Theatre doyen Urmil Kumar Thapliyal no more
Lucknow Playwright, author, poet, performer, satirist, theatre personality and a lot more, Urmil Kumar Thapliyal (78) passed away in Lucknow on Tuesday evening.
Thapliyal gave everything he had to revive Nautanki in stage plays, said Anil Rastogi, a senior theatre artist and television actor.
His death was a huge loss to the theatre world and a big blow to ‘Darpan’ theatre group as he was one of the founding members, Rastogi said.
In his last interview to this newspaper in 2019, Thapliyal had said, “Nautanki is one of the treasures of our culture. I have given all and will continue to give my all to save this art form. If only a few artists from this generation stand up for this art form, a lot more can be done to save Nautanki.”
Rastogi said, “My regret is that Urmil, who was a part of our upcoming Marathi play Katha, will never be able to perform now.”
Born in 1943 in Dhaudhan Mason village in the Garhwal hills of the present-day Uttarakhand, Urmil Kumar Thapliyal began dabbling in theatre at an early age, as an actor in Ramlilas staged in Dehradun and adjoining areas. He learnt Garhwali and Kumaoni folk music during his formative years as an actor-director. He was the founder-director of ‘Darpan’, a theatre group of Lucknow.
He relocated to Lucknow in 1965 when he got a job in All India Radio as a newsreader. He completed Ph D in dialectical theatre from Lucknow University which brought him closer to the city as well as to theatre.
Thapliyal directed around 140 plays for Darpan and other groups, moulding traditional theatre forms in his productions. Among notable plays written and directed by him are ‘Harishchanner ki Ladai,’ ‘Nagri Nautanki,’ ‘Choon-choon ka Murabba,’ ‘Barkha Bahar,’ ‘Mahasati’, ‘Ladkiyan’, ‘Ek Chawanni Chandi ki’, ‘Shaheedon ne Lau Lagai Jo’, ‘Pyare Harichand ki Kahani Rah Jayegi’ and ‘Bhaunri Katha’ — all produced in the manner of Nautanki. His significant contribution lies, however, in giving a new lease of life to traditional theatre forms such as Nautanki, Swang and Bhagat.
Thapliyal was also a prolific writer. Besides drama, he wrote stories, plays and satire published in Hans, Saptahik Hindustan, Dharmayug, and other Hindi periodicals. He also wrote columns in newspapers including Hindustan, as well as a number of radio and television scripts. He worked as chief news reader at the Lucknow station of All India Radio.
For his varied work in the field of theatre, Thapliyal was honoured with an award and also a fellowship by the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Academy. He was given the coveted Yash Bharti award for his immense contributions in the field of theatre.