Unlocking Elkunchwar

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A documentary on playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar will be screened in the city on Friday

In his introduction to Old Stone Mansion (Wada Chirebandi), Samik Bandyopadhyay gives us a hint as to what triggered Mahesh Elkunchwar to write his eponymous Marathi novel.
‘It was (Satyadev) Dubey who told Elkunchwar about a friend of his who had bought a tractor, which he never came to use and would never have the heart to sell off. The tractor had sunk into the ground, broken to pieces, but the family never used it. He gave me this image and the play took shape...the tractor image started a thought process and the characters started taking shape.’ The basic experience that underlies the play is common to all those parts of India where caste orthodoxy and feudalism still fight a losing battle against the inroads of a consumer economy.’

This excerpt is from the book on the script of the play published by Seagull Books, under its ‘New Indian Playwrights’ series. It is an attempt to introduce Elkunchwar and his theatre compatriots like Satish Alekar, Vijay Tendulkar, Utpal Dutt and Badal Sircar to wider audiences. 

In a similar attempt a documentary commissioned by Sahitya Akademi, on Elkunchwar, tries to shed light on his work and his approach. It will be screened in the city on the evening of March 30, by Arbhaat Short Film Club.

Directed by Mohit Takalkar, the original 83-minute documentary, titled Chirebandi (A Chiseled Stone) features those people who have watched and followed the Nagpur-based writer’s works. Ashish Mehta, who was the executive producer of the documentary, says, “Mahesh Elkunchwar is a fellow of Sahitya Akademi and therefore a film was commissioned on him. We started working on it in later half of 2017. In this documentary, we have Samik Bandyopadhyay, Shanta Gokhale, Vijaya Mehta, Girish Karnad discussing Elkunchwar’s plays, short and long essays, what influenced his thoughts etc. The writer too shares his perspective on it. The documentary attempts to take the audience close to his writing, demystify his approach towards play writing.” 

Filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni, who is the co-founder of Arbhaat Film Club, says, “We have always tried to showcase the best short films and documentaries from the world to create awareness amongst young film-makers about the different ways in which the short film medium can be explored. Chirebandi is a multi-layered film featuring the playwright himself, archival footage and interviews presenting a thoughtful and creative film biography/essay on Mahesh Elkunchwar.”

ST Reader Service 
A documentary Chirebandi will be screened by Arbhaat Short Film Club on March 30, 6:30 pm, at the Main auditorium of NFAI, Law College Road. The screening is open for all with preference to registered members

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