Satyadev Dubey: Cricket's loss was theatre's gain

Satyadev Dubey: Cricket's loss was theatre's gain

Theatre director, screenplay writer and actor Satyadev Dubey, credited with introducing existential and absurd theatre, passed away on Sunday at a private nursing home here, after a prolonged illness.

The 75-year-old veteran had been in a comatose condition since September, following a brain seizure.

Born in Bilaspur, Chattisgarh, in 1936, Dubey’s tryst wi­th theatre resembles the­m­es he toyed with during his 50- year romance with the sta­ge.

In the late 50s, Dubey, then an aspiring cricketer, arrived in Mumbai with dreams of emulating the erstwhile cricketing legends. He ended up joining a theatre troupe run by Ebr­ahim Alkazi, one of the most influential directors of the time.

However, with Alkazi leaving for Delhi to assume charge of the National School of Drama, Dubey lost interest in English theatre. He had disdainfully described English theatre as a “stage with colonial baggage.”

Amid the radical 1960s setting , Dubey, with a passion for introspection, rebelled not only against his upper-caste upbringing, but also against the shallow Mumbai theatre scene, which, at that juncture, was desperately in want of an apostle to revive its fortunes.

Needless to say, the purpose was served. Dubey made his presence felt with Dharamvir Bharati’s radio-play “Andha Yug,” bringing to the fore the pervasive criminal and homicidal tendencies during the times of war. Dubey toy­ed with existentialist and absu­rdist themes. His next director­ial venture was K­a­r­nad’s “Yayati.”

The play received accolades from critics and public alike. By early 70s, Dubey shifted to  Marathi playwrights.

He went ahead to direct a documentary and a feature film in Marathi language while penning down the screenplay for Shyam Benegal’s film “Bhumika.”

However, Dubey’s key contribution to Mumbai theatre was introducing “Theatre of the Absurd,” inspired by exisplaywrights like Sartre, Beckett, Durrenmatt and Ionesco.

Later, in the 90s, Dubey’s theatre workshops became equally popular as he had mastered the art of extracting the best from novices.

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