Prayas, The Endeavour
What happens when a bunch of Indians in New Zealand decide to tackle the cultural stereotype of Bollywood films and colourful song and dance routines that everyone associates with them?
They endeavour to change this outlook by introducing lesser known aspects of Indian culture to mainstream and Indian audiences. They share their stories, creativity and culture through theatre. They form Prayas. Prayas means to try; to attempt; to endeavour and hence to challenge perceptions.
The group Prayas started in 2005 with the intention of producing Indian plays in English. Prayas's first production, Charandas Chor, a story about a lovable thief written by Habib Tanvir, was first performed by folk artists from the Chhatisgarh region of India and is a contemporary Indian classic.
Launching Prayas was not easy. Not many sponsors were attracted to the idea of Indian entertainment other than Bollywood. Few understood the concept of folk theatre or any Indian theatre - but Prayas persevered and won over audiences. Not only did multicultural audiences watch the play but it also excited a generation of Indians born in New Zealand to explore the vastness and possibilities of Indian culture.
For Spectrum, Sapna Samant speaks to Amit, Sudeepta and Nilanjan of Prayas to see what inspired them to start the group, why they wanted to cross over Indian stories and creativity to other cultures, the difficulties of producing Charandas Chor and what plans they have for Prayas.