A Bold Step


Theatre actor-director Girish Deshpande is restaging 'Avadhya', a Marathi play that created controversy 41 years back

Back in the year 1971, when veteran actor-director Amol Palekar performed the play 'Avadhya' for the first time, the reactions of the audiences were mostly negative. C T Khanolkar's play, 'Avadhya' (The Unvanquished), which dealt with the theme of depicting love-making on-stage was met with fierce criticism and a ban. When theatre actor-director Girish Deshpande re-enacted the play at the Balgandharva Auditorium, almost four decades after the original play was staged, the changing nature of society ensured that it was not just met with critical acclaim but also ran house-full. Encouraged by the response, Deshpande has already performed it 23 times across Mumbai and Pune. Deshpande is presenting 'Avadhya' at the Yashwantrao Chavan Auditorium on September 2.

"Back then a wide generation gap, narrow thought processes and a general aversion to depicting the truth on stage were the reasons why the play not only suffered an unjust ban but also saw the actors and the director being threatened. Times have changed now," he says.

The play details the lives of a writer and a young couple who are staying in a lodge in two separate rooms. The play is a fantastical take on the subject of life, love, lust and the general perversion of the human mind. Three respectable looking middle-class men come uninvited to the writer, Gangadhar Gaitonde's room to peep through a hole in the wall at the couple making love. "People always take a lot of interest in talking about these things but showing them their true face in the mirror is anathema," says Deshpande, adding, "Same was the case then. The only difference is now-a-days people have become more mature and talking about sex is not a behind the doors thing for them."

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