Sunday , 24 February 2019

Turning back time with theatre

Drama troupe Shri Damodar Prasadik Natyamandal has revived a Konkani translation of Marathi play ‘Lekure Udant Jhaali’ after four decades. NT BUZZ speaks to its director Ramchandra Pai Kane and the actors, who dedicate it to translator and director Prakash Thali



A Moment may go by quickly but memories of it last forever! Margao-based drama troupe Shri Damodar Prasadik Natyamandal has tried to re-live some unforgettable moments by re-staging a cherished drama. The Marathi play, ‘Lekure Udanda Jahali’ was translated into Konkani by writer and professor Prakash Thali, and was then called ‘Bhurgi Baalla Jallaa Mallaa’. It was recently performed by the troupe at the Zambaulim Shigmotsav, in fond memory of the translator Thali.

‘Lekure Udanda Jahali’ was written in 1966 by Vasant Kanetkar. Its first revival was in the 70’s by Mumbai-based The Goa Hindu Association, established as a charitable trust by a few Goans in Mumbai, who worked towards giving Goan artistes the recognition they deserved.

In 1977, the then director of Shri Damodar Prasadik Natyamandal, Prakash Thali directed and staged ‘Lekure Udanda Jahali’ at the Zambaulim Shigmotsav. At the time Ramchandra Pai Kane, Vinaya Shinkre (nee Kamat), Prasad Shinkre, Venkatesh Hegde and Jagdish Shirwaikar essayed prominent roles in the drama. The same drama will be staged in its Konkani translation with the same actors along with a few more, after 40 years.

The drama ‘Bhurgi Baalla Jallaa Mallaa’ is now being directed by Ramchandra Pai Kane who acted in the earlier adaptation. “I felt concentrating only on direction will help me direct better, so I’m not acting in any role now” he says.

Besides actors who performed in the 1977 adaptation, ‘Bhurgi Baalla Jallaa Mallaa’ has new actors including Rajiv Shinkre, Sushant Kamat, Nanda Kare, Reena Panandikar, Eknath Marathe and Ashish Bale.

Kane further adds: “I have great memories related to the play. This drama was staged in Goa in 1966-67 and some of us got a chance to act in it. I am fortunate to be a part of this drama as a child artiste even before I could join the drama troupe; here I got to act with legendary actor Shrikant Moghe.”

Kane says that Thali had directed the play in such a way that even when Kane read the Konkani script he remembered the entire role he played back then.

Kane adds: “There is no published version of the Konkani adaptation of this play. We were fortunate to source the hand written Konkani script by Prakash Thali and we are dedicating this performance to him. We are completing his dream that he left incomplete.”

The Natyamandal has been staging a performance annually at the Zambaulim Shigmotsav since 1976. For actors like Vinaya, who took a break from acting due to family commitments post-marriage, this performance is a comeback after 40 years. She says: “I am very excited to perform on stage after so many years.”

A doctor by profession, Venkatesh Hegde recalls that previously no woman would dare to perform on the stage during Shigmotsav, instead men would disguise themselves as women. This was also because Shigmotsav gave people the liberty to engage in fun and frolic uninhibitedly.

It was only in 1976 that Vinaya and Vidhya joined the troupe to perform at Shigmotsav at the behest of their mother. Hegde recalls that this caused a stir among people: “Although, we faced a lot of criticisms for this action, we set the trend and women today effortlessly act on stage without any fear during Shigmo.”

The revival of this drama has brought many memories to fore for the troupe. Rajiv says that the new performers get to hear a lot of stories from the actors who performed in 1977.

Going down memory lane, a very nostalgic Shirwaikar says: “I remember the way Thali had directed this play in Marathi; even when we made a single mistake midway during our rehearsal, he would ask us to start the rehearsal from the beginning.” Prasad adds that owing to the meticulous rehearsals everyone in the cast knew all the dialogues, even of the roles that they were not performing.

Giving a brief history of the troupe, Rajiv says that in 1970s, Margao-based Gomant Vidya Niketan’s (GVN) cultural section ‘Kala Vibhag’ was initiated. Shri Damodar Prasadik Natyamandal had an orchestra troupe back then known as Mahesh Kumar and Party. Things began to materialize when the members of GVN assured support and invited the troupe to join their cultural section.

Although the actors were very young then, Sushant Kamat highlights that their energy has been growing with every rehearsal. “The energy that we see and feel is more than ever. New actors are also energised because they get to be a part of the drama that was performed back then.”

Vinaya recalls: “I remember once Thali was firm upon performing a role, and I was not comfortable working with him initially, but his performance was so good that it put me to ease. His acting, direction is missed by our troupe today.”


(Shri Damodar Prasadik Natyamandal will perform this drama at various temples. Contact Rajiv Shinkre-9423820332 for details)

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