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Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Amrut Samak, founder director of Rangabhasha, talks about its initiative Patra Nimmitamatra, which involves dramatised reading of letters exchanged between Marathi litterateurs, G A Kulkarni and 
Sunita Deshpande

Ironically, of all the places, it’s on the popular social media sites that the erudite and articulate users are mourning the death of grammar and English language, with memes like ‘Rest in peas’. Keeping pace with the fast changing times, a raised thumb and winking, smiling emojis do the work of keying in coherent, meaningful sentences.

Therefore, when Rangabhasha organisation comes up with a Patra Nimmitamatra series, which involves dramtised reading of letters written by Marathi litterateur, 

G A Kulkarni and artist-writer Sunitabai Deshpande, you are suddenly brimming with words to express your emotions. A good sign! 

Amrut Samak, who is founding director of Rangabhasha, a centre for performing and fine arts, says, “I founded Rangabhasha in 2015 to serve two aims; one was to spread art education and the second was to provide meaningful and engaging entertainment. The kind of entertainment that is flourishing now has stooped to superficial levels. Abusing, pulling gags, pranks is where our humour quotient stands now. I think we need to go beyond this. It doesn’t do justice to our creative, literary legacy.” 

The concept of Patra Nimmitamatra too emerged out of this exercise. “In January, I had held a workshop on dramatised reading or abhivachan. During our last session, we were brain-storming on how to devise something new, creative within the format of dramatised reading and it was at that point, one of the participants, Vaishali Kanaskar, came up with this idea. We thought of having a series of readings. In February-March, we approached the people concerned for permissions. Sunitabai’s books are with IUCAA and now we have permission for a year, until March 2020,” says Samak, who has produced Aparibhashik, a play, as a part of Rangabhasha’s initiative to promote art education, and a reading of former Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s poetry collection, Arghya. 

When asked what about Patra Nimmitamatra attracted him, the theatre artist replies, “The back and forth of the letters between GA and Sunitabai is very important as they talk of personalities, art forms, books, and their innermost feelings. These letters are of high literary value and that’s what attracted us. In the digital era, we are concentrating on emojis, and losing out on dialogues. Their era was different, they could devote time. We wanted to experience that era and their exchange and therefore we are very excited about this. We plan to have 12 episodes between July and December and the first episode held in July, featured Shubhangi Damle and Dheeresh Joshi reading the letters. We have about 65 letters written by G A and Sunitabai and we plan to read five or six in each episode.” 

This exercise also helped the artists rediscover G A, who in his lifetime was labelled recluse. His writing too was considered high brow and incomprehensible. “Through his letters,” says Samak, “hopefully G A will become more accessible. People might like to read G A again. Also, his writing has references of many people, like Madhav Achwal, who the youngsters might not know of. They might be intrigued to read about these people, to find out more, which is what we want.”

As a part of the series, Samak is also requesting his audience to convey their feedback through postcards. They are also requesting laypersons and artists to shoot videos talking about the letters they have written. The second episode which will be staged on August 3 will feature Vaishali Kanaskar and Gajanan Paranjape and it has been directed by Samak. 

Watch the second episode Patra Nimmitamatra at Sudarshan Rangmanch, Shaniwar Peth, on August 3, 7 pm

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