Theatre Speaks

Hridaynath Jadhav
Actor, Marathi and Hindi Theatre
[Marathi and Hindi Theatre ]

Which is the last best play you saw?

The last best play I saw was SAMAJSWASTHYA directed by Atul Pethe. It is based on the life of the social activist Ragunath Dhondo Karve in the early twentieth century, played by Atul Pethe himself.

Your favourite 'adda' to see a play

I enjoy watching plays at Prithvi as I like the ambience and the acoustics of the place. The actors as well as the cast get a different dimension in Prithvi.

Your favourite playwright

Though there are many playwrights that I am fond of, like Girish Karnard, my favourite playwright is Vijay Tendulkar.

Your favourite play-character

Since I have been working in plays for many years now, it's very difficult to choose one character. But for now I can think of the same play SAMAJSWASTHYA whose character Raghunath Dhondo Karke wanted to bring about a change in society. He wanted to give people a sex education and explored ideas of family planning and sexual frustration, topics that were completely taboo in his times. There is another play called ANAND OWARI, again directed by Atul Pethe, which focuses on Saint Tukaram's brother Kanoba. The play describes the journey and the thoughts of Kanoba as he goes to find Tukaram, who in his deep devotion to God would wander away from home. So the play talks of one such wandering and we also get Kanoba's perspective.

A play you would like to see filmed. Why?

No, I have never felt that a particular play should be made into a film. But there are stories that I would like to see as films or as plays.

A novel/short story you would like to see on stage? Why?

There are many stories of Rajan Khan that I would like to see as plays because I really enjoy the way he analyses the minds of his characters. It makes you think and explore your own mind and analyze other people as well.

The most hilarious play you have seen

Recently i have seen very few comedy plays but I liked the classic play VASTRAHARAN directed by Machindra Kambli and written by Gangaram Gavankar. But earlier there were quite a few Marathi comedies. Now there are few.

A play, which is over-hyped

There are many such plays in Marathi and a few in Hindi as well. Nowadays there are hardly plays that are sensible. The others are usually overrated, though I would not like to take any names.

An important play (but ignored)

Yes, there's a play called JAMBHOL AKHYAAN written by Suresh Chikle and directed by Ajit Bhagat in which Vithal Umap, a very popular folk singer, used to work. The play was based on an episode from the Mahabharata. Vithal Umap played Draupadi even when he was 70 -80 years old. The acting and the writing were very good. It was a simple enough story but it was staged beautifully in the traditional style of the Maharashtrian folk ritual of Gondhal but it was not very known outside the Marathi theatre circle. I have always thought that this play should be produced in Hindi as well and it should be shown outside Maharashtra and on the international stage. I think it should have been a little more famous than it is has been.

A play character you would like to "dialogue" with

I would enjoy having a dialogue with any of the characters from Vijay Tendulkar's plays. I would especially like to dialogue with Sakharam Binder, the protagonist in the play SAKHARAM BINDER, which was famously directed by Kamlakar Sarang.

A passage from an important play that you can recite

From one of our own plays called COTTON 56 POLYESTER 84, directed by Sunil Shanbag, and written by Ramu Ramanathan, which was about the erstwhile mill workers of Mumbai. The two mill workers in the play would smoke and sing together, "Ye Humari Anth Ki Shuruat Thi, ...Aur Anth Main Hi Kahin Shuru Chupa Hota Hai Aur Shuru Main hi Kahin Anth Chupa Hota Hai" (this was the beginning of our end...and the beginning is hidden in the end and the end is hidden in the beginning). You may think it's all over but in reality it may have just begun or you may think that something has started but it may have already ended.

A classical play that you should have read

I recently read ASHADH KA EK DIN by Mohan Rakesh and I cursed myself after reading it as to why I hadn't read it earlier. I wanted to see a production but could not see it. I haven't read any other works of Mohan Rakesh either. So I am still cursing myself.

A play that changed your perception about the theatre

The play SAMAJSWASTHYA directed by Atul Pethe, MARRIAGE-OLOGY directed by Sunil Shanbag and Sapan Saran and CHANDRAPYR CHYA JUNGALAT by Chetan Datar.

How do you regard the Mumbai theatre scene?

Since I am of an earlier generation which had a very different attitude towards theatre, I do not see much of an authentic theatre and drama today. Maybe I feel this because in my time we were very serious about what we did. Now good theatrical works are very few and the energy is also missing. The drama goes amiss somewhere. But there is still theatre in which people focus on music and physical theatre. I don't know if the old texts have become redundant or whether we not able to find new texts and new perspectives. But these days I see that the very essence of theatre and drama is missing and something is lacking.

Have you read any interesting books/articles concerning the theatre? Why did you find them interesting?

I have not read much on theatre but I do have some books on my agenda.

If you have ever been a part of a theatre production/s, can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous?

No such incident as such. While doing a play you definitely experiment with new techniques but there is no particular incident that I remember.

Can you think of a foreign production that you found remarkable? Why?

I haven't seen many foreign productions but there is a particular play based on the Ramayana called THE LEGEND OF RAM: PRINCE OF INDIA directed and scripted by Amir Raza Husain that I have only seen a coverage of and I liked it a lot. Shekhar Suman featured in it and the railway tracks were converted into an auditorium. The play was held within a radius of 1-2 kilometers and the audience would watch the play while moving in a chair car.

Your favourite director/actor/music or set designer

My favourite directors now are Sunil Shanbag and Atul Pethe. Set designer would be Vivek Kadhav.

A significant Indian production that you may have witnessed

I liked Atul Pethe's SAMAJSWASTHYA and also his SATYASHODHAK written by G P Deshpande in particular, but I have liked all his productions in general.

Life in the theatre without the humble batata-wada or the cutting chai... or can you recall the best gastronomic experience you've had in the precincts of the theatre to date?

I used to be part of an inter-collegiate drama team and we used to stay back for long hours. So for lunch we always had a Vada Pav and Chai. So for the 4-5 years that I was part of the team we used to sustain ourselves the whole day with only one Vada Pav and Chai. It was our meal and it probably still is for inter-collegiate drama students. You would eat it happily. So I have an attachment towards the cutting chai and Vada Pav commonly associated with our theatre.
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