And the Purushottam Karandak goes to...
No takers for Purushottam Karandak this year as judges question merit.
Bhumika Oak, Ketki Shukla | The decision of the jury members of Pune's prestigious Purushottam Karandak not to award any of the participants with the title has been met with discussions and disappointment on part of students and fraternity members. Organised by the Maharashtra Kalopasak, the Purushottam Karandak completed 57 years this year. One of the most prestigious competitions, the final round was held on Sunday, September 18. It was after two years of a break due to the pandemic that the students were taking the stage this year. However, the judges declared that no play in the final round was worth-enough to win the title trophy - Purushottam Karandak. The winners were still given cash prizes as a token for their performances.
Reacting to this turn of events, participants from Marathwada Mitra Mandal's College of Commerce (MMCC) said, "Purushottam is one of the most celebrated competitions in Pune. But this year the announcement for the final round was made barely a month prior. There was not enough time to prepare, which was challenging."
This year the final round of the Purushottam Karandak competition was judged by Paresh Mokashi, Himanshu Smart and Pournima Manohar. The one-act plays 'Kaligman', 'Bhu-Bhu' and 'Gabhara' won the Purushottam Karandak, Hari Vianayak Karandak, Sanjiv Karandak were awarded cash prizes for the first, second and third positions respectively, but no one was awarded the title trophies.
Raj Dikshit from Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce, who also participated in the competition said, "Students had a lot of pressure as we were going to perform on stage after two whole years. We expected that juries would consider this and make their decision accordingly. But instead, they announced only cash prizes. We as students practice and work hard for a competition like Purushottam Karandak. Winning this trophy feels like a badge of honour. It was disheartening.”
Another student from MMCC said that, "Everything about the competition this year was unexpected including the decision about top nine and not awarding the trophy because of lack of merit. I feel it is kind of unfair to the students."
Swapnil Kamble, Assistant Professor and member of the Cultural Committee at MMCC said that the result definitely affected the spirit of the students.
"From the perspective of the jury, they have some rights. If no team has been selected as a winner then there should not have been any 'final' round, because every crew member of the team strives for winning the competition. The result has definitely affected the spirit and passion for participation. It's possible that less number of teams would participate next year because they know the match can be 'draw' any time," Kamble said.
Various prominent personalities from the Marathi Film and Theatre fraternity have given mixed opinions about the Judges' decision. Some have said that students need to focus more creatively on the content rather than mainstream topics and some said that the decision was unfair to the students. Some have come forward to help participants hone their talent.
Renowned writer-Director, Nipun Dharmadhikari recently announced, "Purushottam Karandak 2022 results were disheartening. A free workshop for theater enthusiasts has been planned for every college who participated in the Purushottam Karandak 2022."
वाईट निश्चितच वाटणार, पण यामुळेच सकस आणि दर्जेदार सादर करण्याची चढाओढ वाढावी, तयारी करावी पुढील वर्षी तरी असं होणार नाही याची, मलाही वाईट वाटलं त्या विद्यार्थ्यांबद्दल, पण यातून त्यांनी बोध घ्यावा,— Neelima Kulkarni (@starneelima) September 19, 2022
Theatre writer, director and actor Niranjan Pednekar said that the result is completely the perogative of the jury, as long as it fits in the rules and regulations.
"I feel one should not question an examiner's decision. But at the same time, the participants who were performing were college-going students. Judges should have at least empathised with this fact. A decision like this was not necessary, the judges could have considered the best among all the selected ones for the trophy," Pednekar added.
He also hoped that the organisers consider this and take necessary steps to avoid such an instance occuring in future.
Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra and theatre plays a prominent role not only to fetch out new talent but also for people who enjoy plays and interaction with artists. Purushottam Karandak is an important inter-collegiate Marathi one-act play competition held in the city, where students from across Maharashtra participate, representing their respective colleges.
It has served as a learning and launching ground for several renowned artists in the Marathi theatre and film industries. The decision to not award trophies this year would certainly create a dilemma among senior artists as well as students putting themselves in a position where they now need to decide if they consistently need to bring in new ideas or brush up their basics of understanding what theatre needs in the era of OTT.
Indie Journal tried to contact one of the jury members Pournima Manohar for her comment, but she said she would comment on the issue only after September 23, when the prize distribution ceremony for the competition is scheduled to be held.