Doyen of theatre Gubbi Veeranna comes alive

Experts talk on drama stalwart; harmonium master recreates magic

Theatre lovers in the city on Saturday traversed back to the heydays of professional drama in the state — bringing alive Gubbi Veeranna, doyen of Kannada theatre.

Participating in the talk organised by Spandana theatre troupe as part of the ongoing ‘Sampada Parshe 2012’ a theatre fest, at Sriranga on the premises of Rangayana, director of the theatre repertory B V Rajaram said: “The company that began with 15 artistes in the early 20th century later grew manifold with 250 artistes. Such was the situation that, a train was booked to accommodate men and materials of the company, on tour to other places. Even real animals were a part of the company.”

“When ‘Kurukshetra’ a popular drama was staged, a vast stage up to 120 feet width was erected,” said Rajaram giving a glimpse of the grandeur of the company. “Apart from staging plays, the company was encouraging talents in different facets of art — exploring their ability in acting, singing and also percussion. Rajaram equated the company with an institute.

Recalling the criterion Veeranna followed in handpicking the talents, Rajaram said that the great theatre personality banked on three Ps; physique, personality and ‘peepi’ (ability to speak aloud).

Rajaram said ‘peepi’ was a must as the drama companies of those days were indigenous against the hi-tech sound instruments that came later. Kerosene lamps were the only lights and sparklers in different colours were the tool of special effects.
Devdas Kalasad also spoke on Veeranna.

Earlier, a documentary on Gubbi Veeranna directed by M S Sathyu was screened to the applause of the gathering. What made the talk complete was the rendition of theatre songs by 72-year-old Paramashivappa, a harmonium master of the Gubbi Company.

The septuagenarian singer also reminisced the moments with ‘Appavru’ as Veeranna was addressed by the troupe. Rajya Sabha member B Jayashri — grand daughter of Veeranna — also rendered a song.

Na Damodar Shetty was the interpreter.

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