“You have to prove your talent over and over again!” An interview with Premanand Gajvi

Premanad Gajvi
Premanad Gajvi

Premanand Gajvi (1947-present) is a Marathi playwright, writer and poet. He is well-known for his social commitment to effectively shape the disorganized truth of the society. His one-act play ‘Ghotbhar Paani’ has been translated into fourteen languages and another play ‘Kirwant’ has been translated into other Indian languages. His writings have been included in the school curriculum too.

On account of World Marathi Theatre Day, The Drama School Mumbai’s Neelam Sakpal interviewed Premanand Gajvi to share his experiences with theatre, art and performance.

Neelam: On account of World Marathi Theatre Day, what would you say about the present condition of Marathi theatre?

Premanand: Drama is a very serious medium of art. The purpose of theatre is primarily to awaken masses. When you talk about the traditional Marathi drama, you tend to remember or start conversations with Vishnudas Bhave. In fact, we need to remember that even before Vishnudas Bhave, there was Marathi theatre scene happening in Karnataka.

We don’t take theatre or drama seriously. Drama is a good medium to understand the social and cultural dimensions of those times. We first need to stop considering theatre as a compact way of entertainment. Secondly, it is necessary to acknowledge and recognise dramatists who take their art seriously. Which new questions and problems have arisen in this age? Who are the ones critiquing these problems?

We complete one year of demonetisation. Has any recent playwright considered showcasing the problems common man has faced due to it? In the name of the professional theatre, we tend to ignore the pressing issues of the society. Are there any plays produced on the current political and social situation of the country? From the time when Amol Palekar or Vijay Tendulkar wrote plays, there has been very little progress in experimental theatre. That’s why experimental theatre kept merging with professional theatre. This doesn’t mean that our society doesn’t have people who introspect anymore. It simply means that no one is willing to explore. That’s the scene with the theatre industry today. We have stopped taking risks and writing about real issues.

N: Playwrights nowadays only bother about festivals and awards function. That’s the time when they are seen coming together. They do not have any interest or appreciation for each other’s work. What is your observation on this matter?

P: Yes, people have now taken to celebrating festivals pompously. We have to celebrate ‘every day’ of our life. If we do not have any festivals to celebrate, we simply celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day with great fun. That’s where the drama industry is also focusing on.

What is the biggest festival for theatre artists? It is the state-level competition also known as Rajya Natya Spardha. This means December is the festival of glory because they mostly get organised in December. This competition doesn’t just receive new entries each year from larger production companies but also from smaller production groups. Some of the older productions are revived especially for such festivals.

The problem is that if the competition entails a prize, many groups will come forward to perform. That will indirectly increase the bookings of the shows. The audience has also begun appreciating only those plays that have famous star cast or the plays that have won awards. That means, a good play, according to the audience is not one that stimulates your mind but the one that wins your heart. Suppose a large drama production house earns enough money from a piece of art, then they shouldn’t have any problem to produce a new play next time. But there is no one fighting to do this. Festivals and competitions see a mix of new and old plays. The prize is also reserved for plays that have been performed earlier. What do they achieve by awarding and promoting someone who doesn’t really need any promotion? When will fresh talent stand a chance to be awarded or promoted? Ignorantly, we tend to appreciate old and experienced people and their art. On one hand, we live in modern times of gadgets but the plays we demand to see are old.

This means our heart still lingers in the history somewhere, right? Do we want to carry that history forward? I honestly believe that the question which we need to constantly talk about is whether art for art or art for life? This question is ignored in this celebratory mentality. We now see people just chasing awards and recognition. People used to seriously try to present their art differently but they are not seen doing that anymore. Instead of presenting art to people, it seems that everyone is trying to push themselves into the crowd. We can conclude that artists are not thinking about theatre anymore, they are merely looking for personal benefits.

N: Today, if writers or actors present the current socio-political scenario of the state honestly, people barge into halls to destroy the sets or inflict harm and shut the production. Some have even threatened to burn the theatres down. This means parallel censorship is on a rise. How should new artists tackle this?

P: Don’t try to think that parallel censorship is a new phenomenon. It has always existed and was equally active during Vijay Tendulkar’s time. Tendulkar had to be confronted with the sensation of censorship in his two plays – Sakharam Baindar and Ghashiram Kotwal. Well, you have people who are courageously going through all these incidents. But ultimately, fear of life remains an important aspect of these incidents. If someone comes, blackens your face, the fear of inviting harm further always stays. And it is very sad to say that there exists a group in the society that has created such fear. This is a sign that we still do not have ideological proficiency. The people who protest or oppose the play don’t really consider the central subject or message of the play. They do not even try to see the subtle work of art in it. I see this as a quick way of gaining popularity. The group that vandalises the plays always have a leader. The leader has his own agenda. They want to grab some eyeballs and that’s why they do this. Another reason could be that they don’t want the common people to introspect or question the situation at stake. This means that they want people to blindly believe in them and not use theatre or art to raise questions about injustice or wrongdoings. They don’t consider the fact that by listening to other side of the story, there might be new observations surfacing in the society. Observations like people from the history, socio-political scenarios from the past etc.

This may also mean that the playwright has an added responsibility that he shouldn’t ignore. The playwright must always ensure that his story contains elements of truth in them. If the playwright wants to put forward the truth about the society, they must also take into consideration the reaction from their audience and the risks they might put themselves in. The writer must always be proud of his story and should fearlessly communicate why he chose to explore the truth. An author or a writer must be prepared to stand against any catastrophe.

N: Suppose a writer is at the risk of being hurt and another writer does not run to help him. The writers do not have a pressure group yet. They do not have a union. Why this incompetence in spite of writers being creative?

P: This is a cultural question and this question is very old. You have a word for it, ‘cultural warfare’. Some playwrights are well established and safe and some playwrights are as they were. Because there’s monopoly of a particular group in performing arts as well. Therefore, every playwright will be able to run and help another playwright is not always possible. We have limited work for organisations that host authors. Their picture is not very optimistic. You can generally hear that some cinemas earn 100 crores or 200 crores. But then, do such organizations work for the growth of their authors? Is there any proposal of this type for the government?

The theatre bodies are just for namesake. Smaller organisations run competitions for authors and bigger theatre bodies do participate. That’s not ideal. Also, how well do we use social media for the promotion of theatre? We don’t. There are no programs or functions other than celebrating the anniversary of the organization. Do such organizations make sure that the money they pay to their playwrights is utilised wisely? How continuous are they in their methodology? Are there some new hurdles to find out how their writing improves? All these questions are unanswered. So when you think about the whole of the Marathi theatre, it does not amount to much.

N: Should a writer always have a neutral perspective while writing plays?

P: I do not think any writer can have a neutral perspective on any situation or while writing a play. But if someone attempts to do that, then we have to bring changes in our society. The need to eradicate corruption and casteism is urgent. This will have to be dealt with from its roots and we will have to bring change in our lifestyles. A human being’s perception is formed right after the birth. Some of our opinions are made up after observing the world around us. The author picks his subjects or topics from these daily situations. Before writing, the author accumulates questions, thoughts, emotions and lots of feelings. His perception and thought-process are formed that way. And suppose someone wants to write something that was not part of their life, for example, if I want to write about tribal life, and I am completely secluded from it, then the tribal life must be thoroughly understood by me before writing. To read books on it, to take thoughts and opinions of different people in it, all this should be the part of the study. When I understand this tribal life to be 70-80 percent, then I will get 40-50 percent of it in my writing. So it seems strange to write without an experience. You have to feel something to write it.

N: Shouldn’t the government help in improving the situation of artists?

P:  Definitely yes, the government has certain grants that they can use in arts and performing arts. If it uses these grants in a right manner, there are chances to improve the situation of artists. But the basic problem is that our government does not want to do anything beyond the state-level-competition and festival. If they can do something at a much larger level than that, they should do so. Instead of spending money on awards, the selection committee must provide fellowships to the writers. They should motivate the writers to write beyond the ordinary. Basically, the government should also know about the art. That’s when they can execute different activities. And not everything has to be done by the government. We should also take some responsibility. We speak too broadly and judge everyone. It has to work very differently.

N: You’ve also started The Bodhi Theatre. Will it take up a different journey in theatre?

It is the same fun. What is more appropriate? Art for art or life for art? You can argue on that. But let me go a step further and say that ‘art is for knowledge’. That is the third dimension. Now, this is not my own analysis. If Buddha had done something in the past so that he attained eternal knowledge. What he did was search for an answer. This is the principle on which ‘Bodhi’ theatre organization works. They search for the right playwright.

‘Bodhi’ has done story-writing and drama workshops throughout Maharashtra. About 250 to 300 people were selected to come on board. Those who wrote, we compiled a book with them – ‘Art for Knowledge’. We added 6-7 plays in it.

The selected playwrights are not special members of ‘Bodhi’. We do not propagate their ideology. What we do is motivate them to write plays for Bodhi Drama workshops. During the workshop, we read their play and discuss it at length. This exercise helps them with feedback to develop their script further. Later we turn those scripts into plays for different festivals. Some of the plays produced by the festival are also turned into books. It means that the process of writing should continue. There should be no stop. And the work that your former playwright has done, is expected to move forward. These young selected playwrights are experimenting with subjects that we never dared to touch. We are also helping these young playwrights carve their own path. There is a need to create a separate path. But we can’t keep hoping all the time. We have to prove our talent over and over again.

Thanks to Akshay Shimpi, student convenor at The Drama School for arranging this interview. This interview has been translated from Marathi by Roshan Kokane. You can read the original interview here!

Performance@theDSM: Dozakh (A Marathi Play)

Dozakh: A still from the play  l Sourced from the internet

Dozakh, a Marathi play directed by Abhijeet Zunjarrao talks about one of the most sensitive issues in the Indian political scenario. The play sheds light on how religious extremists use religion as an excuse to harm other human beings, especially women. It takes the audience on a journey of self-exploration where caste, religion, human rights, equality and crime are the central subjects.

The narrative of the play, revolving around two young girls speaks loudly of how religious propaganda accounts for ruthless killing of many around the world. It also puts to stage all the stereotype, hate crime and pressures faced by all women. The script pans through scenes where poetry is used to evoke emotions and show the plight of female survivors of war. Two hours of an intense portrayal of all the atrocities done against women makes the play a poignant watch. Come to the DSM and watch this brilliant analysis of religion and human character.

About Abhijeet Zunjarrao
Abhijeet Zunjarrao is a theatre and film actor, director and writer. He has directed several plays in the Marathi theatre circuit and also runs a production group Abhinay, Kalyan. 

Written by: Irfan Mujawar

Directed by: Abhijeet Zunjarrao

Date and Time: 16th December, 7pm

Venue: 5th Floor, The Drama School Mumbai, Girgaon, Mumbai – 400 004

Tickets: Rs. 250/-

Available on BookMyShow!


Performance@theDSM: Karl Marx in Kalbadevi

Creative sourced from the internet

We at the DSM intend to close the year with one of the most iconic and revolutionary men in history revisiting his chronicles. Revolutionary socialist, philosopher, economist and journalist, Karl Marx, comes to the DSM after a short halt in Kalbadevi. Yes, you heard it right! How and why has he come to Mumbai? What does he have to say? All questions will be answered by the man himself! Catch Karl Marx in Kalbadevi on 23rd December, 7pm at the DSM.

About Karl Marx in Kalbadevi

Karl Marx has made a comeback! The reason is clear. He feels that he has been misunderstood for several years and it’s time he gave us answers. It has come to his knowledge that socialism and communism, two words fathered by him, have become dirty words in the present!

He is damn upset about it and wants to clarify before the whole world, or a part of it starts the celebration of his 200th birth anniversary! Thanks to some quirky reasons, he has landed in India, in Mumbai, in Kalbadevi! He is waiting endlessly for a chance to speak his mind.

At last, he gets this chance; through a comic mix up! Come to the DSM and watch Karl Marx talking about his family, friends, Das Kapital and the boil on his ass as well as the enormous thali he had at Bhagat Tarachand!

DirectorManoj Shah

CastSatchit Puranik

Date and time: 23rd December 2017, 7 PM

Venue: 5th Floor, The Drama School Mumbai, Girgaon, Mumbai – 400 004

Tickets: Rs. 250/-

Available on BookMyShow!

Protests Through Theatre: Conversations@theDSM with Rasika Agashe

Rasika Agashe's picture
Rasika Agashe  l  Source: Facebook

Since graduating as an actor from the National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi, Rasika’s ambition has only been to consistently better herself. She firmly believes that art can speak volumes if the subject interests public and thus, she went on to give birth to Being Association, a theatre group which mainly does protest theatre.

Interviewing her at DSM on the Saturday of 11th November was her long-time colleague Dr. Sumedh. He is a doctor who specialises in research on female foeticide and women’s safety. He also writes plays as a hobby.

The conversation started with Rasika and Dr. Sumedh talking about what they do and how they got affiliated to theatre. Rasika joked about starting to like theatre when she was three-years-old. She said, “I grew up in Pune. As a member of a middle-class Marathi family, theatre was an important aspect of entertainment while growing up. When I was in college, I participated in a lot of theatre festivals and competitions. Purushottam Karandak was supposed to be the most reputed inter-college competition. That is how it all began.”

When Dr Sumedh asked how her experience at NSD helped her grow as a thespian, Rasika answered, “I did not realise the importance of NSD because it all happened very easily for me. I got admission when I applied for the first time, so I was not aware of how difficult or competitive it is. When the course started, the professors kept throwing at us references to various plays and characters written throughout history. To understand what was being taught, I needed to be well-read. In the first six months of my time there, I read about 150 plays. Along with that, the exposure to a whole variety of folk and western theatre, practices and understanding the differences in all of these styles made me a whole lot better.”

In the first six months of my time there, I read about 150 plays.

Dr. Sumedh then requested Rasika to speak a bit about her theatre group ‘Being Association’. Rasika was quite excited to talk about it. “I was getting to do a lot of different characters at the time when I started acting, but I still felt that somewhere I wasn’t getting to say what I wanted to say.  Theatre always tells you when you need to say something. I realised that forming theatre group would form my opinions and perception of the world.”

Being Association’s first play was Museum of Species. Dr Sumedh asked Rasika what propelled her to produce that? Rasika said, “Around the same time when I was establishing a separate theatre group, Nirbhaya rape incident took place in Delhi. That enraged me. At that time and even till date, violence, harassment and acts of atrocities against women in India were happening. I needed to use my skills to send out a strong message and play my part in putting an end to violence against women.”

She continued telling the audience that she gathered a bunch of her female friends who are involved in various art forms. “I had identified a couple of older texts along with the story of Draupadi, and wanted to create something around monologues from these characters. It started with a conversation about how we had all had heard of crimes against women around us. The conversation then steered to self-experiences. It was intense. You (Dr Sumedh) used to come to observe and help us write the play, and have been experiencing women’s anger and rage while recounting those incidents. But we got past that quickly and the play started taking shape. It eventually became a collection of 12 monologues starting from Draupadi to a regular woman from today’s times and their struggles. ”

Rasika also spoke about using theatre as a medium for societal change. She believes that as a responsible citizen and as someone who has been gifted a skill, she needs to continuously assess what’s wrong in the society and start conversations around it. She also added that from centuries theatre has been a medium to protest, make people aware, and discuss the social issues. “That is why we at Being Association have decided that we will use other sources of income, but the theatre group will strictly remain together to speak up against the wrong,” Rasika concluded.

We will upload the uncut video of Rasika Agashe’s interview here!

All the Conversations@theDSM are recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel, The Drama School Mumbai. Watch the older Conversations@theDSM here: http://bit.ly/2AOE8P4  

Conversations@theDSM: Irawati Karnik and Manaswini LR

In December, Conversations@theDSM will bring together two thespians and young theatre artists, Irawati Karnik and Manaswini LR. Both of them will be speaking with each other and the audience, so for this episode of conversation, get ready to expect twice the stories, insights, and experiences.

About Irawati Karnik

Irawati Karnik
Irawati Karnik

Irawati Karnik is a young theatre artist who has worked as an actor, director and playwright. Her first brush with professional theatre occurred when accomplished Marathi theatre director and playwright, Chetan Datar asked her to be a part of ‘Aawishkar’. Since then, there has been no looking back for Irawati. She considers herself lucky to have done a whole lot of theatre in such a short span of time.

She has acted in eight plays, directed five plays and has written four plays so far. She has also served as an assistant director to Chetan Datar as well as to theatre veteran, Satyadev Dubey. Her latest stint is as an actor-director with Vijay Tendulkar’s one-act play ‘Goshta’. ‘Khel Mandiyela’, her Marathi adaptation of a Polish play has won her recognition and an award.


About Manaswini LR

By IndiaToday
Manaswini Lata Ravindra

Manaswini Lata Ravindra is a young theatre artist who has co-founded a theatre group, Lalit Mumbai. She was also invited recently to Royal Court of Theatre London for a playwright workshop. For many years Manaswini’s mother was involved with the ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’ and her father has worked in the area of prevention of female foeticide. This has influenced Manaswini deeply and she has been able to interact with many intellectuals since childhood.

Cigarettes, her first full-length play happened after she moved to Mumbai. Currently Manaswini is working on a new play which is tentatively titled Until or Unless.

Date and time: 9th December 2017, 5 PM

Venue: 5th Floor, The Drama School Mumbai, Girgaon, Mumbai – 400 004

Entry: Free

Premanad Gajvee

कलेला वारंवार सिद्ध करावे लागते

प्रेमानंद गज्वी (१९४७-ह्यात) हे नव्वदोत्तरी मराठी नाटककार, लेखक व कवी आहेत. सामाजिक बांधिलकीचे भान ठेवून समाजातील विदारक सत्य प्रभावीपणे मांडणे यासाठी ते प्रसिद्ध आहेत. त्यांच्या “घोटभर पाणी” या एकांकिकेचे १४ भाषांत अनुवाद झाले आहेत व “किरवंत” या त्यांच्या नाटकाचे अन्य भारतीय भाषांत भाषांतर झाले आहे. त्यांच्या लेखांचा शालेय अभ्यासक्रमात समावेश झाला आहे.

पुरस्कार: वि. वा. शिरवाडकर पुरस्कार, मसापचा जीवनगौरव पुरस्कार.

नाटके: किरवंत, गांधी आणि आंबेडकर, छावणी, जय जय रघुवीर समर्थ, डॅम इट अनू गोरे, तन-माजोरी, देवनवरी, नूर महंमद साठे, शुद्ध बीजापोटी.

कथासंग्र: ढिवरडोंगा, लागण

कादंबरी: जागर, हवे पंख नवे

५ नोव्हेंबर – मराठी रंगभूमीदिनाचे औचित्य साधून रंगभूमी/थिएटर, कला, प्रतिभा याविषयावर ड्रामा स्कूल मुबईच्या वतीने निलम सकपाळ हिने सुप्रसिद्ध नाटककार प्रेमानंद गज्वी यांच्याशी संवाद साधला आहे.

प्रश्न: मराठी रंगभूमी दिनानिमित्त रंगभूमीची आजची स्थिती गती याविषयी तुमचे काय मत आहे?

गज्वी: नाटक हे फार गंभीर माध्यम आहे. रंगभूमीचा हेतू आहे जो प्रामुख्याने प्रबोधन आहे, हे विसरून चालणार नाही. आपण मराठी नाटकाची परंपरा सांगताना विष्णुदास भावेंपासून सांगतो. खरंतर त्यांच्या आधीही कर्नाटकामध्ये मराठी रंगभूमी होती. त्याचाही उल्लेख आपण केला पाहिजे. रंगभूमीबद्दल आपण फार विचार करत नाही. मराठी नाटक जगाच्या पाठीवर कुठेही होत असेल किंवा पूर्वी झाले असेल, तर त्याचाही विचार आपण केला पाहिजे. त्याचा हेतू असा की, मराठी माणसे तेव्हा काय करीत होती? त्या-त्या  काळातले सामाजिक आणि सांस्कृतिक आयाम काय होते, हे समजण्यासाठी नाटक हे उत्तम माध्यम आहे. त्यामुळे रंगभूमीकडे केवळ मनोरंजन अशा संकुचित दृष्टीने बघणे आधी थांबवले पाहिजे. दुसरे असे की गंभीरपणे नाटक लिहिणारी नाटककार मंडळी शोधावी लागतील. जे नवीन प्रश्न निर्माण झालेत, त्यावर नाटकाच्या माध्यमातून आज भाष्य करणारे कोण डोळ्यासमोर येतात? नोटबंदीला एक वर्ष पूर्ण झाले. नोटाबंदीच्या अनुषंगाने, जगण्याची जी एकूण उलथापालथ झाली त्यावर कुणी नाट्यभाषेतून व्यक्त झालेय का? त्याविषयावर आधारित प्रायोगिक का होईना, नाटक आले का? व्यावसायिक रंगभूमीला पर्याय म्हणून आपण काहीतरी निर्माण करू पाहत होतो. पण अगदी अमोल पालेकर यांच्यापासून ते अगदी विजय तेंडुलकरांच्या काळापर्यंत प्रायोगिक रंगभूमीचा पर्याय म्हणून विचारही केला गेलेला नाही, काही ठोस उभेही केले गेले नाही. त्यामुळे झाले असे की ही प्रायोगिक रंगभूमी आपोआप व्यावसायिक रंगभूमीत विलीन होत गेली. या दृष्टीने विचार करणारे लोक आपल्याकडे नाहीत असे नाही, पण पुरेसे गंभीर नाहीत.

प्रश्न: नाटकवाले आता फक्त उत्सवी मानसिकतेत रमले आहेत किंवा फक्त अवार्ड्स फंक्शनला एकत्र येताना दिसतात. त्यांना एकमेकांच्या कामाबद्दल तितकं कुतूहल किंवा आस्था उरली नाहीये. तुमचे या बाबतीत काय निरीक्षण आहे?

गज्वी: हो आपल्याकडचे लोक पूर्वीपासून उत्सवप्रेमी राहिले आहेत आणि आता तर आपल्याला रोज म्हटले तरी साजरा करायला ‘उत्सव’ हा लागतोच. सणवार नसला तर आपण आई-बाबांचा दिवसही (Mother’s Day – Father’s Day) मोठ्या जल्लोषात साजरा करतो. मग नाटक करणारी मंडळी याला कसा अपवाद ठरतील? रंगकर्मीसाठी सगळ्यात मोठा सण कोणता तर राज्यनाट्य स्पर्धा. डिसेंबर महिना तर पर्वणीच. अशा स्पर्धांसाठी छोट्या संस्था सोडाच मोठ्या व्यावसायिक संस्था सुद्धा नव्याने नाटक करतात. या महोत्सवासाठी नाटके पुनरुज्जीवीत केली जातात. गोष्ट अशी आहे की, स्पर्धेत पुरस्कार प्राप्त नाटक असेल तर नाटकाचे पुढे बुकिंग वाढते. म्हणजे प्रेक्षक सुद्धा कोणती नाटके पाहणे पसंत करतो तर ज्यात नावाजलेले चेहरे असतील, ज्या नाटकाला पुरस्कार मिळाले असतील, अशी नाटके. म्हणजे चांगल्या नाटकाचे आपण आज जे काही निकष लावतो ते समाधान देणारे नक्कीच नाही. समजा एखाद्या मोठ्या नाट्यसंस्थेने एका कलाकृतीतून पुरेसे पैसे कमवलेत, तर तिने पुढच्या वेळेस नवीन नाटककाराचे नाटक करायला काहीच हरकत नाही. पण असे करायला कोणीही धजावत नाही. स्पर्धेत पुनरुज्जीवीत नाटकासोबत नवीन लिहिलेली नाटकेही असतात. पुन्हा पुनरुज्जीवित नाटकाच्या नाटककारालाच पुरस्कार मिळतो. ज्या नाटककाराला प्रमोशनची गरजच नाही, अशा नाटककाराला पुरस्कार देऊन काय साधतात? मग नवीन नाटककाराला प्रोत्साहन कसे व कधी मिळणार? नकळतपणे आपण पुन्हा जुन्याच गोष्टींचे समर्थन करीत आहोत की काय? एकीकडे आपण गॅझेटच्या आधुनिक काळात जगतो आणि नाटकं मात्र आपण जुनीच पाहतो. म्हणजे आपले मन अजूनही मागे कुठेतरी इतिहासातच रेंगाळते आहे का? तोच इतिहास पुढे घेऊन जायचे का? मग आपण सातत्याने ज्या प्रश्नाविषयी बोलतो की “कलेसाठी कला की जीवनासाठी कला?” तो प्रश्न या उत्सवी मानसिकतेमुळे मागे पडत आहे असे माझे प्रामाणिक मत आहे. आणि फक्त एका नावाजलेल्या पुरस्कारासाठी सारा लेखनप्रपंच किंवा एकूण नाट्य व्यवहार चालताना दिसतोय. पूर्वी राज्यनाट्य स्पर्धेसाठी लोक गांभीर्याने, किमान काहीतरी वेगळा प्रयत्न करायचे. ते आत्ताचे लोक करताना दिसत नाहीत. कला सादरीकरणाऐवजी एका गर्दीत स्वतःला ढकलणे व स्वतःला सिद्ध करणे चालू आहे असे वाटते. रंगभूमीचा एकूण विचार न करता सुटसुटा-स्वतःपुरता विचार केला जातोय असे वाटते.

प्रश्न: आज लेखकाने, नाटककराने समाजात जे काही घडतंय त्याविषयी बेधडकपणे काही लिहिले  तर त्याच्या नाटकाचे, चित्रपटाचे पोस्टर्स फाडले जातात. एक जत्था संतापलेल्या अवस्थेत येतो नाट्यगृहचित्रपटगृह जाळण्याच्या धमक्या देऊन जातो. याचा अर्थ आज पॅरलल सेन्सॉरशीप अधिक स्ट्रॉन्गली वाढत चालली आहे का? आत्ताच्या काळातील नाटककाराने याला कसे भिडावे?

गज्वी: ही जी पॅरलल सेन्सॉरशीप आहे ती आत्ता अधिक वाढलीये असे नाही, तर ती आधीपासूनच होती. विजय तेंडुलकरांच्या काळातही ती तितकीच कार्यरत होती. तेंडुलकरांना त्यांच्या सखाराम बाईंडर आणि घाशीराम कोतवाल या दोन नाटकांच्या बाबतीत सेन्सॉरशीपच्या रोषाला सामोरे जावे लागले. बरं या सगळ्या प्रकाराला धैर्याने सामोरे जाणारे लोक आपल्याकडे आहेत. पण शेवटी जीवाची भीती हा एक भाग राहतोच. कोणीतरी येईल, आपल्या तोंडाला काळे फासेल, ही भीती कायम डोक्यात घर करून असते. आणि अशी भीती निर्माण करणारा एक गट समाजात अस्तित्वात आहे, हे फार खेदाने म्हणावे लागते. आपल्यात अजूनही वैचारिक प्रगल्भता आलेली नाही, याचे हे लक्षण आहे. ही विरोध करणारी मंडळी, ज्या नाटकाला विरोध करत असतात ते नाटक नेमके काय आहे, नाटककाराने काय मांडलेय हे न बघताच विरोधी भूमिकेत जातात. ती कलाकृती बघण्याचीही तसदी घेत नाहीत. काय होतं की असे केल्याने पटकन टीव्ही चॅनलवर कुठेतरी झळकायला मिळते. त्यांच्या संघटनेचा मालक असतो, त्यालाही काहीतरी उद्योग हवे असतात. संघटनेतील मुलांसाठी काहीतरी काम हवं असतं. मग हे असे सोपे मार्ग जास्त वापरले जातात. यांचे कलाकृतीला विरोध करण्यामागचे कारण काय तर त्यांच्या समाजाच्या एखाद्या स्त्रीच्या चारित्र्यहननाचे म्हणा, किंवा वास्तवात ती जर तशीच घडलेली गोष्ट असेल तर ती तशीच लोकांपर्यंत पोचण्याची भीती यांना वाटत असते. पण ते दुसरी चांगली बाजू लक्षात घेत नाहीत की या कलाकृतीमधून त्या त्या कालखंडामधला एखादा पट,  त्यावेळची माणसे, त्यावेळची सामाजिक –सांस्कृतिक परिस्थिती आपल्यासमोर येईल. याउलट आपली व आपल्या समाजाची बदनामी होईल, हीच भीती त्यांना अधिक असते. यानिमित्ताने सांगावेसे वाटते की लेखकाची दुसरी एक जबाबदारी आहे. ती लेखकाला टाळून चालणार नाही. त्याने एखादी कलाकृती निर्माण करताना, सत्य शोधलेय का? आणि त्या सत्यासाठी/ ते सत्य समाजासमोर आणण्यासाठी तो आपला जीव गमवायला तयार आहे का ? समजा तसा प्रसंग आलाच, तर लेखकाला छातीठोक पणे सांगता आले पाहिजे की, हे मी लिहिलेले आहे, हे-हे त्याचे पुरावे आहेत. लेखकाला आपल्या कलाकृतीच्या बाजूने कोणत्याही बिकट परिस्थितीत उभे राहता आले पाहिजे.

प्रश्न: पण समजा एका लेखकावर संकट आलेच असे चित्र दिसते की दुसरा लेखक त्याच्या मदतीला धावून जात नाही. मराठी रंगभूमीवर अजूनही लेखकांचा प्रेशर ग्रुप नाहीये. त्यांची युनियनच नाहीये. लेखक हा सर्जनशील असूनही त्याच्याबाबतीत ही विषमता का?

 गज्वी: हा खरं म्हणजे सांस्कृतिक प्रश्न आहे. आणि हा प्रश्न फार जुना आहे. आपल्याकडे याला सांस्कृतिक युद्ध असा शब्द आहे. काही नाटककार सुरक्षित तसेच प्रस्थापित आहेत तर काही नाटककार जैसे थे आहेत. कारण कलेच्या बाबतीतही आपल्याकडे विशिष्ट गटाची मक्तेदारी असलेली दिसते. त्यामुळे एका नाटककाराच्या मदतीला दुसरा नाटककार धावून जाईलच असे नाही. आपल्याकडे ज्या लेखकांसाठीच्या संघटना आहेत, त्यांचे काम मर्यादित स्वरूपाचे आहे. त्यांचे चित्र फारसे आशादायी नाही. अमुक सिनेमाने शंभर कोटी कमावले नि दोनशे कोटी कमावले असे आपण सर्रास ऐकतो. पण मग लेखकांच्या मानधन वाढीसाठी अशा संघटना काही काम करतात का? अशा स्वरूपाचा एखादा प्रस्ताव सरकार दरबारी गेला आहे का? इथली नाट्यपरिषद तर नुसती नावाला आहे. छोट्या संस्था जशा छोट्या छोट्या नाट्यलेखन स्पर्धा भरवितात तसे नाट्यपरिषद सुद्धा अशा स्पर्धा भरवितात. ते तुमचे कामच नाहीये. त्यासाठी छोटे गट, स्थानिक संस्था आहेत. तुम्ही काहीतरी मोठे काम करा ना. ते होताना दिसतच नाहीये. नाटककाराच्या प्रमोशनसाठी सोशल मिडियाचा किती चांगल्याप्रकारे वापर करतात? तर नाही. संघटनेचा वर्धापन दिन साजरा करण्यापलीकडे यांचा काही कार्यक्रम नसतो. अशा संघटना नवीन तरुण नाटककारांकडून जे पैसे घेतात त्या पैशाचा योग्य विनिमय होतो का? आपल्या कार्यपद्धतीत किती सातत्य ठेवतात? त्यांचे लेखन कसे सुधारेल यावर काही नवीन क्लुप्त्या शोधून काढल्या जातात का? हे सगळे प्रश्न निरुत्तरच आहेत. म्हणून आपण मराठी रंगभूमीबाबत एकूण विचार करतो तेव्हा फारसं हाती काही लागत नाही.

प्रश्न: लेखकाने लिहिताना न्युट्रल होऊन लिहावे का? आपली विचारधारा बाजूला ठेवून लिहिता येणे त्याला शक्य आहे का?

गज्वी: मला नाही वाटत की नाटककाराला न्युट्रल होऊन लिहिता येत असेल म्हणून. पण असे जर कोणाला वाटत असेल तर आधी आपल्या समाजात बदल करावे लागतील. भ्रष्टाचार दूर करावा लागेल. जातमानसिकता बदलावी लागेल. हे काम अगदी मूळाशी जाऊन, आपले जगण्याचे सगळे ठोकताळे बदलून करावे लागेल. माणूस म्हणून तुम्हाला न्युट्रल राहताच येत नाही. जन्मापासूनच काही विशिष्ट जाणीवा घेत-घेत माणसाची वाढ-विकास झालेला असतो. तुमची काही मते-धारणा तयार झालेल्या असतात. त्यातूनच लेखकाला विषय सुचत असतात. अशाप्रकारे लिहिण्यापूर्वी त्याच्याकडे प्रश्नांचा, विचारांचा, भावनांचा, खूप साठा तयार असतो. ज्याच्यावर त्याची पुढची लेखनप्रक्रिया अवलंबून असते. आणि समजा एखाद्याला असे काही लिहायचे आहे, जे त्याच्या आजवरच्या जगण्याचा भाग नव्हते, उदाहरणार्थ मला जर आदिवासी जीवनावर नाटक करायचे आहे, आणि मी त्यापासून पूर्णपणे अलिप्त असेल, तर मला लिहिण्यापूर्वी आदिवासी जीवन बारकाईने समजून घेतले पाहिजे. त्यावरची पुस्तके वाचणे, त्यासंदर्भात वेगवेगळ्या लोकांच्या भेटी घेणे, हा सगळा अभ्यासाचा भाग केला पाहिजे. जेव्हा मी हे आदिवासी जगणे ७०-८० टक्के समजून घेईन, तेव्हा कुठे त्याचा ४०-५० टक्के भाग माझ्या लेखनात उतरेन. त्यामुळे अलिप्त राहून लिहिणे हे मला जरा विचित्र वाटते. लिहिण्यासाठी एखाद्या गोष्टीची वेदना होणे गरजेचे आहे.

प्रश्न: ही सगळी परिस्थिती सुधारण्यासाठी सरकारची मदत होऊ शकते का?

 गज्वी: निश्चितपणे होऊ शकते. सरकारकडे कलाक्षेत्रासाठी जो निधी असतो त्याचा योग्य दिशेने वापर झाल्यास परिस्थिती नक्की बदलेल. पण मूळ दुखणे हे आहे की आपल्या सरकारला राज्यनाट्य स्पर्धेच्या पलीकडे काही करावेसे वाटत नाही. त्यापेक्षा काही व्यापक स्तरावर काही करता आले तर तसे करावे. पुरस्कार वगैरे गोष्टींवर पैसा खर्च करण्यापेक्षा योग्य नाटककाराची निवड करून त्याला नाट्यलेखनासाठी विद्यावेतनाची (फेलोशिपची) तरतूद करावी. त्याला लेखन करण्यास प्रोत्साहन द्यावे. मुळात सरकारला सुद्धा कलाक्षेत्राविषयी माहिती हवी-आस्था हवी. तेव्हा कुठे तो वेगवेगळे उपक्रम राबवू शकतो. आणि प्रत्येक गोष्ट शासनानेच केली पाहिजे, असे नाही. आपणही काही जबाबदारी घ्यायला हवी. आपण खूप ढोबळमानाने बोलतो. यावर खूप वेगळ्या पद्धतीने काम करावे लागेल.

प्रश्न: याला जोडून, तुम्ही बोधी रंगभूमीची मुहूर्तमेढ रोवली, तीही वेगळ्या पद्धतीचे काम करणारी आहे?

गज्वी: याच्यासाठीच आहे खरं म्हणजे. खरी गंमत काय आहे ना, कलेसाठी कला की जीवनासाठी कला? असा वाद आपण घालतो. तर मी एक पाऊल पुढे जाऊन असे विधान करतो की –‘ज्ञानासाठी कला.’ हे थर्ड डायमेंशन शोधून काढले. आता हे काय माझं स्वतःचं अनालिसिस नाहीये. असं पटकन सापडलेलं नाहीये. तर बुद्धाने फार पूर्वी एक गोष्ट करून ठेवलेली, ती म्हणजे बुद्धाला ज्ञान प्राप्ती झाली होती. म्हणजेच शोध घेतला तर प्रश्नांची उत्तरे सापडतात. मग त्याच पद्धतीने ‘बोधी’ नाट्य संस्था काम करते. ती नाटककारांचा शोध घेते. ‘बोधी’ने महाराष्ट्र भर कथा-कविता-नाट्यलेखन कार्यशाळा केल्या. यात जवळपास २५० ते ३०० लोक जुडले गेले. यांच्यापैकी ज्यांनी कोणी लेखन केले, त्यावर आम्ही पुस्तक काढले– आर्ट फॉर नॉलेज अशा शीर्षकाचे. त्यात ६-७ नाटककर आम्हाला दिसले. ते ‘बोधीचे’ खास असे मेंबर नाहीत. आम्ही त्यांचा प्रचार-प्रसार करतो अशातलाही भाग नाही. आम्ही काय करतो तर त्यांना बोधी नाट्यलेखन कार्यशाळेनिमित्ताने नाटक लिहायला प्रवृत्त करतो. कार्यशाळेत आम्ही त्यांच्या नाटकाचे वाचन करतो, त्यावर साधक बाधक चर्चा करतो. यातून नाटककाराला आपल्या नाटकातल्या उणीवा किंवा चांगली बाजूही स्पष्ट होण्यास मदत होते. त्याला पुढे लिहिण्याची उर्मी त्यातून मिळते. पुढे आम्ही त्या नाटकांचा महोत्सव केला. महोत्सवातून जी नाटके तयार झाली त्यात काहींनी स्वतःची पुस्तके काढली. याचाच अर्थ कोणत्याना कोणत्या प्रकारे ही नाटकलेखन प्रक्रिया चालू राहिली पाहिजे. तिच्यात खंड पडता कामा नये. आणि आपल्या आधीच्या नाटककारांनी जे काम करून ठेवले आहे, त्याच्या पुढे जाणे अपेक्षित आहे. जे आम्हांला जमले नाही ते त्यांनी करावे. त्याला आपली स्वतःची. स्वतंत्र वाट निर्माण करावी लागेल कारण कला ही अशी गोष्ट आहे जी नुसती आशा व्यक्त करून उपयोगी नाही तर कलेला वारंवार सिद्ध करावं लागतं.

ही मुलाखत अक्षय शिंपीमुळे शक्य झाली आहे.
अक्षय, द ड्रामा स्कूल मुंबईचे विद्यार्थी संयोजक आहेत

Modern theatre, Mumbai and Indian aesthetics

By Tanvi Parekh, Kathak dancer and travel scribe


He shares a love-hate relationship with Mumbai, the city which is at the heart of most of his plays. She has been lighting, directing, and conducting workshops all across Mumbai. The two collaborated for Ambu and Rajalakshmi, officially. But unknown to Ramu, she has lit most of his play-productions for the past few years.
Gurleen Judge and Ramu Ramanathan kick-start the Conversations@theDSM series, a celebration of the guru-shishya tradition in theatre, at Purandare Hall in Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh.

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