Theatre Group, Sri Venkateswara Surabhi Theatre, Hyderabad, Is Moving Online With A Month-long Programme

Thirty days, 9 performs and 180 reveals — a deal with awaits theatre lovers as the enduring Sri Venkateswara Surabhi Theatre walks the digital streaming route. The month-long streaming occasion options two pre-recorded movies of its widespread performs every day, with performs akin to Mayabazar, Jai Pathala Bhairavi, Bhakta Prahlada, Sri Krishna Leelalu, Sri Venkateswara Udbhavam and Balanagamma amongst them. The 136-year-old household theatre group collaborates with BookMyShow for this digital chapter.

Struggling to make ends meet, extra so in the course of the pandemic, members of the Surabhi household troupe switched to the digital platform in 2020 and offered round 15 performs by way of Zoom and Facebook Live. Jaya Chandra, a scion of the Surabhi household says, “Producer Shobu Yarlagadda (CEO, Arka Media) sent a team to initiate us into the digital platform. Since the plays were live, we faced a few technical glitches and the video quality was not up to the mark.”

Jaya Chandra considered a ‘Dranima’ an idea shared by Mamidi Harikrishna, Director, Department of Culture and Language, Telangana Government that goals to create a ‘cinema experience’ for Telugu natakam (drama) viewers.

“He [Harikrishna] wondered if we could shoot plays with a green matte background so that it can be broadcast across villages. That didn’t happen but we picked up online streaming from that idea,” remembers Jaya Chandra including how Achyuth Nagubothu (assistant supervisor, BookMyShow) gave the technical help and likewise guided them on designing visually engaging posters.

Three excessive definition cameras had been arrange at their house in February at Lingampally, Hyderabad, and the video and modifying had been dealt with by Sanjiv Patel and the group. Around 30 years in the past, the then Andhra Pradesh Government allotted homes to Surabhi artistes at Lingampally, which was named Surabhi Colony.

Adapting To A New Norm

During the pandemic, greater than 50 households vacated their properties at Public Gardens and shifted to Surabhi colony. Since the Colony is near a loud railway observe, the taking pictures would happen after 9 pm when the evening fell silent. A two hour-play staged by seasoned theatre artists needed to be shot for six hours owing to quite a few retakes and close-ups for the digital medium. Actors learnt to adapt by making use of much less make-up than what they usually do for a daily play, and the lighting was enhanced with 10 LED lights.

Jaya Chandra remembers how the filming created a full of life environment on the set. “An artiste’s wig came off during a scene in Bhakta Prahlada and the five-minute scene had to be shot again. If that had happened during a live show, the audience would have laughed and the play would still have continued.”

The group spent ₹5 lakh for the web train together with artists’ remuneration. Their readiness to adapt to the newer format and self-discipline is what made it potential, believes Jaya Chandra. “Our performances never depended on the audience; we had the same energy and enthusiasm, whether it was for a single person or 100 people in the audience. Our performance has remained the same in front of a camera too.”

He hopes this digital experiment will create extra curiosity in Telugu natakam. “Surabhi theatre lovers can watch the performance from anywhere in the world. Depending on the response, we can have new plays every month with newer themes. The next generation of Surabhi members can explore this virtual option.”


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