An exhibition of rare photographs of veteran Marathi theatre personalities in their youth performing 19th century classics will be inaugurated on Tuesday at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) ahead of the second edition of Pratibimb, a Marathi theatre festival that will begin on Friday.
Titled 'The Golden Age of Marathi Theatre', it has around 110 photographs of stalwarts such as Vijaya Mehta, Prabhakar Panshikar and Sriram Lagoo from the collection of the state government's directorate of cultural affairs and will be open to public from August 3 to August 9 at the Piramal Gallery at the NCPA.
"When we were ideating on how to boost Pratibimb 2, we considered an exhibition of local handicrafts and a photo exhibition," said Deepa Gahlot, head of programming for music and theatre at the NCPA. "The state government's department of cultural affairs came forward with their collection and organised the exhibition at the NCPA gallery."
The selection has pictures of the staging of landmark plays such as Ithe Oshalala Mrutyu (Death was ashamed here) and Himalayachi Sawli (Shadow of the Himalayas) and others, written from 1868 till 1950s. After the 1950s, one strand of Marathi theatre artists began experimenting with modernism, led by Vijay Tendulkar, while the other continued with traditional drama.
"These photographs were shot during the state's annual drama competitions over the years," said Dilip Shinde, director of cultural affairs. "Many theatre personalities used to perform in these competitions and the photographs are a treasure."
The department celebrated 50 years of the competition last year. It had initially stored the images at Ravindra Natya Mandir in Prabhadevi.
Over the years some of the prints have been damaged and will be restored and kept in digitised format soon, Shinde said.