These days Natak or Nautanki has acquired political overtones and negative connotation but in Bharatiya tradition it always had a constructive socio-cultural meaning. UDAAN was an attempt to reignite that tradition
The recent mega Nukkad Natak Competition, the first of its kind in the world organised by UDAAN in the Faculty of Arts, University of Delhi has already scripted a success story by providing opportunity to 975 artists on stage, efficiently utilising the power of more than 200 dedicated volunteers to handle the organisational part along with the core team and creating excitement which saw a huge number of audience
thronging the venue to witness this unprecedented event. It was a grand nationalist occurrence which
established many standards of
opportunities, meticulous planning and systematic implementation.
42 teams mainly from different Colleges of the Universities of Delhi and NCR participated in this mega competition held on September 20-22 at University of Delhi. The event witnessed a footfall of thousands of audience on each day, including the gigantic prize distribution ceremony which had the excitement and magnificence of any cine awards evening. The Team Prizes (First, Second and Third consisting of Rs. 51,000/, 31,000 and 21,000/) were deservedly won by Shiva Ji College, Hansraj College and Vivekanand College respectively. Additionally, there were 10 prizes each in six categories – actor (male), actor (female), music, script, direction and production. Around 200 participants were selected for a 4-day long jumbo workshop of theatre organised to interact with experts of theatre and understand its nuances at National School of Drama on September 26-29, 2016 which had exclusive sessions by Nitish Bhardwaj of Krishna fame from the mega serial Mahabharata; Sandip Marvah from Marvah Studio; Dr. Chander Prakash Dwivedi, Sudipto Sen, Advaita Kala, Manoj Tiwari, Sonal Man Singh among others. The workshop also had special sessions by Dr Krishan Gopal, Shri Nandkumar and Shri Bharat Bhushan of RSS. At the end of the workshop the exuberant participants impromptu and in enthusiasm shouted slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Vande Matram.
The event also offered an opportunity to engage and interact with some world-acclaimed names from Bollywood and theatre who became an active part of this mega initiative. The plays performed during the event
witnessed a variety of themes like—Kashmir Ki Kahani Hai, Kuchh Jani Pehchani Hai focusing on the problem of extremism in Kashmir; the struggles of soldiers surviving in temperatures of -50 degree and at an altitude of 20,000 ft.; to stop riots and spread humanity in society; the menace of female foeticide; prevalent corruption in different
professions, especially medical
profession; the problem of domestic workers, low wages and their working conditions; conservation of cultural
values; Issue of Kashmiri Pandits; dream of corruption, drugs and
ill-practices free India; the problem of the indigenous arts and artists in the age of Internet and social media; the cultural richness of India; the menace of the flooding of Indian markets with Chinese goods; feasibility of solutions to all ills, including the naxalism; the problems of relationship between children and
parents in the changing circumstances; the politics of media and politicians, and many more.
UDAAN had made it clear in the Rules and Regulations of the
competition that the participating teams must not take topics which “hurt
anyone’s religious, caste or personal feelings” and the themes “highlighting a social cause, issues of national interest and patriotism will be given weightage.” Keeping the nationalistic spirit, even the symbol of Swami Vivekanada and Ashok Chakra were used in various backdrops and certificates.
The special jury consisting of Dr CP Dwivedi, Sudipto Sen and Advaita Kala was all appreciation for the creative, inspiring fresh ideas on various social, cultural and national issues depicted through the plays. In the words of Dr Dwivedi, “The young students were brimming with ideas and a strong desire for change. Some plays examined our existing notions from different perspectives and challenged the pre-conceived ideas.” He expressed his belief that “some of the participants will take the mission of social awakening forward.”
The grand competition poured bundles of opportunities for the participants other than the above prizes which are capable enough to decide course of their future life. Shivani Sharma of Vivekanand College, Kamal Kishor of Hindu College and Utkarsh of Shiva Ji College were selected to work as Assistant Directors of a sensitive filmmaker Sudipto Sen in his next film. Diksha Raina from Vivekanad College and Aayushi Gupta from Shyam Lal College have been chosen to get a fully sponsored training at Anupam Kher Academy along with free boarding and lodging facility. The famous Marvah Studio, Noida announced to provide free grooming session to all the participating 42 teams. The world acclaimed danseur Sonal Man Singh declared to hold a two- day workshop on December 14-15 for selected participants. The top 10 teams of the competition also got an opportunity to be the official publicity teams of the prestigious Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav to be organised at the sprawling Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts in Delhi in October and then in Varanasi in November. Selected participants of the competition will be given a chance to perform in a film by Manoj Tiwari, the famous singer and producer. Sudipto Sen also announced to form a team of 30 artists from amongst the participants to perform Nukkad Nataks in different parts of the country beginning from Kashmir to Kocchi.
Ayushi Gupta who got selected for free training at Anupam Kher Academy, excitedly opened up her heart about the opportunity provided by UDAAN Utsav, “It is a wonderful experience as I being an introvert, got a chance to explore myself and express my feelings through acting. UDAAN has provided me a platform to showcase my talent and it will prove a stepping stone for my future prospects.” The other selected participant for Anupam Kher’s Academy, Diksha Raina also lauded UDAAN for opening door of opportunities for budding artists, “It was a great experience and immense pleasure to be a part of UDAAN. We got such a huge platform to perform and opportunity to interact with great personalities.”
As the name indicates the purpose of UDAAN (Unfolding Drama and Acts to Awaken Nation) has been to utilise
performing arts, especially Nukkad Natak to generate positivity and belongingness in youth towards our society and nation. It is an attempt to ustilise the enormous youthful energy and the power of street play and channelise this combo of magnanimous dynamism into the service of nation. UDAAN has proved that the exuberance and vigour of youth can be artistically and effectively utilised through a shared enterprise called NUKKAD. UDAAN certainly promises to provide a self-sustainable model of filling the huge vacuum of cultural bankruptcy by encompassing the cultural space on campuses with the pious motive of Youth for Sewa and ‘sa kala ya vimuktye’.
(The writer teaches English at Ram Lal Anand College, University of Delhi and is associated with UDAAN since its inception)