Long Live Theatre

by Anisha Suvarna

Mumbai lead a fast-paced life with very little time for other activities. It is one of the most liberal and cosmopolitan cities of India that embraces many concepts that would be a taboo in other cities. Apart from cinema that is very prevalent in Mumbai, this city hosts various plays and cultural performances. Some of the more prominent theatres are Prithvi Theatre at Juhu, Dinanath Natyagruha at Vile Parle, Shanmukhananda Hall at Matunga, Prabhodankar Thackeray Theatre at Borivali, Rang Sharda and St. Andrews Auditorium at Bandra and the various theatres at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) at Nariman Point. The number of theatre- goers is on the rise this month and here are a few reasons why.

The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) promotes all kinds of art. Be it classical, traditional or contemporary performing or even visual arts. It also has other facilities like libraries, archives, museums, studios, workshops etcetera. The NCPA exhibits more than 500 events each year across all major art forms and also have a huge crowd showing up for these events. Over the years, the NCPA have been allied with various Marathi productions.

Prithvi Theatre is one of Mumbai’s best known theatres and belongs to the Kapoor
family, one of the most influential actor/director families in Bollywood. The theatre, named after Prithviraj Kapoor, is now run by his grandchildren, Kunal Kapoor & Sanjana Kapoor. First held in 1983, the Prithvi Theatre Festival is an annual event in the Mumbai calendar. There is no one particular theme and so the performances held there are very versatile. The Prithvi Theatre brings the very finest theatre to Mumbai.

When asked, to a theatre- goer near Prithvi Theatre, of why he liked going to the theatre, with great enthusiasm he said, “I’ve always loved watching plays in theatre. The performers are so talented. The make everything seems so real that you can’t help but involve yourself in the play. It has always been a thrill to watch them perform. It’s a one take performance. The quality of performances they put up, I think, is one of the reasons why theatre is still alive in Mumbai.” It is true that it is a one take performance and so the performers have to be so well prepared with their script that they cannot afford to make a single mistake and if they do so, must be able to improvise on the spot, which is also an art. Most people are captivated by the passion and energy of the performers. Actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Boman Irani, Anupam Kher, Shefali Shah and many others have been stage actors and have risen from theatre to being the great actors that they are now. Most of these actors still perform on stages across Mumbai due to their passion and love for it and are met with full audiences demanding for more.

So it is no secret that there are people still visiting theatres in large numbers in Mumbai as ever. Tickets for shows in Prithvi theatre, NCPA or even Dinanath Mangeshkar hall for that matter have to be booked in advance since due to the quality of performances there. Most shows there go houseful during weekends.  Theatre is here to stay!

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