Usha Ganguli, Kolkata, India
Usha Ganguli has established herself as one of India’s major directors, leading the theatre group Rangakarmee for over thirty nine years now. Till today, she remains essentially an activist who loves to take on challenging subjects and seeks to grow in the process. Her artistic growth as a director has been rooted in a concern to react and respond to all those forces that inhibit humanity.
Trained as a dancer in Bharatnatyam, she brings choreographic and physical skills to her work in theatre as director and actress, enriched by her scholarly and literary sensibilities and insights. This is evident in works like Mahabhoj (1984), Lok Katha (1987), Holi (1989), Court Martial (1991), Rudali (1992), Himmat Mai (1998), Mukti (1999), Shobhayatra (2000), Kashinama (2003), and her latest trilogy woven around the life and works of Saadat Hasan Manto. Rangakarmee, the theatre group that she set up in 1976, remains the most active and prolific group performing in Hindi in India, travelling extensively through the country, with visits to Germany, USA, Pakistan and Bangladesh. She participated in South Asian Theater Festival, 2007 as a Director of most acclaimed production Rudali in Hindi. Her achievements in and contribution to Indian theatre have been recognized in the form of numerous awards, including the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1998), and several awards from the West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh State Academies. She is at present Member of the Executive Committee of the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi, the West Bengal State Natya Akademi, the Society of the National School of Drama, and the Rabindra Bharati Court.
Mahesh Dattani, Mumbai, India
Mahesh Dattani is a renowned playwright, stage director, screenwriter and filmmaker. He graduated in Bachelor of Arts from Bangalore University in 1981 and subsequently did a post-graduate diploma in Marketing and Advertising Management.His published works include FINAL SOLUTIONS AND OTHER PLAYS, TARA, A COLLECTED WORKS edition in two volumes published by Penguin India and BRIEF CANDLE AND OTHER PLAYS and most recently ME AND MY PLAYS also by Penguin.
In 1998 Mahesh Dattani won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for his book FINAL SOLUTIONS AND OTHER PLAYS, the highest award for a literary work in the country. Mahesh is the first playwright writing in English to receive this award. Today his plays are produced in all the major cities of India. His works have been produced in cities outside the country as well including London, Leicester, New York, Washington DC, Sydney, Colombo, Toronto and Dubai. Some of his plays have been translated and performed in Hindi, Gujarati, German, Japanese, Nepali, Oriya and Kannada. Most notably, his play Dance Like a Man had 550 performances and continues to tour. His film Mango Souffle (writer and director) was shown in several international film festivals all over the world and was adjudged best motion picture at the Barcelona Film Festival 2003.
Hafiz Karmali, Paris, France
Hafiz Karmali is a Director/Designer, Performer, Translator. Last summer, Hafiz directed two plays in New York City at the South Asian International Festival: Post Office by Rabindranath Tagore, one of India's finest poets, and Invasion! by Jonas Hassen Khemiri. The latter production won three awards including Best Director. In the Fall of 2014, Hafiz staged Conference of the Birds at the Brandeis University Theatre Department and conducted a drama workshop/performance of Rumi Vaudevilles at the Ismaili Centre courtyard in Dubai. In 2013, Mr. Karmali's encounter with South Asian performing artists based in New York led to M.A.D. Playhouse's production of Half-Hearted by Mohan Rakesh at the historical Off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre. Hafiz directed War & Peace, an anti-war farce by Tawfiq al-Hakim and Rumi x 7 = Tales from the Masnavi in circus style with clowns and acrobats at the ReOrient 2012 Festival held by Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco.
To commemorate the Aga Khan's golden jubilee as spiritual leader, Hafiz co-wrote, designed and directed an international touring theatre production, Ali to Karim – A Tribute to the Ismaili Imams. At the ReOrient Festival in 2009, Hafiz directed three new plays (Abaga by Torange Yeghiazarian; The Review (a Skype play) and an Egyptian adaptation of Chekhov's The Marriage Proposal by Yussef el-Guindi. Hafiz was also a member of a panel on theatre and peace-building.
Anand Rao, New Jersey
A bi-lingual writer, actor, director, a part-time academic and management consultant; Anand's professional career spans a wide range of fields from advertising creative and journalism to corporate communications, organizational development, and higher education. Born and raised in Bangalore, India, he has played prominent roles in over 50 theater productions in English and his native language Kannada.
As a television actor, he was seen in daily soaps on regional television in Kannada with popular award-winning directors. Kannada TV fans still recognize him as the villainous 'Prabhakar' of popular TV series "Manvantara" by T.N. Seetaram that ran on E-TV Kannada in the early 2000s. More recently, while in Salt Lake City, Utah, among others he played the role of Tiger Sher Khan in Utah Children’s Theater’s production of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. A strong proponent of social justice, multi-cultural theater and performing arts, he has worked closely with many multi-ethnic performing arts groups in Utah, New York, and New Jersey, directing plays, hosting stage shows, training children, writing scripts and offering strategic advice to individuals and companies. Anand has an M.B.A. from the Westminster College, and Graduate Certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications from the University of Utah, in addition to M.A., in English Literature, and advanced studies in journalism and public relations from Universities in India. As he continues working on taking A Muslim in the Midst to more places, he is wrapping up the manuscript for another play 'Deadlock' and 'The Spice Trail Scrolls' a musical based on Panchatantra, the ancient Indian collection of fables.
Shubhra Prakash, New York
Shubhra Prakash is an actor, singer, voice over artist, theatre maker and short filmmaker. She has resided in Kolkata, New Delhi, San Francisco Bay Area and now in New York City. Shubhra served as a voiceover artist for Priya’s Shakti, a multi-platform project supported by Tribeca New Media fund. She wrote, directed and produced a play “For Our Own” at the Planet Connections Theatre Festival 2014 for which she received the Activist Award for getting a great deal of involvement from the South Asian Marrow Association of Recruiters. She served as festival director of the company’s South Asian International Performing Arts Festival in its inaugural year 2015. As an actor she just completed the workshop reading of Monsoon Wedding the Musical as the lead, Aditi Verma. She has acted in Hypokrit Theatre Company’s Romeo & Juliet as Mercutio, in The Tempest Ladies’ Taming of the Shrew. She also serves as co-founder of Random Fox Productions, her short Funny Faces was the Top 10 picks of Asian American Lab’s 72 hour shootout. Her short film, Three Dates – a short film, which she wrote, directed and produced, was screened at New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) 13′.
Sudipta Bhawmik, New Jersey
Sudipta Bhawmik is a noted playwright and director and has written several plays in Bengali and English. Sudipta’s plays tell the story of immigrant Bengali life and this has been his unique contribution to Bengali Theater. Sudipta’s plays tell the stories of the struggles and contradictions of first generation Bengali immigrants, and of their children and their divided loyalties. This has inspired several theater scholars to cite his plays in their scholarly work about diasporic theater. His plays have been staged in USA, UK, Bangladesh and Kolkata, India, and have been translated and produced in several Indian languages like Hindi, Marathi and English. In New Jersey his plays have received full production at the Edison Valley Playhouse, staged readings at Villager’s Theatre and Somerset Valley Players. His play “Satyameva” (Truth Only) is now in production by “Theater Workshop” a leading theater company in Kolkata. His plays have won several awards at different festivals in India as well as in USA and Canada. He received training in acting and directing at the “Panchamved Charyashram” a theater school in Calcutta, and had the privilege of training under the stalwarts of Bengali theater like Sombhu Mitra, Tripti Mitra, Saoli Mitra, Mohit Chattopadhya and others. He also received training from the famous playwright and director Badal Sircar at many of his workshops. Sudipta also acted in a principal character role in Mira Nair’s film “The Namesake,” and has written screenplays that are in various stages of pre-production.
At the 2002 Toronto International Bengali Drama competition, he received the special actor’s award for his performance in “Kabar,” and during the 2012 North America Bengali Conference the Cultural Association of Bengal (NY) awarded him with the “Distinguished Service Award” for his contribution towards promoting Bengali culture in North America.
Golam Sarwar Harun, NY,NJ
Harun, originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh, is a singer, actor, and director of plays, films and television commercials. Living in the US for the last several years, Harun has been highly active in the South Asian Community's theaters, with stellar performances in plays ranging from Bertolt Brecht’s 'Three Penny Opera' to Peter Weiss’ 'Marat-Sade', and Sudraka’s 'Mrichchakatikam', staged by Epic Actors' Workshop. He is also the Artistic Director of Dhaka Drama, a theatre group based in New York. His notable directorial work includes 'Michhe Kolahol', a collage of Tagore's plays performed at NJ and NY. Apart from his electrifying acting, Harun is also well-known for his deep melodious singing voice. This multitalented artist has acted in movies that include Mira Nair’s 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'.