As summer slowly creeps in, the Kolkata theatre festival season draws to another unquenchable end. Theatre lovers are being profusely treated with contemporary and classic plays at multiple Theatre Festivals across town even now. Still, the wait has already begun for next winter.
Over the season, we haven’t noticed a buzz of the kind generated around Hypokrites’ Porjash 6. From the Logo inauguration at Tapan Theatre through ‘Road to Porjash’, one could sense something very exclusive was beginning to unfold. The countdown to the festival day began a month back, as Hypokrites first changed their cover picture with a ‘30 days to go’ message and continued till the 27th. Next, eminent faces from the film and theatre fraternity started appearing in video clips on their page, inviting the audience to come and support good theatre.
Ranging from entertaining comedy to heart touching musicals to thought-provoking thunderbolts, the platter of Porjash 6 was full of 8 exquisite and diverse theatrical delicacies. Let’s take a look at a few moments from the 4 back-to-back performances of the second half that appeased the theatre hungry soul of the Porjash audience at Gyan Manch.
>> Moments from Porjash 6 <<
BongRong: Congratulations are in order for the success of Porjash 6.That was quite an experience for the theatre lovers of Kolkata. We have never seen this kind of PR wave generated in Kolkata before, for any theatre festival. Starting from the logo launch at ‘Road to Porjash 6’ back on 29th November, what new things did you try out?
Anindya:See, before this,Porjash at max had 6 back to back performances at Porjash 4. We had 8 performances this time. Obviously, either the length was shorter or the setup required lesser time to fit everything within the timeline this year.
If we look at the promotional activities building up to the festival day, we had 12 celebrity bites, which got a superb response. We had a tagline, Support Good Theatre – that too got positive feedback. Also, a week before the show, we made customized Porjash covers for Facebook profiles. Initially, few members from Hypokrites uploaded it as their cover picture and after seeing that, loads of our friends started asking for it. So, we ended up designing around 200 cover pictures and out of which 40 were for team members. That was a big support.
BongRong: Wow! That’s a lot of cover picture designing. Moving on, the inauguration of the event, how did you come up with the idea?
Anindya: Well, for the last 5 editions we did a lot of brainstorming with the inauguration. We have had Goutam Halder, Dwijen Bandyopadhyay, Biswajit Chakraborty, Chandan Sen, Shantilal Mukherjee inaugurating Porjash. We have always requested some prominent personalities to inaugurate. Even for this year we zeroed in on two widely acclaimed members of our industry.
During the pre-show meetings, an idea suddenly materialized. It was to do something with the 6 technicians, that we had the privilege of working with for years. Why not felicitate them and have them inaugurate our festival? Now the question was how to make it happen? So, we rented Muktangan for a day and requested them to come. We shot a 4 minute video that day.The clip was played at Gyan Manch to bring these integral behind-the-scenes people in front of our audience in an intimate manner. We awarded ‘Porjash Somman 2016’ to them as well and together, they inaugurated our festival… ‘Porjash Somman’ is something we have started this year and we plan on continuing it in the years to come.
BongRong: The event presentation overall was very fresh and interesting.
Anindya: See, the general idea of decoration we saw for theatre festivals across the city has been utilizing flexes of old plays, flowers or pictures and such. We wanted to break free from the set pattern and do something contemporary which can represent the youth.
From the gate we had flexes with ‘Welcome to Porjash’ written on them. There was a red carpet from the outer gate of Gyan Manch greeting our audience. Inside the waiting area we had a 40 inch LCD TV . On that we had a presentation running that showcased our journey of these past 7 years. Just like a multiplex we had ‘Now Showing’ and ‘Up Next’ slides at the end of each presentation run. We just wanted the whole thing to have uniqueness.
BongRong: We saw a complete makeover of the Hypokrites brand…
Anindya: Yes. We did a re-branding of our group. People always confuse the spelling of our name. Even you guys wrote Hypocrites instead of Hypokrites and we had to correct that….
BongRong: We can’t apologize enough for that mistake.
Anidya: So, we created a very minimalistic logo where we specifically highlighted the ‘K’, now we hope that kind of mistake doesn’t get repeated.
BongRong: So, what kind of crowd presence did you get?
Anindya: Both halves were houseful. Well, that happens with every Porjash but this year the rush was a lot more. Loads of people had to go back because we didn’t have enough place to accommodate the crowd and we are really sorry about that.
BongRong: It’s been over a week after the show. What kind of audience response are you getting?
Anindya: We have video recordings of the audience response and we will be releasing it soon. You will see them talking about their overall experience of Porjash 6, as well as giving feedbacks of individual plays. Let us get done with the editing and we will release a compilation video.
We are very happy with the audience response. In fact, ‘My life as I’ got a standing ovation from the spectators. The inauguration with technicians was really appreciated by the theatre lovers. I felt really humbled when Birenda, the sweeper of Gyan Manch told me how this experience of ‘Porjash Somman 2016’ has been an exceptional moment in his life. We wanted to show the video about the technicians again before the second half. But we were falling terribly behind our schedule and it was really sad to take the decision of not playing it again. So those who were not present during the inauguration will have to wait to see it.
BongRong: What we have heard so far tells us you had quite a few memories to take forward with you. But as the head-coordinator of Porjash 6, what among those memories has been the icing on the cake?
Anindya: In all the previous five Porjash events, the senior members took care of maximum responsibilities of the festival. Those senior members are mostly around the age of 26-27 now and naturally they have just entered into serious professional life. So, they were in a total time crunch.
We have a group of 15-20 juniors who worked constantly and excelled in all the responsibilities given to them. In one and half days they stuck 1000 posters all over Kolkata. They wanted to cover more ground and we couldn’t afford it. This amount of involvement from the juniors never happened in Porjash before. We generally have 5-6 people taking up the main load of Porjash and this time we had 20-25 members working round the clock to make the event happen. It’s really inspiring for everyone in the group.
BongRong: The support you got from the industry was quite phenomenal. How did you manage that?
Anindya: Well, I have an Ad agency called Anonymous and our main client is Shree Venkatesh Films. Through that, loads of people from the industry know us very well. We have Satyam in our group who is assisting Srijitda (Srijit Mukherji). Somak is in Radio Mirchi and he is becoming quite well known as RJ Somak. The industry is basically a circle and we all get to know each other as time goes by.
The main person behind the whole thing is basically Satyam. If you check out the videos, you will see most of them are recorded on set or in the greenroom. He requested them during the shooting and they agreed to help us out.
Among the 12 celebrities, apart from Jisshuda (Jisshu Sengupta), everybody has a theatre background. We are really indebted to them for their participation in promoting Porjash. To be honest, who are Hypokrites? We are basically nobody. They could have said no. Kamaleshwar Mukherjee gave us the bite at 9 in the morning after waking up. Prosenjit Chatterjee allowed us to record him during the shooting. We don’t have enough words to express how grateful we are to all of them. It helped us immensely with the marketing and promotion.
Huge credit goes to Sutirtha Basu Photography. They have shot and edited all the videos of Porjash. We are indebted to them.
BongRong: If you could go back to one special moment in the whole experience of Porjash, what would it be?
Anindya: Not one but two moments really. First one is personal. On 28th, after the curtain call of the last play, Somak was hosting and he called me on stage to give a memento. My group had made a memento for me and I had no idea about it. Although it was a great surprise, but nothing would have happened if everyone hadn’t work with utmost dedication. So they all deserve the memento.
And yesterday when I came back home around 11 at night, I found a parcel on the bed. Inside was a framed certificate from Theatre Nandik. That really felt great.
BongRong: Thank you Anindya for your time and we could tell from the buzz we are hearing in the circuit, Hypokrites has done it again. That was a great bounce-back after last year’s hiatus. Looking forward to hear from Hypokrites soon. Until then…
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