Vikram Gokhale Talking about Barrisster Barrisster is most renowned and controversial play written by Jaywant Dalvi , Directed by Vijaya Mehta and Vikram Gokhale in Lead role, This play portrays the conflict between the traditional and the radical segments of Brahmin society in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The play was based on Dalvi's own novel, Andharachya Parambya. Barrisster is primary showed Vikram Gohakle in lead role before 30 year after great success of this play Vikram Gokhale decided to direct the same with Sachin Kedhekar in Lead role. When Vikram Gokhale has been interviewed about recreating Barrisster again this reacted like below.
How many shows of Barrisster did you perform as an actor?
I did 250 shows spread over three years.
Vikram Gokhale: Please illustrate how your Guru's direction enriched you in terms of acting and understanding the finer nuances of theatre.
I must tell you this - Vijaya Mehta had originally rejected me saying that I would not understand the play. She recalled me after a month saying that she was casting me out of sheer desperation - she wasn't able to find another actor! She challenged me then, "Let us see what you make out of it." That's when I learnt to read the subtext of a play and that is how I was trained. Vijaya Mehta taught me so many things. For instance, trying not to cry is the best way to cry and grab the audience's attention. It is not necessary to cry buckets to express sorrow; it can be achieved through subtler means like dialogue or ironic expressions.
Barrisster is a play about an upright legal professional who championed gender equality way back in the 1910s. He rued the tonsuring of young widows and of the rigid social strictures that deprived them of a normal life. He opposed Hindu rituals that oppressed women. How his life ends in a tragedy is what the play is about. The play itself and its various characters have taught me so many lessons about life as well.
Apart from nostalgia, what is the purpose behind the revival of Barrisster?
The play has complex characters. It should be seen by the younger lot of actors, writers, directors as well as theatergoers. Barrisster is a compact course in theatrics. Unfortunately today's generation is unaware of the rich theatre that existed 30 years ago. The play used to be part of the MA syllabus - it has such a great literary value. Dr. Uma Dadegaonkar has even done her doctorate on the play. Her thesis makes an in-depth and an interesting read.
Have you incorporated changes in order to make the play easy to understand?
Vikram Gokhale:Not many changes but some characters which I felt were neglected in the initial run have been fortified now. Vijaya Mehta attended the opening show of my Barrisster and she patted my back. She said after 33 years, I had made me re-live that creative high!
Isn't the play rather dated for today's viewers?
Vikram Gokhale:The story may be based in the 1910s. However the emotions and human feelings remain unchanged till the end of time. What happens to a man who thinks rationally and ahead of his times and what happens to a woman who is socially ostracized and tonsured at the age of 12? These emotions are powerful enough to hit the audience even today. So I took it up as a challenge and encouraged a new generation of actors to present it.
How difficult was it to cast actors in a play that is so demanding and exacting? On top of it there is your tremendous performance as a benchmark!
All actors were cast as per the requirements of the characters. I explained the actors the story, their characters and the inter actions and
connections. Within 60 hours I completed the direction. My team is on a roll now. I have asked them to discover on their own something deeper, wider and taller in the play. Shailesh Datar approached me for the role of the villain Tatya Velankar. Since all other actors whom I wanted to cast in the title role were busy in films and television - I had to settle for Shailesh as the Barrisster. The villain's role is now being played by theatre veteran Jayant Savarkar. Shaku Naresh, Advait Dadarkar and Shashi a student of mine from Australia are also in it.
He is best remembered for his dramas, and a humorous column on literary personalities which he wrote under the pseudonym : ThanthanpaaL. Jaywant Dalvi had a long time friendly relations with noted literary couple Pu La Deshpande and Sunita Deshpande.
Jaywant Dalvi (1925 (or 1924) - 1994) was a prominent contemporary writer in Maharashtra, India. Originally hailing from Sawantwadi in Maharashtra he was born in a Goud Saraswat Brahmin family.
Jaywant Dalvi's controversial play Barrisster, which catapulted Vikram Gokhale into the limelight 33 years ago, is back on stage and this time Gokhale himself is directing it. In an exclusive interview Gokhale discloses that he plans to treat the audience to a special show of Barrisster in which he will essay the title role yet again - but only after it completes 25 shows. He worked as an assistant editor at newspapers Prabhat and Lokmanya, and later with USIS. As part of USIS efforts to make good English literature available in other languages, Dalvi selected texts and able translators, and helped the cause. He took an early retirement to concentrate on writing novels.