PUNE: “As difficult it is to prepare ‘Puranpoli’ – a famous Maharashtrian delicacy, it is equally difficult to do comedy. Comedy has many layers. The skill is to generate laughter with the use of appropriate words and sentences, by using pauses at the right time during dialogue delivery, and by avoiding below-the-belt jokes based on language, without compromising its quality. If I am being labeled as an artist who does comedy, then I take pride in it,” expressed Prashant Damle, a noted actor and producer.
Damle is entitled to receive the prestigious ‘Vishnudas Bhave award as the youngest theater artist to ever receive this honor. Regarding the same backdrop, he interacted with the members of the Press on various topics related to Marathi theater at CC& Company, Prabhat Road, Pune.
While speaking on the occasion, Damle said, “I’ve been doing theater for 40 years now, and working in Marathi theater gives me an immense amount of joy. I never get tired of it because I’ve converted my hobby into my work. I’ve done 12,793 shows to date. But I believe that there’s a long way to reach more enthusiasts, as only 2 to 2.5 crore out of the 12-13 crore population in Maharashtra are theater geeks for real.”
Responding to the questions of whether the number of topics and the quality of theater has increased post the Covid times, Damle said, “I think, everyone got a chance to introspect themselves during the pandemic. It helped to throw light upon what an artist or a director can do differently. Pre-Covid, 50 to 60 plays were presented yearly, out of which only 3 or 4 worked well. In today’s times if 8 to 9 plays of 60 to 70 turn out to be good, is a relatively good response. When it comes to Marathi theater, everyone is working sincerely. Good plays are getting good responses from the audiences too. Overall, I think Marathi theater is doing well.”
“Marathi theater has seen a lot of ups and downs at different levels but has firmly faced it all. In the initial post-Covid period we started with doing shows only on the weekends. Now, we do shows on Mondays and Wednesdays as well, which counts as an important thing for us. Many things are normalized at their true senses now,” opined Prashant Damle, an acclaimed film and theater personality.
He also asserted that, 20 to 25 years ago, connoisseurs came to the theaters because of the popularity of an institution. Now that the trend has changed, they come to the shows for the artists. This is why maintaining the audience size has now become the artist’s responsibility.
“Today, Marathi Films and Theaters are facing challenges to get staged. If four like-minded people come together and create one play, three plays can be reduced. We need to understand that this art needs to be created while maintaining its standards and not letting it compromise in its quality,” shared Prashant Damle.
“Even if there are 92 centers in Maharashtra, only 48 or 49 places have theaters, out of which only one theater is regarded with A grade. It is the Government’s responsibility to provide basic facilities while the audience’s responsibility to use the theaters in the appropriate way. At the same time, it is the duty of the artists to present good quality art there. Overall, it is all of us who must carry forward this tradition together,” said Damle.