The final day of the seven-day long Dinesh Thakur Memorial Festival in Agra ended with the Ank Theatre Group’s (unbelievably) 1147th presentation of the comedy play ‘Hai Mera Dil’ at Soorsadan Auditorium. A story about a hypochondriac man who fears for his impending death, a threat that he has cooked up all in his head it ensues as a classic comedy of errors with the man going as far as to clandestinely arrange an affair for his wife with her old acquaintance in order to have someone to take care of her after he has gone. How his attempts go awry becomes the crux of this hilarious comedy.
On the third consecutive day, Preeta Mathur Thakur, Aman Gupta, Atul Mathur and Shankar Iyer returned; this time around to don the roles of Usha, Madan Mohan Agrawal, Arvind and Dr. Iyer respectively. Three days and three entirely different scripts and three completely different roles from each other, yet these actors did not miss a beat. Another prominent role was performed skillfully by Sumit Bhardwaj that of a debonair and slightly overbearing Mohan.
The play was a blend of tongue in cheek humour, situational comedy and even some over the top dream sequences. Working on stereotypes the play managed to make the audiences laugh, though on some occasions a bit inappropriately. But the overall performance playing on the concept of paranoia managed to keep its theme intact throughout.
While Ranglok Theatre group of Agra had invited different theatre groups from different cities in last year’s edition of theatre festival, it had single handedly hosted that event. This time around the Agra group worked in collaboration with the Ank Theatre group from Mumbai to stage this week-long festival with a performance from Rangoor Creation Foundation from Varanasi as well.
As is well known, Mumbai has a vast reservoir of capital and resources when it comes to entertainment. Known for its film industry popularly called Bollywood, Mumbai has a rich history of theatre culture right from early 1900s and even before. Ank theatre group which was founded by Dinseh Thakur in 1976, alone has completed 42 years with more than 7000 shows of 83 productions. Preeta who is also the president of Ank, made an observation on the irony that is deficiency of Hindi theatre in Hindi heartland. Borrowing from Ank’s rich legacy, Ranglok managed to bring some excellent productions, performances and artists in Agra for this year’s festival.
While it is a big achievement to spearhead a new initiative, what is more impressive is to sustain it. Dimpy Mishra and his entire team of Ranglok by managing to host the second edition of the festival in Agra, have done just that. But even other than this effort, in almost a decade long journey the group has witnessed a remarkable progress whilst continuously managing to introduce talents from all over the country as well as works of literary stalwarts to the audiences of Agra who have cultivated a taste for the same and learnt to better appreciate them.