Corona crisis hastens closure of arts organisation

Sanjna Kapoor, Sameera Iyengar, junoon theatre, coronavirus covid 19, coronavirus india news updates

Sanjna Kapoor (left) with Sameera Iyengar (Express photo by Pradip Das)

A MONTH after Junoon, an arts organisation set up by theatre personalities Sanjna Kapoor and Sameera Iyengar, celebrated its eight-year journey and second birthday on February 29, its founders announced its closure in an official statement on Tuesday.

“With a heavy heart, we would want to share the news with you about Junoon’s closure. At this point in time, it is an emotional phase for Sanjna and Sameera as they are winding up the operations and are tying up all loose ends. They would be taking this time off to recalibrate about how they would like to contribute to the field of arts in the future,” the statement read.

In 2002, Kapoor and Iyengar formed Junoon with the aim of taking theatre and arts closer to people across India. In a joint statement, Kapoor and Iyengar said: “Over the last eight years, we have worked to share the arts in various ways with people in Mumbai and across India. It’s been an amazing journey, and we’ve loved working with artists and cultural practitioners across the spectrum to bring the ras of the arts to people. Underlying this work that we love so much, has been the constant struggle to keep Junoon going — a struggle we knew we would have in a country where there is little support and infrastructure for the arts.”

Even though financial struggle was weighing Junoon down, the current global health crisis seems to have hastened its closure. “The current global scenario has shaken us. As you can imagine, the fragile existence of an arts organisation such as Junoon, has left us with little options but to graciously call it a day. It is with sadness that we have decided to close Junoon to ensure we do not undergo any more insurmountable losses,” their statement read. The next few months will see Junoon working towards closure.

Kapoor stepped down as the director of Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai, in April 2011. Later that year, she announced plans of forming Junoon with the aim of bringing back the culture of touring theatre groups in India. She was keen to follow the legacy of her maternal grandparents, who were the forces behind Shakespeareana Company, a travelling theatre group, as well as of her paternal grandfather, actor Prithviraj Kapoor, who ran a touring theatre company called Prithvi Theatre.

Junoon held art addas called ‘Mumbai Local’ thrice a month and ran an immersive programme called ‘Arts at Play with Schools’, many capacity building workshops and interactions apart from holding theatre performances for the young audience. Thanking the artistic community, Kapoor and Iyengar said: “Everything we have done has come to life because of the generosity and openness of our artists’ community, who have stepped forward each time to try new ideas and give their time, creativity and passion.”