Up close with the poet

Ambika Shaligram
Friday, 7 July 2017

ST Reader Service 
Srujanrang, a collection of poems and novellas written by Pu Shi Rege, will be read out at Maharashtra Cultural Centre’s Sudarshan Rangmanch on Saturday, 7 pm, and on Sunday, 6 pm. Rekha Sane-Inamdar will be releasing Pramod Kale’s book Na Yeti Uttare Aani Shokparva at Sudarshan Rangmanch. Both the events are not ticketed

In an attempt to introduce youngsters to good literature, Maharashtra Cultural Centre is organising Srujanrang in which poet Pu Shi Rege’s works will be read out. Theatre veteran Pramod Kale tells us more about it.

Serious literary readers might take umbrage, if we say, ‘Had Pu Shi Rege worked in this era, he might be branded a ‘feminist’ poet’. Or ‘instapoet’ by active social media users. This is not to demean the modern Marathi littérateur, but to emphasise how his writing — whether poems, novellas or short stories — are quite contemporary.

Born ahead of his time, Rege (1910-1978) managed to carve his distinct identity amongst literary heavyweights like Indira Sant, Vinda Karandikar, Kusumagraj, Balkavi and others. In an attempt to introduce Rege and his works to youngsters, Maharashtra Cultural Centre (MCC) will be hosting a programme Srujanrang in which the poet’s works — poems and stories — will be read out to the audience this evening (July 8) at Sudarshan Rangmanch.  

Conceptualised by Pramod Kale of MCC, 28 of Rege’s works will be presented by a young team of theatre practitioners. Talking more about this initiative, Kale says, “Srujanrang will premiere at Sudarshan Rangmanch. But the idea is to take the programme to people, host it in their homes, connect with them and other like-minded guests. We decided to start with Pu Shi Rege, because I am an admirer of his works.

Next, we will pay tribute to Ba Si Mardhekar. In fact, we have conceptualised another programme — Tu Aani Me — The tu (you) would be a lover, a child, or even god and ‘me’ would be the poet. We just hope to continue with the poetry tradition and allow youngsters to delve into good literature.” 

Rege is a good choice, because he, through short, meaningful, free verses, captured the goings-on in a woman’s mind and heart while his contemporaries penned lines on nature or gave vent to their personal anguish. “His poems are at once sensuous and divine, focusing on the ‘creativity and procreation’.  One of his poems begin with a lascivious man admiring the female form, but he ends it by talking about her maternal instinct. Another poem, Pushkala, is the best example of ‘word play’, which Rege is known for,” explains Kale.

Not just his poems, his stories too revolve around female protagonists, with the muse being ‘Radha’. “We will be reading out one extract titled Radha Kaku from Matruka and Rajammachi Goshta from Savitri. His female characters are either those who he met in real life, or those who met him in his imagination,” Kale adds. The team will also be reading out his popular long poem — Mastani — in the one-hour-thirty-minute show. 

On Sunday, Kale will also be releasing a book titled Na Yeti Uttare Aani Shokaparva — based on the scripts of his two plays. “These plays were staged about a decade ago and are quite topical even now. Na Yeti Uttare... deals with a boy’s conflict of admitting and accepting himself as gay. It also served as a ‘therapy’ for the gay community in the city, who came to watch the play in droves, and also got along their family members to tell them, ‘there is nothing wrong with us. We are not sick’. 

Shokaparva is a hypothetical play based on an imagined incident — what if Draupadi and Gandhari came face to face after the Great War. The crux is that Draupadi tells Gandhari to accept and tell the world that they were complicit in events leading to the war,” adds the veteran theatre director. To sum up, ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. 

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