abroad and appreciated amongst the audiences alike. He is working on biographies these days on personalities like Alexander Graham Bell, Munshi Prem Chand, Shakespeare and others.

He believes that one can achieve anything one wants to. The only thing needed is that one stays a student for life. Based on this principle, he feels that he is still learning along the road. The words of his teacher that, you should not believe you know everything about everything, has helped him in keeping his spirit for learning. He stresses the fact that every person should have an artistic release. Hence, he strongly believes that theatre should be a must in schools for artistic release.

Along with helping him pursue his passion, the theatre has helped Singh in developing a different outlook on life and people. He believes that the world will be more beautiful if everyone becomes artistic. Let’s hope that his dream becomes a reality.

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Interviews

Wishing Upon Shampoo Bottles And Mirrors: Tanya Singh

The incredibly talented Tanya Singh takes us through her journey in acting, the idea of being relatable and acting in bathrooms.

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Tanya Singh

There is a lot to her body of work that is punctuated by her own approach to life. From choosing scripts, that have a lot more than meets the eye, to delivering wonderfully nuanced performances, Tanya Singh has, in every project she has worked on, left an indelible mark. An incredibly gifted actor, she has the ability to not only seamlessly flow into the mind of the character that she is playing, but also the exceptional gift for making the audience feel every whispered word that her character utters. Through our conversation, it becomes apparent that this, truly, is what she is meant to do.

Raised amid the warm summers of Kanpur, Singh has a very emotional bond with the city she spent her earliest years in. The manner in which she describes her childhood, surrounded by her closest friends and family, paints the picture of an individual who not only cherishes the thought of home but also holds a certain reverence for it. As a matter of fact, she recalls how, as a child, they would, often, take road trips to her maternal grandmother’s house. Incidentally, the 1973 film, ‘Garm Hava’, was shot in Singh’s grandmother’s residence.

As a child, Singh always felt drawn to theatrics, hilariously recalling how she would spend time lost in her own imagination, doing hair flips in front of a mirror. Coming from a family that placed an emphasis on education, Singh’s father, a doctor, always encouraged her to take her education seriously. And, while she did clear her entrance exams, there was always this other side of her that was drawn to the world of dramatics. What bolstered her fascination with this world was the fact that her maternal side of the family also had this same passion for the art of acting.

Credits: YouTube Hasley India

Initially stepping into the industry through modelling, Singh touches on how she actually got into acting. In point of fact, she recalls her first audition. Back in 2016, a friend of hers, former creative director at TVF, contacted her about a role on the eve of an audition. The part, in question, was for a mini web-series. Landing the role, Singh was, at the outset, a little hesitant about her own inexperience with acting. As she, herself, states, ‘Up until then, I had just been acting in bathrooms’. Her hesitation was unfounded, however, as she received the guidance she needed from the creative team for the web-series. Looking back, she counts that whole experience as the single bravest step she has taken in her journey. Fraught with her own uncertainty and a general sense of apprehensiveness about whether she was up to the task, Singh, in fact, persevered and sailed through it, and, quite wonderfully so.

If you look at some of the work she has done, you see an artist who has a distinct sense of what movies and shows should be able to touch upon. Commenting on her short film, ‘Chhodh Pakad’, Singh explores how films that depict tiny slices of life have a very special place. Scripts that allow for someone to relate to what is actually on screen evoke a certain sense of emotional attachment from the audience. And, as she says, roles such as these are something that she gravitates towards. 

Credit: YouTube (Natak Pictures)

Speaking of roles and performances, when asked about what her perfect role would be like, Singh remarks on wanting to play a strong female character, someone who has an untethered sense of identity and is, possibly, engaged in her own political power play. This doesn’t come as a surprise. Singh, having grown up around strong, independent women, has always had an idea of what it truly means to be someone you look up to. You only need to hear the way she lovingly describes her mother and grandmother to understand this.

Exploring the changing nature of the industry and the way content is being consumed, Singh dives into how there will always be a balance between the bigger budget feature films and the smaller independent films. Even back in the day, there was the space for more independent films to succeed. The successes of movies such as ‘Bheja Fry’ and ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ provided such a strong foundational base for how the subject matter of films is being chosen today. Today, content, really, is king. Now, as she goes on to explain, the idea of being able to relate and the untethered manner in which content is being distributed through multiple platforms provides such a massive scope for all genres of films and shows to flourish and reach their intended audiences.

Singh has had a remarkable beginning to her career. Indeed, as she talks about her first short film, ‘Unarranged’, she recalls the massively positive reaction that it garnered. ‘Unarranged’ came at a time when the idea of social networking and the impact of online circulation for content was beginning to gain traction. In just a week of it’s release, ‘Unarranged’ had racked up over eight lakh views. That whole experience made her realise that this was something that she had a legitimate shot at. If she went on to prove herself a little more, things would fall in place. And, that is exactly what happened.

Credit: YouTube (Natak Pictures)

Even so, Singh asserts that she had never envisioned that she would be taking up acting as a profession. She imagined her life would be completely different, with her taking up a more conventional job and pursuing a career that she studied for. What is actually pretty wild is the fact that she was actually meant to take up a position at a company she had been hired by, just days before her first audition. She chose to carve out her own path and that has made all the difference.

“That was the decision I had to make, do I want to step into acting or do I lead a normal corporate life.”

Tanya Singh

Commenting on how accessible everything is these days, Singh states that it has become a lot easier for someone to chase something they are passionate about. With the availability of so many platforms, it is crucial to start exploring and putting your work out there so that others can see it.  The one caveat that she stresses on, however, is the need to finish your education. That, she says, takes a backseat for some when they set out to pursue something that they are passionate about. That may prove detrimental in the long run. Coming from a background that has stressed the importance of education in her life, Singh is grateful and counts herself fortunate that she chose to finish her education before she set out on her journey to pursue acting. And, from the looks of it, Tanya Singh’s journey ahead is shaping up to be a beautiful one.

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