Marathi creative people are keeping our cultural heritage alive: Paresh Raval

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Maharashtra Cultural Centre
from left Rajesh Deshmukh, Deepa Lagoo, Paresh Raval, Dr. Mohan Agashe and Shubhangi Damle.

A new theatre in the name of Dr. Shriam Lagoo to come up in the city

Maharashtra Cultural Centre takes the lead in developing this theatre on the Black Box concept

PUNE: The people of Maharashtra have immensely contributed to keeping the art and culture alive in the state and the country, noted actor and chairman of the National School of Drama, Padma Shri Paresh Raval. He was in the city as a Chief Guest to mark the commencement of the work of the new theatre being developed in the name of Dr. Shriram Lagoo by the Maharashtra Cultural Center at Hirabaug in Pune. Dr. Mohan Agashe, S. P. Kulkarni, Shubhangi Damle, and Rajesh Deshmukh from the Maharashtra Cultural Center were also present along with Deepa Lagoo. The name of this upcoming theatre is Shriram Lagoo Ranga – Avakash.

I believe that if I had worked in Marathi films or theatre, my acting abilities would have been further enhanced than they are today. I would have had more opportunities to collaborate with Marathi writers, actors, and literary figures, which would have enriched my artistic journey,” said Paresh Raval, in a candid talk at the Maharashtra Cultural Centre on Monday.

Narrating some more anecdotes about his connection with the Marathi theatre, Raval said, “I remember, when the GST was being introduced, I along with Ajit Bhure and Ashok Hande (theatre personalities) went to meet the then finance minister Arun Jaitley to request him from excluding the drama industry from GST. We met him with Sharad Pawar. He (Jaitley) immediately agreed to keep theatres (drama) out of GST slabs. When I asked Pawar Saheb about such a quick response on the relaxation from Jaitley ji, Pawar Sahab said that the drama and theatre is about art and culture and it is possible to keep art and culture alive in Mumbai till there are Marathis (Maharashtrians) in Mumbai. Vadodara is known as the cultural capital of Gujarat and not surprisingly, the city also has a lot of Marathi people.

On being the chief guest for this function, Raval said he feels honored and blessed to be associated with Dr. Shriram Lagoo’s name. “As an actor, it is a great honor to be invited to mark the commencement of work for this special theatre which is in Dr. Lagoo’s name.”

In 1972, when one-act plays were in vogue, Mukund Jani offered me a one-act space based on Vijay Tendulkar’s “Gidhade,” originally performed by Dr. Lagoo. I accepted the offer, but my performance was far from satisfactory. We committed that artistic sin. Many years later, Vijay Kenkre expressed interest in creating a film based on Lagoo Sahab’s “Mitra.” I watched “Mitra” and was mesmerized by Dr. Lagoo’s remarkable performance. Vijay wished to make a film with Rekhaji and me in lead roles, but unfortunately, it didn’t come to fruition. Today, I can proudly say that I have finally found an opportunity to be associated with Dr. Lagoo due to this occasion.”

He added that while the country is making progress on all fronts there is a need to have more such cultural spaces.

I may not be a flawless actor, but I consider myself fortunate. Even before I was elected as a Member of Parliament, I had been striving to establish theatres in various places, including SNDT in Mumbai. I had discussions with Mukesh and Anil Ambani for this purpose, but for various reasons, these initiatives didn’t materialize. Eventually, a theatre in the name of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay was established with the assistance of Anandiben Patel. However, deterioration often sets in once such cultural spaces come under government control. I am glad to know that this theatre will remain under the management of creative individuals who have a passion for art”, Raval said.

Architect Madhav Hundekar from Mitimitra, an architectural firm that has been appointed to design this theatre said that the ‘Black Box Theatre’ is said to be an experiment to not only cut off the customary limitations of a usual theatre but also to let the director present his art in his own ways without any hindrances. There has always been an underlying need for such a kind of theatre, that would not have conventional limitations. ‘Rang-Avakash’ is designed in response to this need and we’ve also designed it in a way that it will be flexible for different formats of seating and public performances.”

Dr Agashe said, “Every performance needs a space. When any performance comes in that space, it becomes a theater. And with this idea, ‘Rang Avakash’ is being created. Here, different types of art forms can be performed. Even if this idea is new, it will mold with time.

Noted film actor Girish Kulkarni read some text from Lamaan, an autobiography of Dr. Shriram Lagoo, Madhav Hundekar made a concept presentation of this new, upcoming theatre and Rajesh Deshmukh proposed the vote of thanks.

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