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Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre," said Gail Godwin, author of The Odd Woman. It must have been why a group of teachers of Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya and Maharashtriya Kalopasak were drawn to the art form 49 years ago and were inspired to start an inter-college one-act play competition called Purushottam Karandak. Known to be a breeding ground for experimental playwrights and budding actors, the Karandak has discovered several artistes such as Mrunal Kulkarni, Prasad Oak, Subodh Bhave, Salil Kulkarni and Kaushal Inamdar.
"This year we are expecting more polished performances in the competition. It has always been cut-throat and it will be no different this year," says Hemant Vaidya, secretary of Maharashtriya Kalopasak. He says that they have received 70 applications for this year, of which 51 college teams will battle it out in the preliminary rounds, commencing on August 12. "Many factors are taken into account during the selection process — the script, presentation and storyline," says Rajendra Thakur Desai, co-secretary of Maharashtriya Kalopasak. Only nine plays reach the finals, planned for August 31 and September 1. Desai adds that the mega finals, in which winning teams from Jalgaon, Kolhapur, Ratnagiri, Mumbai and Nagpur compete with Pune's winner, will be held in December.
In the middle of building their teams, working out scripts, finding sponsors and managing capital, the dramatics societies of colleges in the city share that the festival is serious business. Last year's winning team from Sir Parshurambhau College, which staged Pranimatra, a play based on the perceptions inferred by wildlife on the world of humans, claim that this year's execution will not revolve around a social issue. "We will produce something totally out of the box," says Kshitish Date, who will direct the play this year. With the script already in place, Date claims that it will be "provocative and technical elements will be incorporated only if the content demands it." He also feels that last year's victory has infused a stronger sense of responsibility in the cultural group.