Grant Period: Over one year and six months
This grant supports research towards a manuscript on the socio-political history of modern Marathi theatre over the past 150 years. Makarand Sathe, a well-known Marathi playwright, who has also written several critical essays on Marathi theatre, will research and write the manuscript.
The research will locate and study the major political trends that emerged in modern Marathi theatre from 1850 to the present. The research will be broadly divided into three periods: 1850 to 1950, 1950 to 1980 and from 1980 to the present. Further, Makarand will examine the larger political implications of a play keeping in mind the social context in which it was written, and its reception and impact. Makarand is also interested in the question of the politics of language and how Indian identity was viewed and given meaning in the plays.
Makarand will undertake a close study of Mahatma Phule, one of the first playwrights of modern Marathi theatre, whose Tritiya Ratna is often omitted from mainstream theatre history, despite its theme of social change. The other playwrights he will focus on are Annasaheb Kirloskar, Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar and Govind Ballal Deval in pre-independence times and B. V. (Mama) Warerkar who wrote plays between 1914 and 1960. Post the 1950s, the study will focus on Vijay Tendulkar, followed by G.P. Deshpande, Mahesh Elkunchwar and Satish Alekar. Makarand will analyse political viewpoints and trends through studying the content of the scripts, styles of performance, attitude towards and responses from the state and audiences, criticism, reviews and controversies, among other things.
Anecdotal in form, the proposed book will tell the complex story of modern Marathi theatre in innovative ways. The narrative of the book will be constructed using excerpts from plays, interviews with playwrights, directors, reviews of plays and other critical texts. While some chapters will investigate the political motifs in the plays, others will directly examine their political content in the wider context of the times. The book will be held together by a sutradhar-like character that will make thematic rather than chronological connections between each of the delineated periods.
The manuscript will serve Makarand as a source for three plays that will bring the political history of modern Marathi theatre to a larger theatre-going audience.
This grant was made possible with part support from Shirish Apte.