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Ratan Thiyam bags Lifetime Award, Mein Huun Yusuf aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai bags four awards at annual Theatre Awards

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NEW DELHI: National School of Drama Chairman Ratan Thiyam was conferred the lifetime achievement award at the 11th Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) last night.

The annual awards, which recognize excellence in theatre nationally, celebrate the intrinsic diversity and rich cultural traditions of India.

META is India’s most comprehensive award and a premier honour for the theatre fraternity, awarding on-stage and off-stage talent across 14 award categories including the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The glittering award night saw the presence of Kalki Koechlin, Shabana Azmi, Lillete Dubey, Ira Dubey and performance by Niazi Nizami Brothers, Shabnam Virmani and Goura Prema. The META Awards Night was hosted by Kabir Bedi and Shivani Wazir

Mein Huun Yusuf aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai stole the limelight, bagging four awards (Best Direction, Best Production, Best Light Design, Best Sound/Music Design) and a Jury Special Mention for Best Actor in a Lead role (Male).

Noted theatre guru and Padma Shri recipient Ratan Thiyam receive his award from Shabana Azmi. The Lifetime Achievement Award carries with a prize money of Rs. 5 lakh.

Thiyam said, “I feel deeply honoured by this prestigious award. It’s a kind of gesture of encouragement for us who are working in the field of theatre. I am happy.”

The 2016 META Jury comprised author Kunal Basu, actor Kusum Haider, director and theatre and film actor M.K. Raina, dancer- choreographer Tanushree Shankar, and actor-director Sushma Seth.

Plays in diverse Indian Languages shone at the META Awards Nights this year with Shantanu Ghosh and Dyuti Ghosh of the Bengali play Haoai – The Eleventh Planet bagging the META for Best Actor in Supporting Role – Male & Female respectively for their portrayals of the shy Polu and the excitable Mrinmoyee.

The Best Original Script was won by Kannada play Akshayambhara with its unique amalgamation of modern theatrical tools and the traditional Yakshagana dance theatre creating a contemporary narrative raising questions on female representation and male ownership. Prasad Cherkady, who plays a male actor in streevesha as Draupadi inAkshayambhara, won the Best Actor in Lead Role (Male).

Sayalee Phatak won the Best Actor in Lead role (Female) for her depiction of the aggressive but troubled Mitra in search for her sexual identity in the play A Friend’s Story, an English adaptation of Vijay Tendulkar’s brilliant Marathi drama, Mitrachi Goshta.

Malayalam play The Balcony was awarded the Best Costume Design for the authenticity of the costumes which transported the audience into the world of the production and Tamil play Kuhaimaravasigal bagged the Best Choreography Award for the rustic quality of the movements which were well in tune with the symbolism depicted all through the play.

A unique stage adaptation of the 1920’s German silent horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - set inside a rundown warehouse space featuring distinctive on-stage elements - won Best Stage Design.

The Best Ensemble was presented to 07/07/07 based on the legal battle to save Reyhaneh Jabbari from the gallows.

A spate of performances celebrated theatre’s big night and enthralled the audence including Qawalli by the Niazi Nizami Brothers, Shabnam Virmani’s spiritual musical journey through an exploration of Kabir’s poetry, a contemporary meets classical dance performance by Goura Prema and the Natya Nectar Dance Company and award-winning actress Kalki Koechlin’s chilling rendition of her poem The Printing Machine.

Jay Shah, Head of Cultural Outreach, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd., said, “Every passing year of META strengthens our commitment to theatre. Seeing the astonishing levels of talent in our country and playing a role in bringing this to the nation's notice fills the Mahindra Group with immense pride and satisfaction. This year was no different - it deepened our admiration for both theatre folks and audience.”

Over the past few days, theatre enthusiasts in the capital were treated with a feast of 10 nominated productions from across the country, which were showcased on the META stage this year. The bevy of topics included contemporary interpretations of mythological texts, prostitution, molestation, false executions, human-like obsession, jealousy, betrayal and search for redemption.

Commenting on META 2016 Teamwork Arts MD and Producer META Sanjoy Roysaid, “With every passing year META has witnessed trend-setting plays which have reflected the diversity of India and shone a light on the many issues that continue to challenge the world in these times.” 

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