Amol Palekar

AMOL PALEKAR, a postgraduate in Fine Arts from the Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai, commenced his artistic career as a painter in 1967 which was distinguished by his seven solo exhibitions, two murals for Bombay Port Trust along with his participation in many group shows.

AMOL PALEKAR has been a leading persona of avant garde theatre in India. He has been active in Marathi and Hindi theatre as an actor, director and producer since 1967 when his career took a new turn after meeting legendary Satyadev Dubey. Inheriting Dubey’s traits, commitment, ethics and passion for experimentation, Palekar became one of the pillars of the Chhabildas Theatre Movement which presented offbeat, parallel theatre inside a school hall in central Mumbai. After his noteworthy performances in Chup! Court Chalu Hai (1968), followed by Mohan Rakesh’s Adhe Adhure (1969) and Girish Karnad’s Hayavadan (1972), he soon turned a director with Badal Sircar’s Vallabhpurchi Dantakatha (1969), Pagla Ghoda (1970) and Juloos (1975); C. T. Khanolkar’s Avadhya (1971), Achyut Vaze’s Chal Re Bhoplya Tunuk Tunuk (1974), Mahesh Elkunchwar’s Vaasanaakaand (1974) and Party (1976). His dramatization of Diwakar’s unpublished work other than mono-dramas carved a unique chapter in theatrical expression.

Badal Sircar’s theatre has been one of the major influences that Palekar gratefully acknowledges. With Sircar’s philosophy of ‘Third Theatre’ added to his extensive repertoire, Palekar started seeking new vistas. In 1972, he formed his own theatre group - Aniket. His production of Sadanand Rege’s Gochee (1973) was a landmark event that transported theatre outside of the restricted space of proscenium. His productions such as Gochee, Chal Re Bhoplya Tunuk Tunuk, & Juloos were performed by his troupe outside auditoriums, in gardens, garages, canteens, foyers, terraces, etc. Thus a whole new concept in Marathi theatre was initiated.

As a choice, Palekar directed only Indian plays with a sole exception of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1980). He was instrumental in adopting many plays of Badal Sircar, Adya Rangacharya & Surendra Verma from various Indian regional languages to Marathi.

From 2005 to 2009, Palekar hosted five theatre festivals in Pune which received instantaneous national recognition. Three of those were retrospectives of the work of doyens of modern Indian theatre - Badal Sirkar, Vijay Tendulkar and Ratan Thiyyam. Subsequently two special themes presented the reflections on Kannada-Marathi Sangeet Natak tradition, and on Theatre Beyond Words. His dream to organize 5 more such festivals – retrospective of late Habib Tanvir, Girish Karnard, Mahesh Elkunchwar along with Children’s theatre & Folk theater - remained unfulfilled on account of lack of funding.

He successfully challenged the ban on two of his plays Avadhya and Vaasanaakaand ordered by the State Performances Scrutiny Board – on account of its respective themes of voyeurism and incest. These actions compelled the Maharashtra Government to alter the unreasonable, arbitrary restrictions on content and performance. In 2016, he launched yet another attack on theater censorship by challenging the provisions of prior script scrutiny in the State of Maharashtra. In 2017, he has filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court of India challenging the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. If won, both the cases will set a landmark precedent in the fight for artistic freedom. His crusade against theatre as well as cinema censorship through various legal attacks is yet another stupendous contribution.

Palekar’s awesome contribution to the modern Indian theatre often gets overshadowed because of his enormous popularity as a lovable Star in Hindi films.

AMOL PALEKAR, as an actor, ruled the silver screen for over three decades from 1970. His charming image as a ‘boy next door’ carved an unparallel niche in contrast to the larger than life heroes prevalent at that time. He received many Film Fare and State awards as the Best Actor. His roles in Marathi, Bengali, Malayalam and Kannada films fetched him tremendous critical acclaim as well. While choosing to concentrate on filmmaking, he decided not to act after 1986.

With his directorial debut film Akriet (1980), he embarked upon yet another successful voyage. AMOL PALEKAR, as a director, is specially known for the sensitive portrayal of women, selection of classic stories from Indian literature, and perceptive handling of progressive issues. He has made about fifteen feature films in Hindi, Marathi & English languages which have won numerous State, National and International awards. His directorial debut film in Marathi “Akriet” (1980) was the first Marathi film to win an International Award. “Daayaraa” won a Grand Prix and also featured in the Time Magazine’s “Top 10 films of 1995. His feature film in Hindi “Paheli” was selected as the India’s official entry to the Oscar Award in 2006.

His direction of television serials “Kachchi Dhoop”, “Mrignayani”, “Naquab”, “Paool Khuna” and “Krishna Kali” were admired exceptionally by the audience. His documentary “Bhinna Shadja” on the legend Kishori Aamonkar is the only documentation of Jaipur Gayaki and her Note Extraordinaire.

AMOL PALEKAR has gone back to the world of canvas & paint. Since 2014, he has exhibited his paintings titled ‘Abstracts in Oil’ in Mumbai, Ahmedabad-Vadodra & New Delhi in 2014-15, and in Utah, USA in 2017. He has generously offered numerous paintings for fund raising for noble social causes.

In 2012, he was awarded Vishnudas Bhave Puraskar. 2016, Savitribai Phule Pune University bestowed upon him ‘Life time Achievement Award’, in 2017, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata conferred D.Litt. and recently in 2018, the prestigious Godavari Sanman by Kusumagraj Pratisthan for his contribution to the field of art.