Meet Pune’s Nipun Dharmadhikari. The 21-year-old theatre director staged a delightful comedy Dalan, for the annual youth theatre festival, Thespo at Juhu’s Prithvi Theatre, last month. The new-fangled stage adaptation of D M Mirasdar’s short story swept all the major awards including the Best Play at the festival.
The Dalan team felt that they might hit a language barrier or face a lean audience because they were performing at the Prithvi, Dharmadhikari says, “ We had mentally prepared ourselves to perform in front of a minimal audience.. that we got an almost full house was a humbling experience.”
This Sunday, Dharmadhikari’s 65-minute production returns to the city for the launch of Wide Angle Auditorium in Vile Parle. The new auditorium is a collective effort of the theatre fraternity. Theatre director, Sunil Shanbag says, “The aim is to develop the space into a vibrant cultural hub. Over time, we hope it will become a viable space for our kind of theatre, be it in any language.”
For the young theatre troupe, mainly from Pune’s BMCC College, to be invited to perform Dalan for the event has been an emotional upper.
Dharmadhikari first heard the story, on which the play is based, while he was studying in school. It deals with a tyrannical teacher who arrives at his new posting in a Maharahstra village and has to contend with a prank-happy bunch of schoolchildren. To complicate matters, the teacher is irresistibly attracted to the mother of one of the students.
Dharmadhikari, a commerce graduate who hopes to be a chartered accountant, has a natural flair for comedy. His previous works include Cycle, Lose Control, and Charu Aaro Ityadi. “However, I’d like to believe with Dalan, I have raised the bar of my own work..however little that may be, I feel as if I’ve evolved as a director,” he states. Among his influences, he cites the names of Arun Kakade, Satyadev Dubey, Chetan Datar, Sandesh Kulkarni, Satish Alekar, Shashank Shende, Atul Pethe and Quasar Thakore Padamsee.
Next, he plans to direct Dharmakirti Sumant’s play based on the conflicts faced by today’s youth.“What’s the deal? Are we misguided? Are we going wrong somewhere or are we just lost?” he asks.