ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE!

Posted: November 18, 2011 in News, The NamoLeague Times
Tags: , , , ,

Enthusiasts recently got together to revive an art that Gujarat boasts of – Theatre. The day was 27th March that has been celebrated as the World Theatre Day since 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).

In the olden days, theatre was the only source of entertainment for the rural public. A makeshift stage and a curtain, a couple of artists and the entire village would buzz with enthusiasm. While for the city audience, it always has been a curio. Today, the scenario has changed. People have become the slaves of other forms of media. To preserve the Gujarati theatre, we need to know how rich and varied its history in Gujarat has been.

THE START OF GUJARATI THEATRE

The theatre art is more than 155 years old in Gujarat. The Gujarati play Rustom, Jabuli and Sorab, which is based on the popular dramatic tale of Shah Nama, is considered as the beginning of Gujarati theatre. It was staged at the Grant Road Theatre of Bombay on October 29, 1853.

The theatre did not have original plays needed to have an identity of its own. This compelled the famous Gujarati poet, Umashankar Joshi to make a scornful comment. In 1953, when the centenary of Gujarati theatre was celebrated, he said, “this is a wedding procession without the groom.”

There have been very less changes in the Gujarati theatre. However, the Parsi dramatic companies laid the modern Gujarati theatre’s foundation in the late 1980s. These theatre companies brought western techniques and themes as well as music to form a renewed vernacular theatre. In the modern Gujarati theatre, issues like bride price, witches, women’s health, alcoholism, vaccination etc. are raised.

COMPETITIONS KEEP THE THEATRE THROBBING

Due to the onset of mainstream media like the television and films, theatre took a backseat. Few actors and fewer experiments take place in this form of art. Also, the performers who start out anxious to do something different lose no time in joining the mainstream at the first opportunity. The writers and directors associated with such movements do not happen to be so closely associated with theatre that they can be relied upon to continue to provide challenging plays.

A ray of hope in the dark future of the theatre art is the intercollegiate and other competitions. They have always been the source of emerging, new talents. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Bombay) and the former Bombay State Competitions held between 1950 and 1960 provided the majority of the works that served as the foundations of the Gujarati theatre.

THE STARS OF GUJARATI THEATRE

These competitions provided most of the projects to the professional Gujarati theatre. And many personalities were born out of such programs who infused life into the art. Pravin Joshi, Vijay Dutt and Kanti Madia were launched in the 1953 competition. In the same way, some of the intercollegiate competitions organized by the Indian National Theatre in 1975-78 gave break to the talents like Mahendra Joshi, Paresh Raval, Mukesh Raval, Siddharth Randeria, Homi Wadia, Sameer Khakhar, Nikita Shah, Sujata Mehta, Daisy Rani and Latesh Shah.
Competitions held in the late eighties and early nineties have produced Prakash Kapadia and Mihir Bhuta (writers), Rajesh Joshi (director), Piyush-Taufik (music directors), Manoj Joshi, Tushar Joshi, Jamnadas Majithia, Bakul Thakkar, Shefali Shetty and Sejal Shah (performers) who went on to prove their abilities on the professional stage.

Senior and popular artistes like Jaya Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha also ventured in the famous Gujarati theatre production house named the Sanjay Goradia Production.
The new Gujarati theatre has got some of the finest actors like Deena Gandhi-Pathak, Anasuya Sutaria, Nalini Mehta, Jashvant Thakkar, Dhananjay Thakkar, Krinalal, Khasrani, Kailash Pandya, Markand Bhatt, Urmila Bhatt, Pranasukh Nayak, Jyoti Vaidya and many others. One of the most versatile Gujarati actresses is Sarita Joshi, who has dominated the new Gujarati theatre for the longest time. One more talented Gujarati dancer and actress is Mallika Sarabhai, who made her name for the role of Draupadi in the world famous playwright Peter Brooke’s ‘Mahabharata’.

Among others, the audience has loved the performances of actors like Siddharth Randeria, Feroz Bhagat, Dilip Joshi, Tiku Talsania, Padmarani and Apara Mehta in the Gujarati theatres.

FORESEEABLE FUTURE

In the 21st century, films and TV have taken over the field of entertainment. But the Gujarati theatre has not lost its charm yet. Though the flow of the plays has slowed down and changes have to be made to match with the tastes of the audiences, the Gujarati theatre has survived along with the new style.

But not only have the sets, lights and other technical departments gone poor, but also the standard of direction and acting is quite low. The Government academies are indifferent to this matter. Also, the talented artists on the Gujarati stage are not willing to face strife in order to chase a vision of theatre for their artistic satisfaction.

So much is the strength of the Gujarati theatre that it is said that a Gujarati play named ‘Harishchandra’ influenced the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi very much.

The Gujarati theatre has inspired thinking of the people, created social awareness and national spirit during the pre-independence days. Gujarati people’s love to patronize their mother-tongue plays has marked the place of Gujarati theatre in the World theatres through its colorful representation of the plays. May this art see hundreds of such World Theatre Days!

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=All%20The%20Worlds%20a%20Stage!_566

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s