TODAY -

Kanhailal honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award
Source: The Sangai Express / Manipur Info Centre

New Delhi, March 28 2015 : After a week of exciting theatre fare in the National capital, the eagerly anticipated 10th Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2015 were announced at a red carpet event on Friday at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mansingh Road here.

Towards the promotion of Indian theatre, the USD 16.5 billion multinational –Mahindra Group based in Mumbai took the initiative of awarding talented artistes in 14 different categories in theatre including the Lifetime Achievement Award every year.

Over the past few days, theatre enthusiasts in the capital had been treated with the 10 nominated productions of the country, shortlisted from 290 entries.

Out of ten, three plays from the North East found their place in the nominated zone.

The three plays from the North East were Dreams from My Room directed by Chingtham Banikanta Singh and produced by Pan Manipuri Theatre from Manipur, Dhou… The Wave directed by Gunakar Dev Goswami and produced by Purvarang and Fall of a King- Burha Manuhor Babe Desh Nai directed by Palash Protim Mech and produced by Oftas, both from Assam.



H Kanhailal with Anand Mahindra
H Kanhailal with Anand Mahindra


Renowned music director N.Tiken Singh of Dreams from My Room shared the Best Innovative Sound Design with Hitesh Dhutia of Rage and Beyond: Irawat's Gandhari.

Noted dancer Seujpriya and her husband Gunakar Dev Goswami of Dhou… The Wave bagged the Best Choreography.

Fall of a King- Burha Manuhor Babe Desh Nai was honoured with the Best Ensemble award.

It was the winning moment for Kerala based Director Jino Joseph as his play Matthi, which won the Best production at META 2015, also bagged the most number of awards including Best Director and Best script for him as well as Best Actor in Lead Role (Male) for Renji Kankot.

The Best Actor in Lead role (Female) was shared by danseuse, vocalist and actor Sanjukta Wagh for her stirring performance in Rage and Beyond: Irawat's Gandhari and Swetha Shrinivas for her brilliant portrayal of Seetha in Chitrapata.

The grand event had a mesmerizing moment for the audience with a standing ovation when the living legend of Indian theatre- Heisnam Kanhailal from Manipur was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Indian Theatre by Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of Manhindra & Mahindra.

The award carried prize money of Rs 5 lakh.

In his short speech, Kanhailal said, "Theatre is not a profession which can earn livelihood" .

Recalling what the theatre doyen Ebrahim Alkazi had said, Kanhailal remarked, "But, we have to do theatre with a sense of professional responsibility".

He thanked the private philanthropic groups which came out in support of theatre in the country.

Born in Imphal in 1941, Heisnam Kanhailal began his career in Manipuri theatre, searching for an authentic expression through experimentation with Manipuri culture and traditions.

His efforts led him to National School of Drama in 1968.However, his creative aspirations did not allow him to continue within the confines of the system.

Returning to Imphal, he founded Kalakshetra in 1969 to study, revive and project the culture of Manipur through the art of theatre.

Since then, Kalakshetra aims to set highest standard of performance to match not only the best in India but the world theatre scene.

His search to discover theatre across different social strata and communities resulted in new form of theatrilisation on Tamnalai (Haunting Deities) in 1972, which dealt about youth unrest.

In 1978, he nearly blurred the line between life and theatre, when he invited 100 women from the historic Nupi Keithel (Women's Market) in Imphal and inspired them to perform a non-proscenium open-air theatre production of Nupi Lan (Women's Agitation) at the campus of Johnstone Higher Secondary School, Imphal.

He had briefly worked with Badal Sircar in 1973 and with his wife Heisnam Sabitri, a renowned theatre artiste of India conducted workshops across India for theatre students.

In the last 20 years he conducted more than 15 major workshops for theatre artistes from different cultural backgrounds in the country.

He went on tour extensively in India and abroad with his plays- Pebet, Memoirs of Africa, Mii Sarang and Nupi, among others, performing in Tokyo, Cairo and Singapore.

He had been honoured with the Padmashri in the field of Art and Theatre in 2003.Other awards bestowed on him included- Manipur State Kala Akademi for theatre in 1982, Natya Ratna of Manipuri Sahitya Parishad in 1997, Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellow in 2011, Tanveer Award of Maharastra in 2011, Kala Kumari National Award in 2011, Kalidas Sanman in 2014 .

The award ceremony in the style of the Oscar Ceremony was hosted by Indian film actor, screen writer and director Rajat Kapoor and film and television actress Ira Dubey and it was glittered with the memorable performances of music composer Vidya Shah, Kathak dancer Aditi Mangaldas and Barmer Boys, a band of Rajasthani folk musicians.


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