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Tendulkar's defiant plays dissected human nature
May 19, 2008 17:16 IST
Armed with a rare insight into human nature and courage of conviction, noted playwright Vijay Tendulkar, who passed away on Monday, mercilessly dissected social aberrations with particular emphasis on the baser instincts in man that shocked the orthodox Marathi theatre.
His ceaseless experimentation with theatre and unconventional portrayal of characters in the plays he wrote created storms not only in literary circles but also saw strong social reactions stemming from the charge of obscenity and hurting the sensitivities of certain classes.
Tendulkar's most controversial plays-- Ghasiram Kotwal and Sakharam Binder -- stirred a hornet's nest in Maharashtra after it was staged in 1972.
In Ghasiram Kotwal, it was the controversial depiction of the historical character of Nana Phadanvis, a revered statesman during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra, which angered Brahmins and led to a series of protests.
The troupe of Ghashiram Kotwal, a play with a novel mix of dance and music, directed by noted director Dr Jabbar Patel, faced violent protests from the audience that targeted the artistes. The crowd even threw eggs and tomatoes in theatre halls to stop the performances.
Tendulkar, however, was never apologetic over the characterisation of Nana, who was portrayed as a lecher hunting for women, and had the last laugh when the play was acclaimed internationally for its innovative content and presentation.
Tendulkar's plays unfailingly challenged the accepted concepts and norms pertaining to morality in society and brought to the fore the hidden cruelty and lust in the human psyche, exposing the hypocrisy that covered it.
It was former Lok Sabha Speaker and Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi who was in the forefront of the anti-Ghasiram agitation in Mumbai as the party stopped the staging of the play in the metropolis in 1971-72.
In Pune, protests marked the staging of the drama with allegations that it insulted the Brahmin community and maligned its culture.
Unperturbed, Tendulkar maintained that he was entitled to freedom of expression and that though the character of Nana had a historical base, the treatment was fictional.
The detractors of Tendulkar even approached the Bombay High Court to prevent the Ghasiram troupe from going abroad to stage performances on invitation but did not succeed in getting a favourable verdict.
The play, which presented a unique synchronization of collective movements of scores of actors, has been translated into various languages and staged in theatres all over the country.
A similar controversy arose when Tendulkar came out with Sakharam Binder, inviting the charge of obscene presentation.
Eminent stage and film actor Nilu Phule played the role of the protagonist from a lower strata of society. The play had a scene that showed the female character suffering a miscarriage after being subjected to cruel treatment at the hands of Binder, who had total disregard for moral, social and cultural norms.