Ramu Ramanathan Interview With Deepa Punjani
Playwright Ramu Ramanathan was recently awarded the NDTV-Serendipity Arts’ “Arts Spectrum” award in the Performing Arts category. He was selected among three finalists by a jury. The playwright who has also recently published a poetic piece titled ‘My Encounters with a Peacock’, is among the foremost playwrights of Indian English theatre in the country and has several plays to his credit for which he has received other honours as well. He has been a great supporter of protest performance and protest music groups such as the Kabir Kala Manch, and for many young people in the theatre whom he continues to mentor and inspire.

 By Deepa Punjani

Deepa Punjani (DP): What will the Peacock of Dharampur say about the award?

(The “Peacock” here refers to the one and only peacock of its kind encountered by Ramu in Dharampur and which inspired his first set of published poetry)

Ramu Ramanathan (RR): He would say I don't deserve it.

DP: Your one moment during the award ceremony...

RR: I gushed on stage when I met Raveesh Kumar. I think he thought I am a village idiot.

DP: What was your first reaction when you heard from NDTV?

RR: I got an email from the Serendipity Arts and NDTV team. I thought some journalist friends of mine are pulling my leg.

DP: What do you think of the trophy?

RR: Parts of it are made of cement. The money is genuinely handy. There are many lost causes in Maharashtra that I support.

DP: What did you make of the Awards Night?

RR: There was a preview of Meera Nair's ‘Monsoon Wedding’. A musical which she is directing. Plus one got to see the work of the finalists in other disciplines. Quite impressive.

DP: Which among your plays is special to you?

RR: Omkar Govardhan who played Jyotiba Phule in SATYASHODAK and performs MAHADEVBHAI in Marathi is translating COMRADE KUMBHAKARNA. Following his process is a lot of fun.

DP: Which of your plays you would quote from and what would that be?

RR: None. Except for the one line in each play that I have plagiarised from Samuel Beckett.

DP: If you had to write a note to your favourite writers (not necessarily alive) and let them know about the award, who would they be?

RR: Vijay Tendulkar and GP Deshpande.

If you could pass on the award, which playwright would you choose?

RR: Satish Alekar. His MAHANIRVAN and BEGUM BARVE are gems.

DP: Which plays do you have by your bedside?

RR: A collection of Jon Fosse, who is the 21st century Ibsen; Ronald Schimmelpfennig's plays; and Bhasa's URUBHANGAM.

DP: A recent play that impressed you?

RR: It's not a play but the number of one act plays that have been staged across Maharashtra as part of the Loksatta newspaper competition. Very commendable.

DP: Your view on cine plays?

RR: I saw Santosh Sivan's version of George Buchner's WOYZECK and found it engrossing.

DP: New talent that has impressed you ...

RR: I like the recent projects by Yuki Ellias and Puja Sarup. Some of the underground music scene in Mumbai is brilliant.

DP: One production that blew your brain…

RR: KHASAK ITHIHASAM. This stage adaptation of Vijayan's novel by Deepan Sivaraman must be made compulsory viewing for all theatrewallahs. I liked Vijay Nikam's intriguing one act, BAAP KI ADALAT.

*Deepa Punjani is the editor of this website.

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