Makarand Sathe

Arts Research and Documentation
2011-2012

Grant Period: Over one year and six months

This grant supported the translation of playwright Makarand Sathe’s book, Marathi Natkachya Tees Ratri: Ek Samajik Rajkiya Itihas (Thirty Nights of Marathi Theatre: A Socio-political History) from Marathi to English. An earlier IFA grant programme had enabled Makarand to research and write this mammoth book of 1,800 pages. IFA has never before made a dissemination grant for the translation of a book resulting from an earlier grant. This departure from our normal practice, however, seemed justified in the present case, not only because of the quality, originality and scope of Makarand’s book, but also because it had the potential to inform and enrich a more mainstream, but sometimes myopic English-language discourse.

Apart from analysing middle class Marathi theatre, the book integrated the study of two very significant theatre strands that developed in the colonial period—Satyashodhaki Jalse and Ambedkari Jalse—which gave voice to the socially downtrodden. These movements used folk forms like Tamasha in very different ways to give vent to subaltern concerns. They were the predecessors of the vibrant Dalit theatre which emerged after 1975. The book also included a study of Kamgar Rangabhoomi (Theatre of Labour) and plays by various political parties. A substantial part of the book is devoted to a comparative study of these strands of theatre and mainstream middle class Marathi theatre. The examination of such diverse narratives of Marathi theatre was partly what made Thirty Nights of Marathi Theatre a significant work. The book does not proceed chronologically but makes lateral connections between plays, playwrights and political issues like the representation of imperialism or the Emergency in Marathi theatre. For example, a play like Sakharam Binder by Vijay Tendulkar can be found in a chapter on State censorship as well as in a chapter on Tendulkar as the first playwright to unmask and assail the hypocrisy of the middle classes.

The book was translated in two phases. The initial translation was done by Iravati Karnik and Madhuri Dixit. Iravati is a young Marathi playwright and has translated plays like Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Elkunchwar’s Dharmaputra, Satyadev Dubey’s Brahma Vishnu Mahesh. Madhuri is an English lecturer at a college in Ahmednagar University and has several translations to her credit. Once a basic translation is complete, Makarand and well known theatre critic/accomplished translator Shanta Gokhale worked on the final version.

Makarand abridged the manuscript before the translation began. He has been in conversation with Oxford University Press, which has expressed a keen interest in publishing the book in two volumes once the English translation is done.

Images Credit: Jacket Visual - Sudhir Patwardhan; Jacket Design - Dsgn Unplugged