Group: Netaji Subhas University of Technology

Written and directed collectively


Thiru Nangai

Group: Hansraj College

Director: Deepanshu Baghel, Nipun Khatri

Dramatist: Chakresh Kumar

Source: Mahendra Bhishma


Atelier’s Campus Theatre festival notches up its 12th season, and visited Kolkata again last weekend with its curation of the best of Delhi’s college productions. How we wish that someone in our city copied Atelier’s praiseworthy concept so as to showcase student theatre here, normally restricted to the inter-college festival circuit, for the general public. With exposure to wider viewership, students get a chance to test their work in front of regular audiences and consequently improve their standards. The local hosts could involve active dramatic societies as well to encourage peer presence and interaction with ACT. How we also wish that kindly sponsors help ACT to give the movement regional participation!


Both the teams that came here, playing in Hindi, spotlighted disadvantaged communities, proof of a much higher commitment than average collegiate theatre. The Netaji Subhas University of Technology staged Muktibodh, about Doms in the ghats of Varanasi, for which the writer-director collective of Akshat Girdhar, Harsh Vardhan and Mudit Khandelwal went to Varanasi themselves to observe the conditions. This research had a definite impact on the quality of performance – the parents (Ishan Bhardwaj and Sanchi Bhalla), the son (Dwal Rajora) and the policeman (Ankit Dabas) all attaining superior levels of acting and command of the dialect. The authors foregrounded the father’s belief in the service Doms provide by giving mukti to all regardless of caste, juxtaposed with the mother and teenage son’s aspiration for the latter’s social upliftment through education. The directors (including a fourth member, Chayan Bhatia) even got a credible pyre going with simple bamboo sticks and red lighting.


Hansraj College presented Chakresh Kumar’s Thiru Nangai, itself dramatized from Mahendra Bhishma’s novel about the third gender, Kinnar Katha. Nipun Khatri’s 45-minute compression of Chakresh’s already condensed 70-minute script focused more on two Hijra groups in conflict than the fate of the baby delivered into their hands, Khatri’s forcibly reductive approach to the twin plot making it lose both depth and development. The production seemed like a chop-chop film scenario without the subtle segues found in cine editing. Deepanshu Baghel and Khatri directed the cast (who commendably embraced women) in creating the transgender impersonations competently, but a few of the men fussed too much over their saris, sometimes ending up by draping them worse than they started off with.


(From The Times of India, 20 March 2020)

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