As mentioned few times on this blog, I have general interest in Marathi and Kannada languages interchange across all fields including literature, theater, in particular. Fortunately, I can understand both these languages and appreciate rich history of togetherness, interchange across different fields. In the field of literature, translation of books from both languages to other language has been happening for quite some time and many of them are hugely popular on both sides. Example, Kannada author Bhayrappa’s books in Marathi. I am also happy that I have contributed my own bit by translating Kannada book on Amirbai Karnataki in Marathi. The exchange can be seen in theater field also. Girish Karnad’s plays in particular are popular in Marathi. The interchange and exchange in the field of theater is happening since early days of theatrical tradition in both languages.
I was able to witness unique show this weekend-show of a Marathi play Satyashodhak on Mahatma Jyotiba Phule’s life, directed by Atul Pethe, translated in Kannada, which had come to Pune. The uniqueness is because, I had watched Marathi version also in the past. And also because, Kannada version of Marathi play has not taken place in Pune in the past, as far as my knowledge goes. More about that play below.
Atul Pethe is different theater artist, with his own thoughts and uniqueness in approach. The Marathi version of the play involved workers of Pune Municipal Corporation(PMC) taking lead roles in the play. He worked with them on their acting skills, and getting them to perform to his satisfaction. The play itself is about 19th century social reformer couple Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savaitrbai Phule. Motivated by Dalit issues addressed in the play, it was translated in Kannada also(in fact, should get translated in many other languages).There is a tradition of such plays in Kannada, particularly, by Chandrashekhar Kambar, and even by Girish Karnad with his play Hari Jannar. The Kannada version(translated by D S Chougule) was presented by M Ganesh’s Janmandata troupe from Heggodu, with artists from all over Karnataka. Both Marathi and Kannada versions were powerful, impacting the audience, laying out life and work of Phule couple. The style used to portray is Jalsa style-more specifically Satyashodhaki Jalsa. Before the play began, M Ganesh spoke in Kannada about his feelings about this play and immediately translated for audiences in Marathi. Atul Pethe also announced that Marathi translation of Kannada play written by D S Chougule titled Vakhari Dhus(वखारी धूस) will be played in Pune soon.
You don’t get much opportunities of watching Kannada plays(and movies as well) in Pune. Kannada Sangh(which is celebrating, BTW, 50 years this year), has been organizing them once in a while. I had witnessed few such plays and programs in the past. One of them was Amol Palekar organized Rang Sangeet Mahotsav which traced music drama tradition of Karnataka, was able to witness great Kannada artists such Gubbi Veeranna and B Jayashri. The other was celebrating Girish Karnad’s creations, specifically, his Kannada movies where I got to watch beautiful movie Cheluvi and couple of his lesser known documentary films.
This exchange of artists, shows across both languages should happen more often. This is the only way to strengthen the bond. My next play to be watched is Girish Karnad’s Kannada play-Benda Kaalu’s(ಬೆಂದ ಕಾಳು) Marathi translation Une Pure Ek Shahar(उणे पुरे एक शहर). I had watched the show of original Kannada version in Pune itself sometime back.