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Revisit a rare genius: A theatre fest celebrates Makarand Deshpande

Ansh theatre group’s inaugural festival is being staged at Prithvi Theatre.

mumbai Updated: Jul 28, 2017 17:58 IST
Deepa Gahlot
Deepa Gahlot
Hindustan Times
Makarand Deshpande,Ansh,Prithvi
Sir Sir Sarla, one of Makarand Deshpande’s most well-known plays, will be staged as part of Darshak Utsav.
Darshak Utsav festival featuring plays by Makarand Deshpande
  • When: July 29 and 30
  • Where: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu
  • For the full schedule, go to

It is rare that a theatre group has a festival dedicated to the audience. Makarand Deshpande’s Ansh named their festival Darshak Utsav. And Deshpande’s audience deserves that hat-tip, because they have stayed loyal to him, even though his work has, over the last two decades or so, teased, baffled, and sometimes tormented them.

“Of course, the audience is part of my journey, I also think everybody’s journey starts as an audience,” Deshpande says. “Whether it’s Satyadev Dubey or Naseeruddin Shah, they were first part of an audience and then became theatre greats.”

In his early days as producer, playwright, director, actor, Deshpande was restless and hugely prolific. He always opened his plays at Prithvi Theatre and never had long runs because there were too many ideas in his head and many plays to be written — all on paper, in neat long hand. Sometimes the ideas were intriguing, often he did not have the patience to see them to their logical conclusion; logic did not interest him, the dream-like aesthetics of his work did.

But there was that something special about his plays that challenged actors. Ratna Pathak Shah, Saurabh Shukla, Shekhar Suman, Sonali Kulkarni, Mita Vashist, Kay Kay Menon, Anurag Kashyap, Sudhir Pande and Yashpal Sharma have acted in them, because his creative madness is infectious. The audience sensed that too.

It was much later that he calmed down and started writing more accessible plays and also developed the patience to have longer runs. Some of them like Miss Beautiful, Sir Sir Sarla, Karodon Mein Ek, are part of Darshak Utsav.

First Published: Jul 28, 2017 17:58 IST