Bharat Dabholkar
BLAME IT ON YASHRAJ has just had its 100th show. We speak to Bharat Dabholkar, the man behind the production; a man of various talents, who also unabashedly created his own, popular idiom of theatre that we call ''Hinglish''.

 By Deepa Punjani

Deepa Punjani (DP): Who was Bharat Dabholkar before he became the famous adman and the maker of the 'Hinglish' theatre comedy? What were the early days like?

Bharat Dabholkar (BD): I did my schooling in a Marathi medium school. I later graduated with Honours in Economics and Sociology/Anthropology and got a Degree in Law with specialisation in the interpretation of Law. There was Business Management Training at Forbes, with Forbes Campbell and allied companies. I joined Dacunha as a copy writer and for client servicing. Here I got chance to start writing plays. I did a ''Hinglish'' skit, which I did for the annual awards function of the Advertisting Club of India. This was in 1980 I think.

DP: Sylvester DaCunha played a prominent role in shaping your advertising career, which also let you experiment with copy that blended Hindi and English words with a "Bambaiya" twist. Were these the beginnings of a theatre that you felt audiences could identify with?

BD: Yes, absolutely. I first got to write for Amul Butter hoardings in ''Hinglish'' along with Sylvester. I also wrote parts for his own plays like I LOVE MUMBAI and IT'S NOT FUNNY. My first play was a ''Hinglish'' adaption of a play by P L Deshpande called TUZEY AHEY TUJA PASHI, called IT'S ALL YOUR JANAB with regional actors.

DP: When you look back on those days, which are the memories that you most fondly recall?

BD: New experiences in advertising for client servicing, copy writing, etc. Since then everyday has been fun. So I don't have one or two specific memories that I'm fond of, but many.

DP: Did you watch many plays as you found your own idiom?

BD: No, I don't see plays at all. I only watch if my play's actors are in a certain play and we are going after his play is winding up. The reason is I get very impressed by other works in the theatre industry and feel inferior to write the kind of play I would like to write. So better I avoid watching them.

DP: Did you ever feel that you could give Marathi theatre a shot with your kind of themes? After all it is a popular theatre too with a mass audience...

BD: Marathi theatre has some brilliant writers and directors. I won't get a place there with the kind of content I write. English and ''Hinglish'' has very few original writers in India. So at least I can think of presenting my kind of plays.

DP: Any playwrights who have inspired you?

BD: I'm a huge admirer of PL Deshpande. His level of humour is brilliant and relevant even today. Even now if I listen to his audio plays I crack up.

DP: You act as well. You act in your present play BLAME IT ON YASHRAJ. Is it something you like to do as much as you write and direct?

BD: I like to write and direct because I'm a lousy actor. I prefer to choose the smaller role if I could be any use, or else I take brilliant actors to do justice to the characters that I imagine.

DP: Bharat Dabholkar has a personality. He is a man known to do "crazy" things such as buying a second-hand auto, and driving it to work. This larger than life image permeates in your work too. Is there another side to you?

BD: I like to have fun without spending too much money. The other side that people don't know much about is that I'm an introvert. I don't like much talking or hanging out with people. I have a small group of friends and I prefer to stick to them most of the time if I'm in public, or else I prefer spending time alone.

Deepa Punjani is the Editor of this website.

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