Marathi theatre is one of the best in the country in terms of quality of plays, production, and performance. Where there is quality, people will always demand more and flock theatres to watch their favourite plays. In fact, so timeless are some Marathi plays that they create their own leagues of milestones i.e. crossing a whopping 2000 shows! So, we dove into the Marathi theatre scene and dug up some of the plays which have been performed over 2000 times and received critical acclaim as well.
This play gave Marathi theatre and film industry three actors who would later become superstars – Bharat Jadhav, Ankush Chaudhari and Sanjay Narvekar. The story revolves around three friends who live together. One of them is blind, the other deaf, and the third one is dumb. All three fall for the same girl (played by Sampada Joglekar). The comedy play won hearts right from its opening day, and went on to be performed over 3000 times. The play was later produced by Feroz Khan in its Hindi version, and it went on to be staged in 8 other languages.
Varhad Nighalay Londonla is a play which records the chronicles of a village family as they come to accept a British woman as their daughter in law. The play also got recorded into the Guinness Book of World Records for maximum characters played by an actor in a single theatre performance. The number is 52. Yes. Laxman Deshpande played all the 52 characters in the play by himself. The play went on till his death in 2009, and was performed world over. It conjured up 2000+ performances.
An adaptation of a Shakespeare classic, Natsamrat is a gem by one of the most loved Marathi writers, V V Shirvadkar. Natasamrat is the story of a veteran stage actor who has retired from acting but cannot let go of his past glories. It is an emotionally intense play filled with power-packed performances. Shriram Lagoo in the role of Ganpat Ramchandra Belvalkar is the most memorable and the most popular. Many actors donned the hat of Belvalkar’s character thereon, making it cross the 2000 shows mark. Natsamrat was recently made into a movie by Mahesh Manjrekar, in which Nana Patekar played the lead role.
This is one of Acharya Atre’s masterpiece writings. To Mee Navech is the story of a conman, Lakhoba Lokhande (based on Madhav Kazi, an active criminal during the 1950s), who is trying to prove how the accused is not him. The play was written in 1962 and despite many actors playing the lead, Prabhakar Panshikar’s portrayal of Lakhoba Lokhande is the most loved one. The play is full of sarcastic dialogues and satirical reflections that can be pondered upon even today. It is also one of the few plays where one man plays five completely different roles, and has crossed over 3000 shows over 52 years, since its inception.
Sahi Re Sahi is considered one of the most successful Marathi plays of all time. Bharat Jadhav was well on his way to stardom in the Marathi film circuit when the play first opened in 2002. Written by Kedar Shinde, the play shows the comedy that follows the accidental murder of industrialist Madan (played by Bharat Jadhav). Four different groups get four imposters of Madan to get their hands on the wealth left behind by Madan. The play went on to make a record of having the most number of shows in a calendar year when it was performed 565 times. Sahi Re Sahi has had over 3000 shows. So popular was this play that in 2015, Kedar Shinde returned with its sequel Punha Sahi Re Sahi.
Prashant Damle starrer Gela Madhav Kunikade follows the life of Madhav, a Medical Representative by profession, who is married to two women. Both women are unaware of each other’s existence, until a certain incident threatens to reveal this closely guarded secret. In the pursuit of keeping it a secret, Madhav and his friend Udhhav (played by Vinay Yedekar) get embroiled in a string of comedic situations. Prashant Damle’s impeccable comic timing and the overall brilliant humour of this play has had it run for 1822 shows so far. The play is mentioned here because it is still running; and knowing Prashant Damle and his knack for pulling off 5 shows in a day, it won’t be too long before it enters the 2k league too.