The Existentialism of Tukaram


- Prachi Bari


        Set in a contemporary style, Atul Pethe's play on Sant Tukaram, taken from the book Anandowari, explores his dilemmas as an ordinary man and his transformation.

        Atul Pethe is all geared up to attend the National School of Drama's (NSD) International Drama Festival 2003, for the fourth time in Delhi.

        Pethe is a director, actor and a writer of repute and has been involved with theatre for more than 20 years. His play Surya Pahilela Manoos, where Dr Shriram Lagoo plays the role of Socrates, won rave reviews and was recognised at the NSD's first National festival. This time, his play Anandowari has been selected for the festival, which will also have plays from Singapore, Japan, Sri Lanka and Germany.

        Anandowari is a well known Marathi novel, written by D B Mokashi which deals with Kanoba, Sant Tukaram's younger brother, who is trying to locate Tukaram, who has disappeared. The novel deals with the spiritual journey of Tukaram, his life, revolutionary poetry and their relationship with each other.

         "This play has possessed me for the last 13 years. There are various levels in which this novel can be deciphered. Also, there are many viewpoints presented through just the character of Kanoba," Pethe explains.

         "Tukaram's story has been rendered in a very different perspective, and my play gives an intense portrait not only of Tukaram the man, but also of the restlessness of a creative and rebellious person. Kanoba seeks to understand this and shows us the picture of this different Tukaram, one we can all relate to," he adds.

         Pethe further says that this play raises questions related to our lives and makes us introspect. It explores the pain and agony of human life. "I always found the fact interesting that Tukaram was a person like us, but he is transformed witnessing the life around him, thus making him look for the meaning of true life and exploring other domains, in turn renouncing his life. Kanoba, his brother, on the other hand continues to be a part of this world and explore its complexities," he says enthusiastically.

         Pethe loved the challenge of dramatising the novel into a play. He has written at least five to six versions of this novel to turn it onto a one man show, with Kishore Kadam playing the role of Kanoba. "I had planned this play with Nana Patekar in mind 13 years back, but he became busy with Ankush and the play stayed where it was... in my mind, till now," Pethe tells us.

Kishor Kadam as Kanoba

         This play was dealt as an experimental play which has been moulded to the present day scenario and is relevant to today's condition and philosophical debates. The language of the playas well as the original novel is very lyrical and intense, and even though there is a single character speaking, the play moves freely between the past and the present with nature playing a pivotal role.

         "We have tried to explore space and time with our set designs, lighting, costumes and music. It was worth exploring the possibility of relating and reinterpreting this rebellious character to our present day situation," he concludes.


Courtesy : The Times Of India 19th February2003.