|P L Deshpande|
5th November is celebrated as Marathi Rang bhumi din by entire Theater community of Maharashtra.There are many events organized by drama groups all over the state. Some Drama competition's finals took place on this day. And some producers deliberately release their commercial dramas on this day. Marathi theater has great history from 1843 to 2011. In India Bengali and Marathi literature in drama industry is famous all over the world.Many scripts have traveled across globe and have been translated in many global languages. Many eminent personalities in drama industry have represented Maharashtrian culture all over the world.Many actors who worked in Bollywood in several movies have started their careers from theater. During last decade, the number of audiences for Marathi dramas showed great decline. After state Government's corrective measures, the Marathi movie theaters started getting subsidy and many Marathi movies were released tax-free. But this could not bring audiences to theaters. Although Drama audiences remained loyal to dramas.Even in the bad times some good dramas helped survival of Marathi theater.
In Mumbai, Shivaji Nayamandir, Ravindra Natyamandir, Yashwantrao Chavan Natyasankul, Dinanath Natyamandir and Damodar etc are some of the well known Marathi theaters. Apart from these, Vishnudas Bhave Natyamandir and Gadkari Rangayatan are also well known theaters. In Kalina University you will find Drama school of Mumbai University headed by Shri. Waman Kendre. His wife Gauri Kendre is contributing to Children dramas through her academy. Mumbai University's Bahishal department is run in Fort University and Director Shri. Sachin Goswami and Writer Shri. Sachin Mote are main pillars of it. Bahishal is for artists who are not full time drama professionals but pursue drama as hobby.
Money equation of Marathi drama industry is worst.It is the only reason why no one dares to make it as full time profession and seek entry in Marathi serials or films.There are very few production houses who have really done good business through dramas. The budget of Marathi drama can start from as low as 7 lacs. The lead actors gets Rs.2000-3000 per show but other supporting actors and back stage artists gets merely just Rs.150-250 for full day. Some dramas like 'Jaanta Raja' and 'Marathi baana' have so many artists and big sets that they can be considered as Events rather than drama or programs.Lot of experimentation has been done in Marathi dramas. Sets and lights being very important part of any drama various people like have gained expertise in it. e.g.Sheetal Talpade. The background scores and title tracks etc.make dramas more alive.Thanks to music directors like Shri.Ashok Patki who are serving Marathi theaters from several years.Some drama Directors like Kedar Shinde have gained so much success that they even Directed movies, Marathi as well as Hindi in recent past years. So dramas have seriously gave fame to several people.
Many actors got recognized through Marathi theater. But they encashed on this fame by acting in serials and films as theater alone could not provide them a secured life. A vegetable seller under Dadar bridge become Marathi Film Superstar,thanks to Marathi theater.Actor Bharat Jadhav's drama 'Sahi re sahi' was the biggest milestone of his life. Sanjay Narvekar's acting in Marathi dramas like Adhantar etc. bagged him role of 'Dedhfutya bhai' in Bollywood hit Vaastav. Siddharth Jadhav also followed the same success track of Marathi drama - Marathi Serials - Marathi films - Hindi films.The list is very long. Actors like Dr.Shri ram Lagoo, Nilu Phule,Vikram Gokhale, Nana Patekar, Mohan Joshi,Mohan Agashe, Ashok Saraf, Laxmikant Berde, Sadashiv Amrapurkar are some of the names who are well known in all over India. So Marathi theater is definitely a foundation school for many veteran actors.Although some big names in Marathi drama like Prashant Damle and Bharat Jadhav could not made any impact in Hindi.
Young generation is trying new new subjects on the restricted canvas of Marathi drama. Some scripts are really ahead of time.Many talented writers and directors are breaking the traditional frames and bringing innovations to drama field. Choosing bold subjects which were considered as Taboo and also making thought provoking dramas on social issues. Apart from entertaining people they are doing social education and giving messages which are helpful for health of the society.
May the Marathi Rangbhumi keep growing and generate more gems in entertainment industry.I wish all the people associated with stage, a happy Marathi Rangbhumi day !! (Especially to my favorite theater actor Mr. Prashant Damle).