Vijay Tendulkar’s iconic play Sakharam Binder, which has even been adapted and staged off the Broadway, premieres in English in the city today
Acclaimed playwright Vijay Tendulkar’s path breaking play Sakharam Binder has been performed by various theatre groups in diverse languages across India. The story about Sakharam, a book binder who abuses women sexually and emotionally in post colonial India and claims to give them freedom, has caught the fancy of even foreign theatre groups and directors. The piece has been staged Off-Broadway, as the closing play at the month-long Tendulkar Festival in New York and also by a Northern California-based theatre group.
Sakharam Binder which was first written by Tendulkar in 1972, is now premiering in English in Mumbai.
Dr Rajesh Nahar, a cancer specialist based in the United States and a theatre aficionado, plays the protagonist and is also producing the play. Forty-eight-year-old Nahar, who grew up in Kolkata, was interested in acting since childhood. After completing his schooling, he shifted to the US for further studies. His love for acting was reignited after he acted in a short film, a parody based on The Twilight Saga, which was directed by one of his Jewish medical partners. The movie that was uploaded on YouTube got a good response and beckoned Nahar back to acting.
He says, “I told my medical partners that I wanted to take a sabbatical from my practice for five years and focus only on acting. Thankfully, they agreed.” Nahar returned to India in 2012 to explore acting opportunities. Last year when he met actor-director Yogesh Pagare, the duo decided to work on the English version of Sakharam Binder. Nahar says, “I wasn’t familiar with the piece. I read it when I auditioned for the role in New York for a play that was being directed by a German Ethiopian director. I was selected but 12 days into the rehearsal, I parted ways with the director as both of us had different takes on the subject. However, I was quite taken in by Sakharam’s flawed character. When I met Yogesh and shared the idea, he was excited and we decided to collaborate.”
Pagare, who has acted in plays and television serials and has also helmed some productions, explains that they haven’t changed the script at all. “We are sticking as close as possible to the original script. Though the play is in English, we are retaining its Marathi flavour by using costumes, props and some Marathi words. Also, we decided to stage Sakharam Binder in English as we wanted to reach out to those people who are not familiar with Marathi.”
Plans are afoot to stage the production, which apart from Nahar, also stars Sharbani Mukherjee, Gulki Joshi and Sanjiv Srikar, across the country.
Bookbinder Sakharam leaves his home when he is 11 as his parents deprive him of love. When he grows up, he doesn’t respect women. He has a live-in relationship with the god-fearing Laxmi. After a year, he kicks her out of the house. His next catch is the bold and sensual Champa. The story takes an unexpected turn when Laxmi returns to Sakharam’s life and his relationship with Champa is strained. The drama unfolds through a complex web of relationships leading to a shocking twist in the tale.