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The annual Prithvi Festival returns after two years to celebrate the city's theatre.
For the last two years, there seemed to be a big hole in Mumbai's cultural calendar, with Prithvi Festival not featuring in it. This year, however, the festival is back with 41 performances of 29 productions, showcasing plays that were performed at this culture hub in suburban Juhu over the last few years. After the festival's last edition that celebrated the theatre traditions of India, this year the focus is back on the theatrewallahs of Mumbai. The two-week event begins on Saturday, with Ratna Pathak Shah-directed A Walk in the Woods, featuring Naseeruddin Shah and Rajit Kapur.
"The focus of this festival is our theatre fraternity at Prithvi, including performers as well as audiences who have been actively involved in the theatre's activities for the last two years. We are celebrating them and Prithvi Theatre with plays, music, children's shows, screenings and platform performances,"says Kunal Kapoor, director of Prithvi Theatre, who has been working with the festival team for the last three months to put this event together.
The festival will see some of the most talked-about recent plays share the limelight with Mumbai's popular and long-running productions. Purva Naresh's Aaj Rang Hai and Ok Tata Bye Bye, Nadira Babbar's Begum Jaan, Manish Gandhi's Cock, Kaifi Aur Main by Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, and MS Sathyu's Moteram are some of the hand-picked plays. Among the relatively newer productions are, Hard Places and Nandita Das' Between the Lines. Makarand Deshpande has revived his popular play Sir Sir Sarla, in which Aahana Kumra replaces Sonali Kulkarni as the central character. There are several children's plays on the festival schedule, such as Zinga Zinga Roses, Bed Ke Neeche Rehnewali, In The Cat House and Kyun Kyun Ladki.
An added feature to the festival will be the carnival. In the absence of a full-fledged festival, Prithvi Theatre has been hosting a carnival for the last two years. The encouraging response to it has made festival organisers choose a day-long carnival as a fitting end to it. "When we did the carnival for the first time, I had thought this was the ideal way to close a festival of any kind," says Kapoor. As part of this, a number of performers, such as Alyque Padamsee, Purva Naresh, Gopal Dutt, Danish Hussain, Mehmood Farooqi, Darshan Jariwala, Naseeruddin Shah, Ila Arun and KK Raina, will present their pieces from various plays to make an impressive collage of theatre.
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