"… एक आश्चर्याची गोष्ट म्हणजे 'महाभारता'वर आधारलेली सोफिस्टिकेटेड सांस्कृतिक मूल्यावर उभी राहिलेली एकही प्रभावी नाट्यकृती (इतक्या शतकांत) निर्माण झाली नाही, जिने जनमानसावर सर्वकष मोहिनी टाकली आहे. इ. स. 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."
('वाङ्मयीन संस्कृती व सामाजिक वास्तव', 2011)
[ Vilas Sarang:
"...One surprising fact is not a single influential play based on Mahabharata grounded in sophisticated cultural values (in so many centuries) has been created, the one that has enchanted the society in its entirety. The kind of culture that was established after 1000 CE, in that virtues of commonality and catholicity almost disappeared...our culture has untimely lost universal commonality."]
Discussion on the subject of Marathi drama thus starts on a somber note.
I did not read Dr. Shreeram Lagoo (डॉ. श्रीराम लागू) 'Laman' (लमाण) because it was (and still is) unaffordable and I did not get to read a single good review of it.
There will one less reason NOT to read Ms. Vijaya Mehta's (विजया मेहता) thanks to Kamlakar Nadkarnni's (कमलाकर नाडकर्णी) excellent review of it in Loksatta (लोकसत्ता) April 21 2013.
courtesy: Rajhans Prakashan and Ms. Vijaya Mehta and the cover artist(s)
What I liked the best about the review is one of the two benchmarks against which it measures the book: 'Bahurupi' (बहुरूपी) by the late Chintamanrao Kolhatkar (चिंतामणराव कोल्हटकर). For me, 'Bahurupi' remains one of the bests books of 20th century. I keep reading it from time to time.
[I say one of the two, second being Nanasaheb Phatak's (नानासाहेब फाटक) 'Mukhavtyanche Jag' (मुखवटय़ांचे जग), because I have still not read it.]
Ms. Mehta is an important stage personality of independent India. (Don't go by moth-eaten entry on her in English Wikipedia and almost nonexistence of it on Marathi Wikipedia!)
I have never seen her perform on the stage but seen Girish Karnad's 'Hayavadana' (हयवदन) and 'Nagamandala' (नागमंडल) directed by her. They were beautifully staged at NCPA, Mumbai. But today almost nothing from those plays stands out in my mind.
Last year or so I saw her longish interview on Marathi TV in many parts. I forgot what she said as soon I changed the channel or switched off the TV. I thought she looked great for her age!
I have seen a few of her pictures from the youth and she looks stunning, very attractive. I hope this aspect of her personality has been done adequate justice in her book.
Mr. Nadkarni writes in the review:
"बाई इतरांबद्दल लिहितात; पण ते त्यांना लाभलेल्या नेपथ्यकारांबद्दल..." (Madam writes about others; but about the art directors she got...).
I understand that Ms. Mehta and the late D G Godse (द ग गोडसे), renowned art director, were friends and I hope she has written about Shri. Godse because the TV interview I refer above had no mention of him. (disclaimer- I may be wrong if I missed that part of the show.) In fact, one of the principal reasons I saw the interview was to hear her talk about Godse!
The review made me disappointed with Ms. Mehta's actions such as:
"आयनेस्कोच्या 'खुच्र्या'बद्दलही त्या घाईघाईत लिहून जातात." (On Eugene Ionesco's 'Chairs' she writes in a haste.)
" '.. नाटय़कृती सामान्याकडून असामान्याकडे जाते आणि त्यातून उदात्त एपिक क्षणांच्या ठिणग्या उडतात. असे अनेक क्षण ब्रुक यांच्या महाभारतात मला मिळाले. म्हणून मी त्यांना गुरू मानते.' बाई फक्त दोनच प्रसंग त्रोटकपणे लिहितात." ["...'the play moves from the ordinary to the extraordinary and from that sparks of sublime epic moments fly. I got many such moments from (Peter) Brook's Mahabharata. And hence I consider him guru' Madam writes only two incidents briefly."]
(BTW- I kind of understand all the individual words there but I have no clue what 'उदात्त एपिक क्षणांच्या ठिणग्या' are...although, I agree, it's fashionable to speak and write such Marathi these days. )
Is this intellectual inadequacy because even her TV interview gave me the same impression? A kind of shallowness. Problem of the medium? She did not give me the impression that she once was a friend of great artist and art critic D G Godse.
Mr. Nadkarni concludes:
"...तसं झालं असतं तर 'बहुरूपी' (चिंतामणराव कोल्हटकर) आणि 'मुखवटय़ांचे जग' (नटवर्य नानासाहेब फाटक) या तोडीच्या नाटय़ग्रंथांत आणखी एकाची भर पडली असती. आताचा 'झिम्मा' आठवणींचा आढावा म्हणूनच लक्षात राहील..." [...had that happened another book of the quality of 'Bahurupi' (Chintamanrao Kolhatkar) and 'Mukhavatyanche Jag' (Natvarya Nanasaheb Phatak) would have been added to the books on drama. Current 'Zimma' will be remembered for summary of memoirs...]'
This conclusion and 'उदात्त एपिक क्षणांच्या ठिणग्या' reminded me of this cartoon:
Artist: Robert J. Day, The New Yorker, March 14 1959