Tuk Tuk to Bollywood at this Short + Sweet!

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Aishveryaa Nidhi with actress Cate Blanchet and Abhinay members

This year Indian line-up in Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is quite impressive thanks largely to Aishveryaa Nidhi whose ITC Abhinay School of Performing Arts is participating in four plays.  The plays with Indian casts and themes include subjects of racism, revenge, a Tuk Tuk  ride and even  a 10-minute Bollywood bonanza.  

This is Aishveryaa’s seventh year having participated in Short+Sweet ”“ the biggest short play festival in the world which attracts close to a thousand scripts from within Australia and abroad.   Aishveryaa is a silver artist and gala finalist of Short + Sweet, the only Indian actress nominated once as the best actress for her role in a play in ”˜Mandragora’. Aishverya has also acted in Sydney Theatre company’s productions ”˜Leviathan’ and ”˜The Other Way’, both directed by Stefo Nantsou.

This year Aishveryaa showcases Bollywood in Top 80, week 7 in the form of ”˜100 years of Indian Cinema in 10 minutes’ which will be just pure entertainment consisting of dance, colour, glamour as her dancers create a Bollywood hungama in the middle of Short + Sweet Theatre Festival.  Short + Sweet has in the last couple of years made entry into India with Delhi Short + Sweet first, then Mumbai, Bangaluru and Chennai as it spreads its wings all over the country thanks to Alex Broun who was the festivals’ director earlier and Aish played her own little role in helping the debut of the festival in New Delhi.

Short + Sweet Theatre Festival Sydney is now under the new director Pete Malicki who has been running the festival since last year. Says Pete, “It’s great to see Indian community starting to participate strongly in Short and Sweet festival, not only from Sydney but also from Melbourne and team coming from Chennai to take part in the festival is awesome.”

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Aishveryaa with Consul General Arun Goel and S+S Theatre Festival Director Pete Malicki

Says Aishverya, “I thought why not Bollywood since our industry is celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema. Its only a glimpse and a tribute to art and industry that is making now huge waves in the world and is being noticed worldwide for its own unique genre of movies, histrionics, song & dance. We Indians cannot live without Bollywood and so can’t the world as they discover us. ”˜100 years”¦’ is my small tribute to world’s biggest film industry through Short + Sweet and I thank Pete Malicki for giving me this wonderful opportunity to showcase bollywood.”

Abhinay School of Performing Arts actors and members are participating in other plays as well. Ravi Chanana makes his presence in Oh! India as the tuk tuk driver.

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Ravi Chanana as the tuk tuk driver in Oh! India

Oh! India is written  by Dubbo writer Cindy Neilson with set design by Cindy’s husband Dubbo’s Peter Neilson who has designed and constructed a tuk tuk Facade himself in his garage .

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Aishveryaa and the Tuk Tuk & Bollywood gang

Oh! India is about a young Aussie woman touring India and when she hires a charismatic tuk-tuk driver in Delhi, the journey ends up far richer and more relevant than her intended destination. Shourya Nidhi directs Ravi Chanana, Marcelle Wever, Arnie Dhamoon with music by Kiran Pradhan and co-direction by Aishveryaa Nidhi. It will be staged in Wildcards, Week 5 starting on February 8.

Another attraction in To 80, Week 6 is The Job Hunter  – a bizzare and provocative comedy where a Muslim woman applies for a job at a Nazi agency and is  produced by   Abhinay School of Performing Arts.

Writer director Ridwan Hassim’s ”˜The Job Hunter’ has cast Barry Walsh as Woldfgang and Emily Ward as Amina.

Barry plays Wolfgang, a passionate German Nationalist Socialist, who works at the NAZI JOB AGENCY, interviews Amina, a devout Palestinian Muslim when he is forced to confront his status quo. What will he do? ”˜The choices we make define who we become’.

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Barry Walsh as Woldfgang and Emily Ward as Amina in Job Hunter

In Week 6 you have “You Gotta Go” ”“ a story of an immigrant who has been in Sydney many years, helps a new arrival to cope with a strange Australian custom.   Differences fade as the new immigrant easily sees the universality in a seemingly parochial situation. Mohan Aviral Mohan plays Arjun as the immigrant in a play by Carol Dance from February 12 ”“ 16.

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 Rajendra Moodley in    ”˜Is it Because I’m Indian?’

Another play with Indian flavor is ”˜Is it Because I’m Indian?’ Written, directed and performed by Melbourne artist Rajendra Moodley. The play is a cheeky comedy about his own life as actor and writer as it poses the question: Is Australia racist? A one-man show with just a chair, many costume changes”¦ and a Bollywood dance is on from February 5 to February 9.

Another play that Aishveryaa directs in top 80, Week 8 is ”˜Irish Stew’.   Getting on in years, Lauretta and Carlton are losing their faculty to do with language. Their short-term memory isn’t what it used to be. But years ago they made a decision to not rage against it. So, physically agile but mentally short a few key nouns, they let it take as long as it does to find the shoe Lauretta keeps asking for. And amidst all the false starts that are oh-so-common now, they remain patient and loving. “What are we gonna do with each other?” “What would we do  without  each other?”  Written by  Cary Peppers from USA, featuring Owain James as Carlton and Ann Elbourne as Lauretta. Music is by Kiran Pradhan.

With Aishveryaa  the audience gets a wonderful touch and a glimpse of India through this Short + Sweet Theatre Festival platform which is a great Indian contribution really to theatre in the mainstream here.

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