The accolades are pouring on the timeline of Abhiram Bhadkamkar’s FB account after his name was announced as the winner of Sangeet Natak Akademi’s award for play writing. Most of the wishes have come in from those who he has mentored and others are his contemporaries and batchmates. This alone tells us that a right choice has been made.
A National School of Drama graduate in acting, Abhiram Bhadkamkar has enjoyed and excelled at, both writing and acting. When asked about it, the Mumbai-based theatre and film personality, says, “I have simultaneously been writing and acting. The earliest recognition for my writing came through inter-collegiate play competitions like Purushottam Karandak in which I won a few awards.”
Abhiram has penned critically acclaimed and popular plays like Hasat Khelat, Pahuna, Jyacha Tyacha Prashna, Dehbhan and Sukhanshi Bhandto Aamhi. They have also been translated into Hindi and Gujarati and performed all over Maharashtra and Delhi. He has also articulated his thoughts on literature, music and socio-political issues and the same have been published in regional publications and magazines.
A veteran who has written for print, theatre and films, Abhiram has also been in the role of a mentor for young artists participating in one act play competitions. Talking about this role, Abhiram says, “I think the writing that is seen and presented at college level competition for one act plays is good. The kids are taking risks in their work, choosing different subjects. What needs to be addressed though is helping them explore more of the world that they have chosen as their themes. That can be done by creating the right atmosphere, getting the seniors and the youth together.”
Abhiram himself looks up to the feedback from the youth for his work. He has finished writing the first draft of his Hindi play, Adhipati, which is based on the Kathak tradition and plans to have a few readings with his friends, contemporaries and young theatre aspirants. “The views of the young theatre practitioners, those participating in competitions are important for me because they have a fresh perspective; they know the ‘now’. It’s important for me to know if my writing is fresh or outdated,” he adds.
Besides this play, Abhiram is also working on an untitled novel, due to be published this year. He has also scripted two movies for Mahesh Manjrekar, which are ready for release. “One is titled Mee Shivaji Park, based on the lives of senior citizen. And, another is called Wada. I am also bringing out an ebook on my articles and columns written so far. My friend, Abhishek Marathe, is helping me in this,” adds Abhiram.
The amount and diversity of his work is mind-boggling, but Abhiram enjoys the challenge that each medium brings. “I like writing for both novels and dramas. A novel gives you freedom to write as you please, allows you to add characters, gives you a bigger canvas. Theatre can also allow you a bigger canvas but there are certain limitations like the locations have to be less, people/characters have to be few etc. But there is a fun writing in those limitations,” he says.
Speaking on adaptation of plays into movies like we have seen happening of late in Hindi cinema, Abhiram opines, “Adaptations can certainly be done. I think Hindi cinema is gradually moving from being actor-oriented to being script/story oriented. And, so it has turned its attention to novels, plays etc for content. In Hollywood too, we find good adaptations of plays to big screen. A case in point is My Fair Lady which has been based on G B Shaw’s Pygmallion. Shakespeare’s Hamlet has also been adapted well and that too several times. While working on theatre and films, the writer needs to translate one experience and expression in multiple forms.” Well said!
Other Sangeet Natak Akademi award winners are:
Sunil Shanbag for Direction
Bapi Bose for Direction
Hema Singh for Acting
Deepak Tiwari for Acting
Anil Tickoo for Acting
Nuruddin Ahmed for Allied Theatre Arts - Stage Craft
Avtaar Sahani for Allied Theatre Arts - Lighting
Shougrakapam Hemanta Singh for Other Major Traditions of Theatre - Shumang Leela