Marathi Community in Sydney was treated with a feast of plays in the recent past. MASI (Marathi Association of Sydney Incorporated) played a stellar role in providing this feast.
Maharashtra Day in Sydney was celebrated with cultural activities which included two one act plays: ‘Khas Apalyasathi’ (Especially for you) and ‘Noopuri’ (Noopuri is a girl’s name).
This was followed by a three act play on 25th June: ‘CharChoughi’ (Foursome).
I was privileged to be in the audience on both the days and enjoyed all the three plays though for various reasons.
First, about Noopuri.
Noopuri has a revolutionary theme. It is based on an emotional turmoil of the parents of a daughter who needs a bone marrow transplant and the issues arising out of that turmoil. They both have different views on how to handle the challenge and the socio-political pressures add to their turmoil. The play was directed by Yogesh Pophale, a newcomer in Sydney, who had excelled in India on stage. Yogesh handled this sensitive issue very competently and excelled in the role of Rahul Dixit (the father). Hemangi Kale, another newcomer in Sydney was a match to him in the role of Meghana Dixit (the mother). Mrugaja Karandikar gave a heart touching performance as the girl who wants to help the couple in need.
The play ‘Khas Apalyasathi’ was about typical arguments between husband and wife (played by real life husband and wife Sachin and Sharvari Bhave). It was light entertainment.
Behind the scene team for both the one act plays, even though it consisted newcomers to Sydney, was very competent. Mandar Gore (who managed sound and lights), entire backstage team (who arranged the stage) and Sachin Bhave (who handled direction as well as music direction in Noopuri) excelled in their roles.
These talented newcomers have lifted the bar in Marathi stage, a bar, which was already high.
CharChoughi also has revolutionary theme. It is a story of a mother and three daughters, all unusual women. While they are unusual, each of them is unusual in a different way. It is a challenging and difficult play to stage. It is based on socio-psychological issues confronting women. The play was directed by veteran director Sanjay Lele. There were enormous challenges in staging the play because of Covid. Sanjay, with his, usual calmness and tranquillity, handled them competently and presented this difficult play with aplomb.
The actors of CharChoughi included some who have graced stage in Sydney often such as Lalita Kanetkar (who excelled in the role of a strong mother), Dhanashree Karandikar (who played a difficult role of an assertive woman, deeply hurt by her husband, with an extraordinary ease), Manasi Gore (who played the role of a wife with a good for nothing husband skilfully) and others who were new to Sydney but had excelled on stage in India such as Mrugaja Karandikar (who played a revolutionary youngster -Veeni fluently), Saurabh Datar and Sachin Bhave (who competently portrayed the two lovers of Veeni).
Behind the scene team of CharChoughi was a mix of veterans as well as newcomers. Want of space means I cannot do justice to all but would like to make of a special mention of Kedar Malgaonkar (a youngster who is not fluent in Marathi but directed music so well), Sagar Agashe (a veteran who managed sound and lights; Sagar is well known in Indian as well as other communities in Australia in this field) and Bhushan Karandikar (a veteran who arranged stage, with his team)
Highest compliment was paid to these plays by visitors from India who were present on both the days: some of them said the plays were as good as any we see in Mumbai and Pune.
Well done! My standing ovation.