Meet Mohit Takalkar, the accidental director
Mohit Takalkar, theatre director, likes to refer to himself as a jack of all trades. Takalkar is the founder of Aasakta Kala Manch, an experimental theatre group based in Pune. The director and playwright is also famous for his various other skills such as cooking, restaurant management, film editing and screenplay writing.
Takalkar is known for his extensively creative side and the same is visible through his many accolades and awards with the latest one being Homi Bhabha Fellow 2016 -2018. He was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi - Ustaad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2017, Shankar Nag Theatre Award for the year 2015 as well as the Charles Wallace Scholar for the year 2009-2010.
Takalkar will be seen in new play for the Vinod Doshi theatre festival also known as Sarang theatre festival which will begin in February 2019.
“The play is called Chaheta or ‘The Beloved’. It is written by Aamir Nizar Zoabi and it is going to be interesting to put it play together for the festival,” said Takalkar who was not at the liberty to divulge more information.This will be the 33rd play for Aasakta kala manch, which began as a non profit organisation in 2003 to produce contemporary theatre productions.
“The idea was to explore theatre and express ourselves through it, we keep experimenting to broaden our perspective of theatre,” said Takalkar.“The word Aasakta is not a positive word, it is more of a longing, a passion towards theatre the way I see it.”
This concept began at the spur of a the moment but carried on as many actors have been part of this movement like Radhika Apte, Sagar Deshmukh, Pradeep Vaidya, Ashish Mehta, Varun Narvekar, Sarang Sathe, and Omkar Govardhan.Reminiscing the past,Takalkar said, “I got into direction and theatre by accident. My first play ‘Yayati’ in 1999 was to be directed by someone else but he had to pull out.
Since this play was for the Rajya Natya Spardha, and they have a rule that states if a team cancels last minute, they will be not allowed to participate for the next two years.Hence, I went ahead and directed the play.” Yayati went on to win a state award for the Pune division.“Even though I had completed by education at Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) Mumbai, I found my calling in theatre.
I love to be in a room full of people, and enjoyed learning cooking and hospitality tricks there.When on stage, I enjoy the state of exploring and intrigue.I like being in the state of unknown while directing or participating in a production,” added Takalkar.The initial plays Takalkar performed in were written by director-writer Sachin Kundalkar, but after he got busy with film projects and Takalkar turned to books, novels and short stories for inspiration.
Most of his experimental plays or as he calls them ‘contemporary’ plays have been based on novels and short stories.“I am very impulsive and instinctive, I make decisions at the spur of a moment, but my plays resonates with the world.”Though Takalkar regrets not having taken up children’s theatre, Shakespeare’s literature or venturing into broadways and musicals.
Takalkar also felt that scholarships and accolades helped him get the exposure he needed,“Libraries opened up for me, I travelled around world, saw plays which were not limited to space, content or language.I also got to explore plays as a visual treat.