They say old is gold, and it is especially true for Marathi theatre, which has been going back to the established scripts time and again. While other regional languages are seeing young playwrights making inroads into a scene long dominated by adaptations of established scripts, Marathi theatre scene still relies on the good old scripts. Is the dearth of original and good scripts forcing them to opt for texts which are tried and tested?
Aniruddha Khutwad’s play Ek Rikkami Baju is an adaptation of Louise Page’s original English play Tissue, while Mister Behram is the Marathi adaptation of Gieve Patel’s play by the same name.
Khutwad says, “Till 2000, we had eminent people, who wrote good quality scripts, which are not written today. Though there are a handful of writers, who are writing but they are not good enough. So the director has to rely on the adaptations of established scripts.”
He credits legendary playwrights like Vijay Tendulkar, Satish Alekar and Mahesh Elkunchwar, who were dedicated to theatre, for good scripts. “But today, except for playwrights like Makrand Sathe, Atul Pethe and Abhiram Bhadamkar, there are hardly any writers who are serious about theatre. The new breed of writers look at theatre as a stepping stone for television and films,” adds Khutwad.
Pune-based theatre group Aasakta has recently staged many plays which were adapted from literary pieces. For instance, Tichi 17 Prakarne is an adaptation of the English play Attempts On Her Life by Martin Crimp, while Gajab Kahani is an adaptation of the novel, The Elephant’s Journey, written by Nobel laureate Jose Saramago. Another play by Aasakta, The Little Prince was an adaptation of the novel Le Petit Prince and Necropolis was a theatrical presentation of an article by Elkunchwar.
Theatre director Mohit Takalkar says, “There isn’t a dearth of new scripts in Marathi theatre. At this year’s Vinod Doshi Theatre festival, four writers were commissioned to write brand new plays.
However, getting literature from another language and translating it into a theatrical form (in Marathi) is always a welcome change.” But Takalkar cautions that the original should not be tampered with.
Many a times the scripts are adapted from classic plays, or novels, or popular stories, or even newspaper articles. Director Nipun Dharmadhikari’s Dalan is an adaptation of a story written by noted writer Da Ma Mirasdar, while Cycle is based on a story written by Vyankatesh Madgulkar. Aaskata’s children’s play Junglenama is also a stage adaptation of a story by Gulzar from his book Raavi Paar.
Prasad Vanarase, who has directed more than 50 Marathi plays calls it the effects of globalisation, which are reflecting in theatre as well. “Ten years ago, plays by veteran Indian playwrights like Girish Karnad were adapted in various regional languages because classic English plays and novels were not easily available,” says Vanarase, who founded the group Abhijaat Rangabhoomi. “Now, Marathi directors are looking at literature from across the world. Young directors are using various other formats like novels, poems, articles, to translate into theatrical expression,” he adds.