Nurturing Hindi culture

Cheeky boy: Imperfectly Frank, a Short and Sweet play starring Rickardo Wesley and Aishveryaa Nidhi.
Cheeky boy: Imperfectly Frank, a Short and Sweet play starring Rickardo Wesley and Aishveryaa Nidhi.

THE Sidhu family want to arrange a marriage with the Jaswanis.

The only concern is there are some ethical problems that need to be worked out. But in the end love prevails in true Bollywood style.

The St George-based Abhinay School of Performing Arts is presenting this play, Imperfectly Frank, in Short and Sweet, said to be the biggest short play festival in the world, and due to finish at the end of March.

Most of the plays are performed at the King Street Theatre, Newtown.

For the school's founder Aishveryaa Nidhi, the festival provides another chance to promote Hindi culture and show off St George talent.

Ms Nidhi, of Blakehurst, was a professional actor back home in Delhi with 25 plays and 10 films in her resume.

When the family, including three children, moved to Australia in 2000, Ms Nidhi missed her acting career very much.

She put her energy into the family and used her business management qualification to help with her husband's IT business.

In the meantime she noticed that her children, especially the youngest, were loosing their Hindi language skills.

By 2005 she was ready to give her children and people from the Indian subcontinent somewhere to go to experience their own culture.

"I chose theatre as the medium to learn Hindi," Ms Nidhi said.

She brought in a director from India, rehearsed for 400 hours to perfect a one-hour monologue in which she played 14 characters. Performed at the NIDA theatre, it was a huge success.

The same director came out the following year and 30 aspiring actors turned up for the workshops to learn to perform Chekhov in Hindi at the Marana Theatre, Hurstville.

Abhinay, which means "the art of expression" was formalised in 2009 and since then more than 200 people have been trained in dancing, acting, writing plays and directing. And all without charge, although Ms Nidhi hopes the company will break even eventually.

Every year Abhinay presents a festival of Hindi plays to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. And every year it takes part in Short and Sweet.

Along with other short plays, Perfectly Frank can be seen on February 20-24 at the King Street Theatre, Newtown.

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