Ghasiram Kotwal is a Marathi play, which has always been surrounded by controversy. Playwright Vijay Tendulkar wrote the play in the year 1972. The play is written in a historical manner and involves tamasha, which makes it interesting and paints the picture of how men holding the high seat for their personal gain can fortify ones ambition and when the same person is of no more interest to the men in power he shatters him like a castle built out of deck of cards. Though the play with a fine quality of usage of dance and songs is a sensational hit, radical groups have held serious debates on the elements of the play.
The play was first performed on 16th December 1972 at the Bharat Natya Mandir by Progressive Drama Association in Pune. Jabbar Patel’s adaption of the play in 1973 is considered to be classic from the point of modern Indian theatre. Many adept actors like Ramesh Tilekar, Mohan Agashe and Shreram Ranade helped make the play radiant. Bhaskar Chandavarkar headed the music forte and Krishndev Mulgund directed the dancers. Many critics and audience applauded the masterwork whereas many others were hurt as the play projected Nana Phadnavis as evil. The Chitpavan Brahmin community too was very upset by the way the play put across their name.
Different viewers have a different perception of the play when they come out of the hall after the play. While some relate it to the rising issue of injustice with immigrants in Maharashtra others relate it to how a politician misuses his power for personal benefits and still other link it with the age-old issue of caste system in India. The play was banned in the state of Maharashtra for quite some time due to violent reactions from various sects and political parties but made a come back in 2010. The play has been staged over 900 times since it was first enacted in 1972.
Today even after 40 years of its first appearance, the play continues to entice the people with its theme, simplicity, music, directness and tamasha. While the world is moving towards digital entertainment there is this little corner in our heart which yells out to us to take a break and enjoy different art forms. Plays and theatre have seen a steep fall in their curve since the onset of digital entertainment. We hope plays like Ghasiram Kotwal keep rolling out and we instead of behaving like a child brat grow up and look beyond negativity and appreciate it with full verve.