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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



IPTA’s 48th ICDC: Testament to teenage talent

IPTA’s 48th ICDC: Testament to teenage talent

An inter-collegiate short Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) drama competition (ICDC), introduced by the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) 47 years ago, has captured the imagination of budding talent in Mumbai’s colleges. It was this contest that has given us actors like Aamir Khan, Kunal Khemu, Neha Sharad, Channa Ruparel and Deven Bhojani. The 48th edition took place, as usual, in September, attracting 23 entries from local educational institutions.

To enter the competition, you had to follow a few rules and regulations:

1. All participants, actors and back stage workers must be bona fide students of the University of Mumbai, its affiliated colleges or Govt. recognised institutions of Higher Learning. Students of Private Institutions and coaching classes are not eligible.

2. Technical help like direction, stage décor and lights may be taken from non-university sources.

3. The short plays may be in Hindi, Urdu or Hindustani (a blend of the two).

4. No play may be staged in the competition by a college / institution if the same has been staged in the past 3 years in IPTA’s ICDC Finals.

5. The play must have literary value and content and as such care should be taken in selecting the script. The professor-in-charge must read the script and put his / her signature of approval on it with the stamp of the college / institution.

Each play was given 60 minutes, their time beginning with the commencement of stage setting and ending with complete dismantling and removal of the set.

Two colleges dropped out, reducing the burden on the elimination round judges, who had to sit through 21 plays, staged over three days, at the Mysore Association’s hall at King’s Circle/Matunga, central Mumbai. A fourth day would have been required had the two colleges that opted out continued their quest.

Of these 21, I managed to see three, and a fourth at the finals. As per routine, the finals were held at the Tejpal Hall, in south Mumbai. Sadly, I had to miss out on two plays, Get Set Go and Instant Einstein, due to pressing prior commitments. The above six plays were staged again on the Finals day.

And the winners are:

IPTA is also celebrating 100 years of poet and writer Kaifi Azmi, who was an IPTA President, and whose wife and daughter—Shaukat and Shabana--both worked with IPTA for decades. Ramesh Talwar, actor-producer-director of stage and film productions, continues to be the Convenor of the ICDC organising Committee, with Subhash B. Dangayach as the Co-Convenor. One man’s presence was sorely missed at the occasion, and that was actor Farooque Shaikh, who was a very active member of IPTA, and continued to find some time for it even after attaining stardom on both, the small and the big screens. Farooque died in 2013. IPTA Mumbai’s Honorary General Secretary, old- timer Masood Akhtar, was seen actively organising things. The organisers thanked all their sponsors and Elahi Daad Khan, Principal, Divine Child School, Kolkata, for their support. Khan visits Mumbai every year, and stays here for about two weeks, to attend both, the elimination rounds and finals of the ICDC.

Judges who did duty at the eliminations were Ayesha Khan, Hari Dutt and Baljit Kumar and at the finals, we had Akhilendra Mishra, Rajesh Joshi and Rashmi Sharma donning judges’ robes.

Let us see who among the winners go on to become professional actors or directors, in drama, television, video or cinema. I wish them luck, and look forward to the next ICDC, under the stewardship of Ramesh Talwar, who wears his 70+ years very lightly indeed.


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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