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Purushottam Karandak, a launch pad for artistes

For decades, the inter-collegiate one-act play competition has been serving as a platform for new talents to perform before society and get due recognition

pune Updated: Jul 23, 2017 13:42 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Purushottam Karandak,inter-collegiate,one-act play
College students performing a play at Purushottam Karandak event at Bharat Natya Mandir.(HT FILE PHOTO)

The year 1963 was the first time a one-act inter-collegiate play competition was held. This was all possible because of Maharashtriya Kalopasak, an organisation started by teachers of the Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya in 1936, who loved drama so much that they began organising inter-school children’s play competitions. These competitions were held for more than 15 years and stopped only when the state government began organising inter-school competitions.

Founding members of the Kalopasak, Purushottam Ramchandra Vaze aka Appasaheb, Bhagwanrao Pandit, Prabhudas Bhupatkar, Keshavrao Date and Mahamopadhyay Datto Vaman Potdar thought of creating an inter-collegiate competition. “Back then, there was only one competition called ‘Walvekar Trophy’, which was also more like a social gathering where Marathi plays from all colleges would be performed and a committee would judge and award the best play. Besides this, there were the Rajya Natya Spardha and Kamgar Kalyan Spardha,” explains Rajendra Thakurdeasai, secretary, Maharashtra Kalopasak.

The trend of one-act play competitions had already begun in Mumbai, and soon caught up with Pune. It was in 1962 when Vaze expired; it was a big blow to the theatre industry. Rajabhau Natu, a stalwart in experimental theatre, then suggested that the inter-collegiate one-act play competition be dedicated to Vaze’s memories, thus establishing Purushottam Karandak.

Before Vaze expired, there was an idea to organise an event called ‘Roupya Mahotsav’ on behalf of Kalopasak. However that idea took a backseat during the Panshet floods, but when things settled down, a search began in earnest for a way to keep the memory of Appasaheb alive forever.

The idea of the competition was that it would be apt in all aspects to judge with transparency and this is what this competition has been doing for the past 54 years. “Purushottam Karandak offers such a platform for college students to be active in every field of dramatics, from staging a play, to writing the script, set design, lighting and direction.

In this compeitition, new talent gets a chance to perform before society and get due recognition. What sets this competition apart from others is its consistency and the rules and regulations that are strictly followed. Actor Amey Wagh, who came into the limelight through the Purushottam Karandak competition, said the competition is a great platform for experimentation by amateur artists.

This competition has given to the world of theatre and cinema many of its actors. Dr Jabbar Patel, Vikram Gokhale, Mohan Gokhale, Sonali Kulkarni, Upendra Limaye, Subodh Bhave and many more. Irrespective of their association with theatre as a medium, they all cherished their Purushottam days, of reharshals, of group building and get-togethers.

The first competition was held in the Fergusson College amphitheatre and continued for the next five to six years. It later shifted to BMCC for a year in 1970 -1971 but then onwards Bharat Natya Mandir is till date the auditorium where histories have been created.

In 1963, there were only nine colleges participating for the first ever Purushottam Karandak and BJ Medical College won the very first year with a play written by Vijay Tendulkar Bali which was directed by Dr Jabbar Patel. Gradually the number of colleges participating also increased to 15 colleges while now there are 51 colleges participating with 25 colleges on waiting list. We can accommodate only 51 colleges as per the schedule which is for 17 days with three plays in show timings. The importance of this competition is its criteria that you should be a student and everything is given importance; writing, direction and acting. The students pay an entry fee of ₹500 now as compared to when it began which was ₹51. The primary rounds begin from August 8, 2017.

First Published: Jul 23, 2017 13:40 IST