META 2019 Brings Home the Best of Indian Theater

By Avilasha Sarmah in Events 21/02/2019

The 14th edition of the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META), a week-long national theatre festival and awards ceremony, announced its list of nominations on 20th February 2019. The 10 selected productions that are scheduled to be showcased from the 6th to the 11th of March, 2019, at New Delhi’s Kamani Auditorium and Shri Ram Centre, spans across diverse and cross-cultural subjects. An esteemed panel of jury members will choose and felicitate the Red-Carpet Awards Ceremony on March 12th, 2019, graced by luminaries from Indian theatre.


A still from the play Agarbatti


META is known to be the only National Theatre awards, which recognizes excellence in multiple languages, along with awards across 14 categories catering to set, costume and light design, direction, production, and performance.


This year the Selection Committee viewed over 400 plays featuring veteran films, stage actors and award-winning producers like Denzil Smith, Jyothish M.G, Veena Bakshi and stage critic Vikram Phukan.


A still from the play, Chandâla, Impure


The 10 nominations feature plays in Gujarati, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, along with Hindi and English:


Agarbatti (Hindi and Bundeli) is a riveting tale of caste, gender, class, conflict, and politics, told against the backdrop of the Behmai massacre at the hands of the infamous Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi and her gang.


Two different adaptations of Andha Yug (in Gujarati from Vadodara and in Hindi from Imphal), a verse play set against the backdrop of the Mahabharata war, have been selected for the finals.


A still from the Gujarati adaptation of the Andha Yug


Chandâla, Impure (Tamil) is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet but set within the constructs of the ruthless Indian caste system.


Chillara Samaram (Malayalam) chronicles a protest of the people against their town corporation authority which wants to replace every small shop with glitzy malls and ban the use of coins. Detective 9-2-11 (Hindi and English) is a whirlwind of romance, murder, deceit, and suspense which begins with gunshots heard at the Mumbai Opera House.


Kola (Kannada) is a strongly written family drama set in rural Vidharbha which talks about relationships, aspirations, joys, sorrows, and anger. Loose Woman (English) through dance, theatre, music, and video depicts the ways in which a woman travels and experiences different ‘spaces’.


A still from Pulijanmam


Pulijanmam (Malayalam) is a reinterpretation of a classic text which questions the morals of a society which has long marginalized Dalits. And Bhagi Hui Ladkiyan (Hindustani) is a narrative-led performance which depicts the actors’ dilemmas through interesting visual aspects, and even asks the audience to participate.


While Jay Shah, Head, Cultural Outreach of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd Sanjoy K. Roy, MD, Teamwork Arts, & Festival Producer,  applauded the diversity and vibrancy that is reflective of the growth of Indian Theatre, Denzil Smith talked about the ‘healthy balance of traditional and contemporary theatre’, true of this year’s META, and said how the lines between mainstream and regional theatre have been blurred.


The Company Theatre (Detective 9-2-11) mark their fourth year of nomination and have had stellar plays featuring in the awards including Piya Behrupiya which won the META for Best Play and Best Ensemble in 2014, Hamlet – The Clown Prince which won the Best Play along with 4 other category awards in 2009, and Numbers in the Dark which won Best Stage Design and Best Choreography in 2007. Veteran Director at The Company Theatre, Atul Kumar himself has been nominated in the Best Director category for the 3rd time.


Indianostrum Théâtre (Chandâla, Impure) with Director Koumarane Valavane return for another year of nominations after their debut at the 2018 META with Karuppu which was nominated for Best Director and Best Light Design.


A still from the play Kola


There are a slew of first-time nominations including Samagam Rangmandal (Agarbatti) with Director Swati Dubey; Aagaaz Theatre Trust (Bhagi Hui Ladkiyan) with Director Dhwani Vij; Rang Prayog (Andha Yug – Gujarati Adaptation) with Director Dr. Chavan Pramod R.; TAAM, Manipur (Andha Yug – Hindi Adaptation) with Director Joy Maisnam; Little Earth School Of Theatre Kerala (Chillara Samaram) with Director Arun Lal; Theatre Tatkal (Kola) with Director Achutha Kumar; Dravida Entertainments (Pulijanmam) with Director Bineesh K. and  Vismayah (Loose Woman) with veteran Director Maya Krishna Rao.


“In the last decade or so, social media has allowed the lay audience to become aware of theatre and it’s a great thing for theatre practitioners who are looking to create original content”, said Selection Committee Member Vikram Phukan.


META 2019 will present the Lifetime Achievement Award as well as 13 competitive categories of Best Play, Best Director, Best Stage Design, Best Light Design, Best Innovative Sound Design, Best Costume Design, Best Actor in a Lead Role (Male), Best Actor in a Lead Role (Female), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female), Best Original Script, Best Ensemble and Best Choreographer.


A still from the play, Loose Woman


For the full list of nominations and schedule, please visit


Currently curating a creative team for Feministaa! Apart from that I am a wanderer who loves to write. Places call out to me and I enjoy making poetry out of moments. Do check out my book – “When the Cuckoo Called”.

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