Collected Plays of Satish Alekar: The Dread Departure, Deluge, The Terrorist, Dynasts, Begum Barve, Mickey and the Memsahib

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Oxford University Press, 2009 - Literary Collections - 422 pages
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Satish Alekar, Mahesh Elkunchwar, and Vijay Tendulkar constitute the trinity who wrote and produced some of the most influential and progressive plays of modern Indian theatre, and in doing so, shaped modern Marathi theatre. This volume of Satish Alekar's plays includes some of his finest works in translation: Mahaniravan, Mahapoor, Atirekee, Pidhijat, Begum Barve, and Mickey ani Memsahib. Alekar uses colloquialisms, traditional Maharashtrian performance practices, black humour, and devices from the theatre of the absurd to create an oblique sense of reality in his plays. The first part of the book includes Mahanirvan (1974), which broaches a subject considered taboo in Indian theatre - death - and defuses the sense of horror surrounding it to show it as an everyday occurrence. The second play, Mahapoor (1975), presents a picture of the middle-class youth of India, torn between the philosophy taught to them and the grim reality of their existence. Atirekee (1990) takes a hardlook at terrorism and presents it as a phenomenon that emerges from the circumstances of modern society. Pidhijat (2003), Alekar's most recent play, is a devastating satire on the malleability of morality in both 'tradition' and 'modernity'. The second part includes two plays - Begum Barve and Mickey ani Memsahib. Begum Barve (1979) is a lament for the cultural forms that are lost to modernity. Barve is a throwback to the lost era of Marathi musicals and the play is about the protagonist'sfinal attempt at living his life on his own terms - an attempt that is cruelly crushed, sadly, by his long-time partner. Mickey ani Memsahib (1973) is a surreal play about an Amazonian woman who controls her scientist husband physically and mentally, who in turn seeks his escape through his scientific experiments. The plot, almost novelistic, is a brilliant satire on the nature of scientific modernity. The plays have been translated by Gauri Deshpande, Urmila Bhirdikar, Alok Bhalla with Jayant Dhupkar, Pramod Kale, Shanta Gokhale, and Priya Adarkar. Each part of the volume is prefaced by a critical introduction by noted theatre critic, Samik Bandyopadhyay. This volume also includes an interview of Satish Alekar by Bandyopadhyay. Rare photographs of the productions of these plays constitute a special section in the book. A must for students and scholars of modern Indian theatre and cultural studies, this book will also be of interest to scholars of Indian literature in translation.

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Introduction by Samik Bandyopadhyay

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About the author (2009)

Satish Alekar is Professor and Head of the Centre for Performing Arts at the University of Pune. He is a founder member of the Theatre Academy, Pune.

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