The 19th edition of National School of Drama’s (NSD) International Drama Festival ‘Bharat Rang Mahotsav’ commenced on February 1. The inaugural ceremony was presided over by Ratan Thiyam, Chairman, National School of Drama Society and addressed by Waman Kendre, Director, NSD in the august presence of Chief guest, Dr Sonal Man Singh – renowned Bharatnatyam and Odissi Dancer; Guest of Honour, Mr Narendra Kumar Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India; and Special Guests, Mr Feroz Abbas Khan – eminent film and theatre director and Ms Vera Berzak Schneider – famous theatre director from Israel, whose play in English ‘A Stranger Guest’ will also be performed during the current ‘Bharat Rang Mahotsav’. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfProf Kendre said, “Today, on the occasion of Basant Panchami, the spring season of theatre has also started.” ‘Bharat Rang Mahotsav’ – an International Drama Festival is Asia’s biggest and also among the largest in the world. Bharat Rang Mahotsav’s this years’ schedule features 94 theatre performances by renowned theater groups from different parts of India and world. This year, in this 21 day festival, theatre lovers of 6 Indian cities including New Delhi, Kurukshetra, Pune, Agartala, Hyderabad and Patna would be treated to scintillating theatre performances. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveMr Feroz Abbas Khan said,”I feel that artists should not speak, it is their work that should speak. I appreciate the two doyens of theatre are on the dais – namely Prof Waman Kendre and Ratan Thiyam, who are institutions in their own right. I think festivals means and expresses civilizational values which we cherish. It is during such festivals that the civilizational values like the following comes to the fore: diversity, with their differences and choices are accommodated and welcomed in such festivals.” Chief guest Dr Sonal Mansingh said, “Every day is an auspicious day but today being Basant Panchami, it is considered as one of the most auspicious days according to Hindu calendar. Since ’19th Bharat Rang Mahotsav’ started today, which is an auspicious day to begin work as it is a day dedicated to Goddess Saraswati – the deity of knowledge. I feel that knowledge will kill all the ignorance and I am still a student and seeker of knowledge. National School of Drama is growing each day and it is leaping ahead, my warm wishes and blessings are with this organization. ’19th Bharat Rang Mahotsav’ has also invited me and I feel honored to showcase my maiden performance here.” The inaugural play ‘Uttara Rama Charitham’ (in Hindi) was staged before the discerning audience as a tribute to the legendary theatre director, Kavalam Narayana Panikkar. The play was performed by Sopanam Theatre Group of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, which lasted for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. This year 3 plays as a tribute to Indian Theatre Masters – Kavalam Narayan Pannikar, Heisnam Kanhailal and Prem Matiyani who recently left for heavenly abode are being staged. Sopanam Theatre’s maiden Hindi production, ‘Uttara Rama Charitam’ is adapted from Bhavabhuti’s Sanskrit play. The play directed and designed by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar has its text rendition done by Hindi poet Dr Udayan Vajpeyi. The play depicts the dual state of Rama, who is torn between ‘Rama-the family man’ and ‘Rama-the ruler’.