Spearheading Modernism
Neelam Man Singh
COLLECTED PLAYS OF MAHESH ELKUNCHWAR VOL II: A COLLECTION OF EIGHT PLAYS by Ananda Lal Oxford University Press, 2012, 290 pp., 695
December 2012, volume 36, No 12

In Marathi theatre Mahesh Elkunchwar spearheaded a modernism through his plays. They challenged the unequal power relationships between the genders. Opening the win-dows to let out the stagnant air of discrimination was the running leitmotif of the plays. They focused on contemporary life and were realistic in presentation sites. The action is invented and not derived from pre-existing narratives and the point of significance was literal and not allegorical or metaphorical. The translation of Mahesh Elkunchwar’s plays from Marathi into English by Oxford University Press is a timely and welcome addi-tion in the world of theatre literature. Vijaya Mehta in the eighties and nineties created one startling production after another revealing the magic of Elkunchwar’s work and bringing them alive for the Marathi stage. In the foreword we delve into the complex and multilayered world created by Elkunchwar.

The foreword helps in creating accessibility in the read-ing of his plays by contextualizing it in the milieu through which his works emerge. The introduction by Ananda Lal maps the trajectory of Elkunchwar’s work—by placing the written text in the context of its staging—mapping an arch that resonates and connects with the history of modern Indian theatre.

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