The national theatre fraternity and a diverse audience came together in New Delhi for a glittering Red Carpet Awards Night at the 18th Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META). Instituted by the Mahindra Group and curated by Teamwork Arts, the week-long extravaganza came to an end, celebrating the finest of Indian theatre from across the country. On Wednesday, 29th March, the Festival bestowed the coveted META to the top 10 nominated plays from this year’s showcase at Kamani Auditorium.
Indian theatre’s most definitive and inclusive annual awards and festival gala – the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards – recognises excellence in theatre nationally, and celebrates the diversity intrinsic to the rich cultural traditions of India. META is India’s most comprehensive theatre awards and much revered in the theatre fraternity, recognising both on-stage and off-stage talent across 14 award categories, including the esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award. Like each year, META shortlisted over 400 entries representing languages like Assamese, English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Marwari and Tamil.
The jury for this season of META comprised theatre director Amal Allana; theatre and film actor Arundhati Nag; award-winning theatre director Bruce Guthrie; academic and theatre director Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry; Sangeet Natak Akademi Award recipient and actor Mohan Agashe; award-winning theatre artist and actor Shernaz Patel; and Director of India Habitat Centre and President of the Delhi Music Society Sunit Tandon.
At the 18th edition of META, Hunkaro swept the show, winning the 2023 META for Best Production (Best Play). Mohit Takalkar (Hunkaro) was bestowed with Best Stage Design, Devika Kale (Hunkaro) for Best Costume Design and Moirangthem Biseshwar Singh (The Departed Dawn) for Best Innovative Sound Design.
Following the stellar line-up of winners, Best Director was bagged by Mohit Takalkar (Hunkaro) and Best Light Design by Vikrant Thakar (Hunkaro); Best Original Script also went to Chirag Khandelwal & Arvind Charan for Hunkaro. Shakuntala Bai Nagarkar (Lavani ke Rang) for Best Actor in a Lead Role (Female) and Geetanjali Kulkarni (Lavani Ke Rang) won the META for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female); Hunkaro got Best Ensemble; Victor Thoudam (The Departed Dawn) received Best Choreography.
The META for Best Actor in a Lead Role (Male) was awarded to two actors this season – Santhosh Dindagur (Daklakatha Devikavya) and Victor Thoudam (The Departed Dawn). Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male) was bagged by Bharat Dingri (Daklakatha Devikavya).
One of India’s most acclaimed stage, film and television actors, Sushma Seth was conferred the META Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Indian theatre. Sushma Seth started her career in the 1950s, and was a founder member of the Delhi-based theatre group Yatrik. Her first movie was Junoon in 1978. In her illustrious career spanning almost 6 decades, she has directed and acted in 80 plays in Hindi, Urdu, and English. She has also appeared in over 100 films and television series, amongst which her iconic role in the pioneering TV soap Hum Log, aired in the 1980s, still stands out.
Jay Shah, Vice President & Head, Cultural Outreach, The Mahindra Group, said, “This year’s META was a veritable feast for the senses covering various topics of social relevance. Each theatrical presentation lived up to our quest for theatrical excellence and the 18th META yet again affirmed the Mahindra Group’s commitment to this essential art form. Our congratulations to each of the winners, the nominees and in fact all the 395 applicants who aspired for this coveted award.”
Sanjoy K Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts & Festival Producer, said, “This year’s META plays have shown a spotlight on identity, caste, gender politics and discrimination. The plays across languages demonstrated the vast diversity of the traditional and contemporary theatre forms in India. What was heartening to see were full houses for all the shows irrespective of language.”
Hosted by celebrated Indian actor Jim Sarbh, the 2023 META Awards Night featured several stalwarts and influencers including internationally acclaimed performers, composers, cultural entrepreneurs and music educators such as…
- composers and musicians Pandit Shubhendra Rao & Saskia De Has
- celebrated folk singer Padmashree Malini Awasthi
- one of India’s most respected and renowned fashion designers Ritu Beri
- accomplished director, photographer and costume designer Shobhaa Deepak Singh
- former Artistic Director of Scotland’s National centre for Dance Morag Deyes
- H.E. India’s High Commissioner to Namibia and Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations Kumar Tuhin
- celebrated Indian actors Manoj Bajpayee and Adil Hussain
- author and festival director Anjum Katyal
- theatre practitioner and stage commentator Vikram Phukan and many more illustrious names.
Breathtaking performances by The Ao Naga Choir, and Cirque De India who curated a special show entitled ShivShakti, were the function’s highlights.
Complete list of winners that won hearts and stole the show at the 18th Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards:
- BEST STAGE DESIGN – Mohit Takalkar (Hunkaro)
- BEST LIGHT DESIGN – Vikrant Thakar (Hunkaro) new nomination
- BEST INNOVATIVE SOUND DESIGN – Moirangthem Biseshwar Singh (The Departed Dawn)
- BEST COSTUME DESIGN – Devika Kale (Hunkaro)
- BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE (MALE) – Bharat Dingri (Daklakatha Devikavya)
- BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE (FEMALE) – Geetanjali Kulkarni (Lavani Ke Rang)
- BEST ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE (MALE) – Santhosh Dindagur (Daklakatha Devikavya) and Victor Thoudam (The Departed Dawn)
- BEST ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE (FEMALE) – Shakuntala Bai Nagarkar (Lavani ke Rang)
- BEST CHOREOGRAPHY – Victor Thoudam (The Departed Dawn)
- BEST ENSEMBLE – Hunkaro
- BEST ORIGINAL SCRIPT – Chirag Khandelwal & Arvind Charan (Hunkaro)
- BEST DIRECTOR – Mohit Takalkar (Hunkaro)
- BEST PRODUCTION – Hunkaro directed by Mohit Takalkar