Sultan Padamsee Award


After going through 64 entries from across the world, the first prize was a tie between authors Vineet Bhalla for ‘A Farming Story’ and Ramneek Singh for ‘Parvati’s Dark Children’. The award was presented by Theatre Director, Alyquee Padamsee. The runner up was author Faezeh Jalali for ‘Shikhandi: A story of the in-betweens’. The winners were given cash prizes of Rs. 3 lakhs. Farrokh Mehta, from the panel of judges, said “Choosing the winner was quite a task for the judges!”

Literature Live! in association with the Theatre Group has revived the quintessential Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting after a hiatus of 25 years*. The award, sponsored by the Theatre Group, will be presented to winners for the first time at the upcoming Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest, Mumbai’s biggest international literary festival taking place from November 17 to 20, 2016, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Nariman Point and the Prithvi Theatre, Juhu.

Poet, writer, artist, actor, producer, director and set designer as well; truly an artist of diversity — Sultan (Bobby) Padamsee, set a precedent for the modern day theatre. Bobby founded the Theatre Group, whose first production Macbeth, was staged as early as 1941. As a fitting tribute to this personality, in 1966 the Theatre Group instituted this award to recognise playwrights of Indian origin to encourage Indian English theatre. Gurcharan Das’s Larins Sahib, Gieve Patel’s Princes, Dina Mehta’s The Myth Maker, Cyrus Mistry’s Doongaji House and Ram Ganesh Kamatham’s Ultimate Kurukshetra have been among the prominent recipients of this award.

Nominations for the 2016 edition of the award have been received from across cities in India, namely Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, The Nilgiris, Palakkad, Shillong, Simla, Surat, Trivandrum, Visakhapatnam, Mansar and Pune, and also from across the world, including Ontario, Berlin, Dublin, Bristol, London and New Jersey. The shortlisted nominees for the prestigious award are:

  • Faezeh Jalali (Mumbai, India) for Shikhandi: A Story of the In-betweens
  • Vineet Bhalla (Dublin, Ireland) for A Farming Story
  • Satinder Chohan (London, UK) for Lotus Beauty
  • Ramneek Singh (Bengaluru, India) for Parvati’s Dark Children

The award will be presented by Padma Shri recipient, and theatre and advertising veteran, Alyque Padamsee, who is also the President of the Theatre Group. The winner will be declared at the festival and will receive a cash prize of INR 3,00,000, while the two runners- up will receive INR 25,000 each. In addition, scenes from the winning plays will be enacted for audiences at the festival.

* Instituted in 1966, the Sultan Padamsee Award continued being organised till the latter half of the ‘80s post which it came to an unfortunate halt. After a 20-year hiatus, the platform was brought back in 2011 by the Theatre Group only to be interrupted again, until now when it will be presented again on the Tata Literature Live! platform.

Founder and Festival Director, Anil Dharker, says, “For over a decade theatre producers and directors have been adapting foreign plays for Indian theatre. There has been a dearth of original English playwriting in India. The money is meagre and the exposure even lesser – creating a situation where there could be no hope of their work getting recognition – let alone be staged. Bringing the Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting on the Tata Literature Live! platform – the definitive platform for all things literary – raises the bar for not only the quality of playwriting we will attract but also the recognition that this platform will lend to the winner of this prestigious award.”

Dharker adds, “The Theatre Group has received 64 entries this year, from Indian playwrights from across the world. We are happy to host this prestigious award at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2016, and we hope that this will encourage aspiring playwrights and stimulate original English playwriting.” Reminiscing about his elder brother, Alyque Padamsee said, “My memories of Bobby are very few because as kids we saw very little of him in his short but brilliant life. I am afraid I never got to know him as a person (there was a 10 year gap) but only as a god- figure. At college, his reputation preceded me and I was respectfully referred to as Bobby Padamsee’s younger brother. To quote Shakespeare “He doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus, and we petty men walk under his huge legs, and peep about.”

The judges for the award were, Amal Allana, Chairperson of National School of Drama along with Farrokh Mehta, and Rajat Kapoor, well-known actors, and directors.