Amid political noise and police protection, the controversial Marathi play ‘Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy’ opened to a packed house at Ram Ganesh Gadkari Rangayatan in Thane (West), where it was staged after a period of 10 years, on Thursday.
Two platoons of the state reserve police force and 350 local policemen apart from senior officers manned the premises and cordoned off the area surrounding the theatre. The activists of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress led a protest march against the play and its protagonist. Some activists who managed to enter the theatre were whisked away by the policemen.
Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy, written by Pradeep Dalvi and produced by Uday Dhurat, was first staged in 1997. It had a successful run of 13 shows but was, then, banned by the Maharashtra government for its alleged controversial content. Dhurat approached the high court in 1998. The permission for staging the play was granted in 2001.
The play was staged at Gadkari Rangayatan in April 2001. However, it ran into trouble as the Congress and NCP activists protested against the play. Since then, the curtains for the play have been down in Thane.
Said Dhurat: “The tension in the atmosphere has brought back memories of April 2001. The protestors are not against any particular scene. They are against the usage of ‘Nathuram’. I request them to see the play once before objecting to it.” Dhurat plans to meet chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and NCP president Sharad Pawar.
Meanwhile, the play elicited reactions from political circles. While NCP corporator Najib Mulla said it was shameful, Congress activists have asked the producer and director to answer the questions posed by Dr YD Phadke in his book ‘Nathuramayan’ and have claimed to gift Rs1 crore if they manage to do so.
Adopting a neutral stand, Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde said, “The Congress-NCP activists can approach the Supreme Court instead of protesting.”