Do the names Birjees Qadar ka Kunba, Raktbeej, Ismat ek Aurat, Main Nathuram Godse, Main Rahi Masoom, Oleanna and Mah Laqa Bai Chanda ring a bell? Then you must have heard of Sutradhar, which in Hyderabad’s theatre circuit is synonymous with brilliant stage performances.
This year marks 20 years since Vinay Varma’s Sutradhar staged its first independent play Anant Kulkarni’s Kisi ko to Jana, the Hindi adaptation of Marathi play Kalpana, and conducted their first theatre and acting workshop.
Looking back on the years gone by, ace director and hard task master Vinay, says, “In Hyderabad, sticking to the creative and performing arts, particularly theatre, against odds like space constraints and lack of committed talent, is a challenge. I am a slow learner. I cook biryani and not fast-food. I take my time. When we started, nobody took notice of us. As I am not a networking guy, didn’t know whom to contact at publication houses to publicise our work. Nowadays, print media has become magnanimous in giving proper support to theatre. Wish it was the same when we started.”
He rues, “I was working in Nasik for a critical period when all the transition happened in Hyderabad’s theatre circuit. There I lost out on the ‘creating contacts’ phase.”
The aim of Sutradhar was not to restrict itself to theatre alone. Vinay wanted to create a platform for local talent. After 55 productions and nearly 200 shows in India and abroad, Vinay has trained over 300 actors and 150-odd participants in voice lending. Some of those he has trained have gone on to become known names in theatre, television and cinema. These include Jennifer (Award winning short film director), Yashashwini Pathak (film editor), Vijay Varma (actor — Pink, MCA and Gully Boy), Vishnu Vardhan Reddy (better known as Sree Vishnu in the Telugu film industry), Chennamaneni Vasudev Rao (Vasu, for all), D. Vijay Sai (popular as Vijay Devarakonda), Aditi Sharma (Hindi TV actor), Raina Rao (Nandi award winning child actor), and many more who’re still struggling to find their foothold but refuse to give up. That’s the fire which drives them all.
Wading against the odds is what which makes Sutradhar stand out. “Despite the challenges, our productions and our work at different festivals, has people telling me that this is something different. Challenges propel you to give your best. In these 20 years, a lot has happened. I have quit my job. But theatre is something that lives with you. It is food for the soul, and we have managed to create a talent bank.
“People from other parts of the country and even abroad approach us for talents. Even our workshop sessions are one of a kind with different activities. Our first session begins with music, where one dances and responds to the sound. At our workshops, the thought process begins from day one. Even today, my students call me and say they now realise the meaning of all the exercises we used to conduct,” shares Vinay.
After two decades in the field, where does he think Hyderabad stands on theatre? According to him, the city’s theatre scene will not change for the next five years when compared to cities like Kolkata, Mumbai and Bengaluru. To make it to the coveted theatre producing league, the audience will have to drive the change, he feels....