Six short plays: Successful Natya Darpan festival tackles tough subjects

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Still from short play Kanhaiya, one of the 6 plays staged at Natya Darpan festival hosted by Indian Heritage and Cultural Association-NJ, October 15, 2022. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ

Keeping with tradition, it was a full house at the 6th Annual Natya Darpan 2022 theater festival held October 15, at the Middlesex County College in Edison.

Dr. Ashok Chaudhary, founder of Natya Darpan, addressing the crowd and thanking special guests Nitin Ashtekar, Manda Gorsegner, Dr Varun Jeph, Dr Sudhir Parikh, Nutan Dabholkar Kalamdani, Ajay Patil, Dr Anand Kulkarni at Natya Darpan short plays festival Oct. 15, 2022, in New Jersey, hosted by the Indian Heritage and Cultural Association-NJ. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ

Hosted by the Indian Heritage and Cultural Association of New Jersey, each of the plays at the sold-out event dealt with a range of difficult social issues that IHCA-NJ has built a reputation for tackling over the last five years.

Still from The Gruesome Injuries staged at Natya Darpan short play festival, Oct. 15, 2022, an event organized by IHCA-NJ in Edison. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ

From mental health, climate change, international wars, human trafficking, LGBTQ+ or volatile supreme court decisions, IHCA-NJ has not shied away from tough issues that impact society as a whole including the Indian-American community. And it confronted those issues this year as well.

Still from Bhint, staged at Natya Darpan short play festival, Oct. 15, 2022, event organized by IHCA-NJ in Edison. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ
Still from The Marriage Proposal, a short play staged at Natya Darpan short play festival, Oct. 15, 2022, at event organized by IHCA-NJ in Edison. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ
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The six plays staged in 6 hours by local award-winning actors and diverse groups from various cities in the nation, included ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ (English) written by Rajiv Joseph and directed by Dr. Farley Richmond; ‘Bhinta’ (Marathi) written by Satish Alekar and directed by Parag Walimbe; ‘The Marriage Proposal’ (English) written by Anton Chekhov and directed by Swachata Sanjiban Guha; ‘Apne Hi Putale’ (Hindi) written by Yogesh Tripathi and directed by Ameeya Mehta; ‘Kanhaiya’ (Hindi) written by Priyam Jani and directed by Meera Narasimhan; and ‘Alpaviram’ (Marathi) written by Irfan Mujawar and directed by Ashutosh Hadap.

Still from Apne Hi Putale, a short play staged at Natya Darpan short play festival, Oct. 15, 2022, at event organized by IHCA-NJ in Edison. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ
Still from Alpaviram, a short play staged at Natya Darpan short play festival, Oct. 15, 2022, at event organized by IHCA-NJ in Edison. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ

Founder of IHCA Dr. Ashok Chaudhar,y welcomed the guests and the dignitaries present. He also thanked his executive team and all the sponsors.

Edison Councilman Ajay Patil, Dr Sudhir Parikh, chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, Deputy Consul General in New York Dr Varun Jeph, and Dr. Sudha Parikh at the Oct. 15, 2022, annual festival of short plays organized by the Indian Heritage and Cultural Association of New Jersey, held in Edison, N.J. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ

A lamp lighting ceremony was performed in the presence of dignitaries, including Grants Administration Manager at the Arts Institute of Middlesex County Manda Gorsegner; Edison Councilman Ajay Patil; Dr. Sudhir Parikh of Parikh worldwide Media; and Deputy Consul General of India in New York Dr Varun Jeph.

Natya Darpan team poses for a photo at the Oct. 15, 2022, annual festival of short plays, an event organized by the Indian Heritage and Cultural Association-NJ, held in Edison, N.J. Photo: Cineviews, courtesy IHCA-NJ

Both Gorsegner and Dr Jeph expressed their appreciation for the entire festival and promised their continued support in the future.

Natya Darpan has been growing expanding and progressing, the press release said. Guided by a dedicated team of executive directors, advisors, a selection committee and volunteers who “make this herculean task seem very easy,” organizers said.

The festival is supported by a grant and guidance every year over the last 6 years, from the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners. The Consulate General of India in New York also contributes to the festival and has been co-hosting the festival since the last 5 years. This year the Consulate included Natya Darpan as a part of the year-long celebrations of India’s 75th independence day, Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

Apart from the above contributors, there have been a few individual sponsors who have been patrons to the festival along with several media sponsors namely Dr. Sudhir Parikh’s  ITV Gold and Parikh Worldwide Media, Radio Zindagi, The Indian Eye, Divya Bhaskar, Mana TV International, Masala Junction and Cineviews Media.

Audience reaction was very positive, according to the press release. As hundreds of people left the theater impressed by the plays, some also commented on their experience to Dr. Chaudhary, the press release said.

One of the messages said, “Dr. Ashok Chaudhary has put together an excellent team for Natya Darpan. Not only does this give an excellent opportunity for local American artists to showcase their talent, but it also gives New Jersey audience a chance to see quality theater in different languages at an affordable price.”

Another commented, “The program was executed very well, and every performance was excellent and thought provoking. Thoroughly enjoyed it”.

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