META AWARDS Gala Night in India

META AWARDS Gala Night in India

It was a glittering night full of creative dialogues and of course theatrics! The red carpet was rolled and the spotlight was on. But this time, it was not another Bollywood award show in India that was having its moment. Instead the celebration was reserved for some of the finest from the Indian theatre scene.

The 12th edition of the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards Festival (META) concluded with an awards night on March 10, at the ritzy, Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. The well-attended awards night was a perfect conclusion to a week long fiesta that showed some of the select shortlisted plays in various Indian languages that were running in nominations for the much coveted theater awards.

The META is considered one of the most prominent and esteemed awards amongst the theatre fraternity in India. Awarded across 14 comprehensive categories including both on-stage and off-stage contributions, the award also recognizes the continued contribution from stalwarts to the theatre scene in India by awarding a lifetime achievement award.

The 2017 edition of awards was judged by eminent theatre personalities in India comprising Dolly Thakore, Sachin Khedekar, Seema Biswas, Mahesh Dattani, Avijit Dutt and Maya Krishna.

Keeping in the tradition of showing the spirit of diversity in India, a land of 22 different official languages, the best of the 10 plays selected from over 300 nominations from across the country included plays in languages such as Hindi, English, Malyalam, Kannada and Rajasthani. The entries came both from big cities like Delhi and Mumbai to small cities such as Kota to cultural centers such as Kolkata and Kochi. The subjects of the play covered an entire canvas ranging from mythology, conflicts of modern times, tackling societal norms and human emotions.

One of the frontrunners during nominations, the play Mahabharata, went on to win in three categories including best director, best choreography and best production. Mahabharata, the play inspired by the Hindu epic in ancient India depicting an elaborate war between the feuding members of a family, used the narrative to question the significance of war and the fraught human emotions that lead to this destruction. Another favorite, I Don't Like It, As you Like it, won the best ensemble, best stage design and best female actor in supporting role. The play brings Shakespeare home to India and projects the conflicts through a group of clowns who have been battling personal and financial breakdowns while eventually finding their real selves. Another play titled, Elephant in the Room also bagged three prizes including the one for best actor (female), best costume and best light design. Elephant in the Room, precariously balances the genius task of bringing mythology to tell an eccentric make-believe story. Inspired by the elephant god, Ganpati, it is a tale of a young boy with an elephant's tusk for a head that finds him lost in a jungle where an imminent danger greets him at every step. There were two recipients for the best actor award (male), which was given to Anirban Bhattacharya for Awddyo Shesh Rajani , a play that deals with ideas such as artistic insecurities and extra marital relations and to Rajendra Panchal for Katha Sukavi SuryaMall Ki, a play depicting the life and times of a poet from one of the princely states in India.

Veteran theatre personality Arun Kakade was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr Kakade overwhelmed by the honor graciously remarked that at the age of 86 he wasn't really expecting an award. The honor was well deserved for the contributions he has made in the field of theatre in India.

The award night reached its crescendo with musical and dance performances as some of the best known faces from the arts and theatre segment in India raised a happy toast to the thriving theatre scene in the country.

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From This Author Zofeen Maqsood

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