Three questions with Ramu Ramanathan, writer of play 'Mahadevbhai'
Q. What, according to you, are some of the reasons why the play has completed 300 shows, particularly in this day and age?
A. The main reason is Jaimini Pathak, the actor and producer and go-getter for all the 300 shows. I recall the reviews by Jayant Pawar in Maharashtra Times (Marathi) and Utpal Bhayani in Janmabhoomi (Gujarati) after the opening
show at YB Chavan Centre. Then, there was adverse feedback from a couple of theatre greats like Naseeruddin Shah and Vijay Tendulkar.
The play is directed and performed by Jaimini Pathak
I told Jaimini, ‘shut the thing down; it’s a *#^@ing fiasco’. Fortunately, Jaimini is made of sterner stuff than I, and he waged the battle. It’s been a single-handed battle. Kudos to his indefatigable sprit.
Q. Looking back, what were some of the reasons why you chose to stage a play based on this
unique character in Indian history?
A. Mahadev Desai and Gandhi are both men for our times. The play transpires hundred years ago, but the anxiety about the rising wealth inequality, which is on the ascendancy, imperils the future of this nation. The play deploys years of historical data to right the wrongs plus allay some of the misconceptions about Mohandas.
Ramu Ramanathan, writer of the play
Q. How are the principles that are mentioned in the play relevant even today, without sounding preachy or hitting the high moral ground?
A. Power is blind. Be it the British Empire then or what we are seeing now. The play reminds us that we need to be vigilant. Since the past devours the future. Gandhi and Mahadevbhai show us the path.
Last week, Jaimini Pathak’s play, Mahadevbhai, completed 300 shows, including several having been performed at international venues such as the World Book Fair in Frankfurt, Waterman’s Theatre and the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London, and the University of Strasbourg, France.