“Musical Saubhadra”, Lord Krishna blessed love story of Subhadra and Arjun, by Annasaheb Kirloskar (संगीत सौभद्र, अण्णासाहेब किर्लोस्कर), the biggest hit of 19th and 20th century Maharashtra, completed 125 years of its staging on November 18, 2007.
D G Godse द ग गोडसे and M V Dhond म वा धोंड have written memorable essays on the subject of Marathi stage.
Godse in his essay “centenarian Saubhadra” (शातायुषी सौभद्र, included in his book नांगी असलेले फुलपाखरू, 1989), written to celebrate centenary of the play said:
“...The play is essentially a farce but its structure and development are not foreign but native and in the nature of folk play…
The inspiration could also have come from recently published English historical romantic novels…
Saubhadra, tender and entertaining, never becomes serious but never crosses the limits of good taste...
The play featured for the first time bedroom scene on Marathi stage, done boldly, confidently but tastefully, with restraint…”
Main characters of the play are Krishna, Balaram, Arjun, Subhadra, Rukmini, Narada, Satyaki and among them they sing about 100 songs!
Dhond says:"...Shankararaav Mujumadaar शंकरराव मुजुमदार who played Rukmini couldn't sing. Therefore, Rukmini who moves among the people who sing at the drop of a hat was given no song by Kirloskar!"
Subhadra in later years was played by Marathi stage legends like Balgandharva बालगंधर्व and Keshavrao Bhosale केशवराव भोंसले.
Imitating Balgandharva, college-going young men from all over Maharashtra used to dress like women, get photographed and carry the picture around proudly.
Is this the birth of modern Indian metrosexual man?
If Saubhadra is the greatest comedy of Marathi stage, “One More Glass” by R G Gadkari (1885-1919)[एकच प्याला, राम गणेश गडकरी] is perhaps its greatest tragedy. It soon will complete its own century.
Dhond is his book “Moon of the Fourth Day” (चंद्र चवथिचा, 1987) claims that prodigally talented Gadkari almost invented The Theatre of the Absurd which was later done by Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco.
Are women in the picture below watching Saubhadra?
Artist: Peter Arno April 10, 1926