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AHUM, a new art trust, kickstarts its journey with a theatre festival

Marking the launch of a new art collective, AHUM, short for Art Heart U and Mind, is a festival of five one-woman plays entitled One, to be staged over a duration of three days. Founded by Anuradha Venkatraman, a Bharatanatyam dancer with a strong inclination to all things art-related, including music, painting and theatre, the festival starts off with Peacock Prince. Starring Venkatraman herself, it follows the journey of Amba, who aims to kill Bhishma after he rejects her marriage proposal. The dance dialogue blends the spoken word and Bharatanatyam, in what Venkatraman assures us is an engaging production.

31CultureLead4“The festival is a nice mix of contemporary and classic tales with the common theme of women overcoming obstacles to get what they want. It’s not an attempt at making a feminist statement. It’s just us presenting a story as it is,” sharesVenkatraman.
Amrapali with actor Janani Narasimhan playing the lead is another play that Venkatraman highlights. Amrapali, in ancient Indian mythology, was a state courtesan who is said to have entertained men in her house with dance, music and poetry.The tale narrates how Amrapali and Gautama Buddha met and how he won her over.

Other plays that are part of the festival are Mata Hari — the story of an exotic dancer who was executed by the French for being a spy in the first World War, Singarevva and the Palace, which follows the life of a beautiful woman in North Karnataka, who is manipulated by her father, her husband and lover and how she exacts revenge on them, and Apradhini – Women Without Men, which is an account of writer, Shivani Gaurav Pant’s experiences with women who have been imprisoned for crimes ranging from dacoity to murder.

All directed by V Balakrishnan of Theatre Nisha, Venkatraman tells us that the fest has been curated to look into the societal roles and stereotypes that have been attributed to women over the years.

Meant to connect art with community, AHUM aims to curate events regularly with a focus on spaces that have not been explored in the city. “There are many venues that don’t have any events. With the city growing so much, it’s not easy to travel from one end of town to the other just to catch a play or a recital. So I hope to stage events at rare places, however small it may be, to give people a chance to introduce some art into their lives,” Venkatraman reveals. Next on her agenda is a concert by city-based Hindustani band Sumaad, which will be held in October.

At Alliance Francaise, Vasant Nagar. July 31 to August 2. Tickets (`250 upwards) on  bookmyshow.com
—Rashmi Rajagopal

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