Singapore’s premier Hindi theatre festival Dastak returns to the Lion City, and it’s even bigger and better this year!
The festival’s organisers have opted for performing five 20-minute plays this year instead of the 10 usual 10-minute shows. The theme this year is street-play-inspired theatre from the streets of Mumbai.
“The benefit of a slighter longer format is that stories can have a little longer in their narratives to unfold and in the story telling itself,” Shalaka Ranadive, festival director, told Connected to India.
Dastak 2023 is running from August 18 - 20 at the Black Box in Goodman Arts Centre.
“Over the years, the festival has evolved and grown in terms of people participating, the diversity of plays, branching into other ventures, reach on social media and, most importantly, the appreciative audience who come to the theatre,” Shalaka added.
Reflecting the multicultural diversity of Singapore and arts transcending boundaries, Dastak has presented plays in Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, to give the audience the full experience of the vibrant theatre scene in Singapore.
New additions and features for this year’s festival include Gopal Datt, of ‘Delhi Crime’ fame, bringing a team from India to perform ‘Aur Karo Theatre’, a street-play inspired piece.
The festival will also have its first ever improv performance, directed by Lewin Bernard, a non-Hindi speaking director. This is the first time the audience will participate in the narrative, the organisers said.
Sajini Naidu and KP Sandhu, popular Singaporean Tamil and Punjabi performers, are bringing their talents for ‘Good Night’, a dark dramatic comedy directed by local Thai talent Dew Chaiyanara.
Dastak has produced and presented over 50 plays across genres since it was launched. The true success of this production is its emphasis on providing inclusive and quality theatre. Alongside established local Hindi artists such as Sharul Channa, Rishi Budhrani and Subin Subaiah, and non-Hindi-speaking artists such as Gavin Low (2021), Susie Penrice Tyrie (2017), Hemang Yadav (2017 & 2021) and Grace Kalai (2019), Dastak allows aspiring actors with full-time day jobs to explore and fuel their creativity unreservedly, an official statement read.
Over the years, Dastak’s plays have been performed not just during its own festival but also in Singapore at the Indian Heritage Centre festival, in Malaysia at Melacca and in India at the Kaala Ghoda Arts Festival at Mumbai. This year’s event might serve as a springboard for an exciting foray into the Indian theatre scene, as the organisers are planning to host next year’s iteration in India.
“The intent of Dastak has been to present, showcase talent and build further the community of patrons, artists alike and over the years we have been able to build our little corner,” Shalaka said. “ We wanted to try something different and explore a new format, approach and content. Right from planning to execution it’s a different journey from the past five editions.”
Here are the previews of the five plays of Dastak 2023:
SH, directed by Charu Madan
Starring: Avtar Bhulla, Saurabh Sardana, Charu Madan
Can we bridge the gap that our society faces after 80 years of independence? Perhaps with a little acceptance, a little truth, a little friendship? Do you know how to make it happen in a little Indian village?
The Proposal, directed by Hemang Yadav
Starring: Rachita Arke, Neeraj Sujanani, Yogesh Tadwalkar, Sheetal Sharma
It should have been a straightforward proposal: all Salim had to do was propose to Anarkali. After all, with her father Javed’s blessing already in the bag, what could go wrong? Well, when chaos ensues, can the faithful Sigal come to the rescue in the marriage of convenience?
Good Night, directed by Dew Chaiyanara
Starring: Sajini Naidu, KP Sandhu
'Good Night' is a dark comedy about an exhausted man’s sleepless anguish contributed to by his eccentric lover’s neurotic tendencies and hilarious phobias.
Bang Bang, directed by Lewin Bernard
Starring: Amit Joshi, Lagnajit Patnaik, Saurabh Sardana
Why do we do the things we do? Is it because of love or because of what is at stake? We find two assassins in a room with their target who is bounded to a chair but only to find out that their power to choose what to do next has been taken away. One wants to retire, another wants to be number 1, and the last one just wants to stay alive. Maybe you should decide what should happen next in this assassin’s game. This improv play will draw the audience into a farcical murder mystery.
Aur Karo Theatre, directed by Gopal Dutt
Street-play inspired piece with limericks and poetry brought to you by a talented trio from India. The play will include music, poetry, and dance drama.