One name the country’s dramatists, writers, filmmakers and students revere most after William Shakespeare is undoubtedly Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.
Like in any other part of the world, Chekhov’s works enjoy tremendous appeal in India and the problems of human interaction he explores transcend national boundaries.
Chekhov, whose fans will celebrate his 150th birthday anniversary on Friday, is credited with forever changing the way people write stories and act in plays, and with conveying universal lessons about art to an international audience.
According to Professor Sankar Basu, Dean at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, directors love to adapt Chekhov’s plays as they are “not the usual stuff.”
“These are no ordinary plays. Chekhov’s plays give ample scope for directors for innovation. That is why they are often adapted in the country,” Prof. Basu told PTI.
“According to Chekhov, in plays life should be reflected as it is. His plays are less dramatic in content.
There is an undercurrent in his plays. The audience has to be active and has to sense it to get a better understanding of his plays,” says Prof. Basu, who teaches Russian language in the Centre of Russian Studies at JNU.
Theatre directors love to adapt Chekhov’s plays. Says theatre artiste-director Mushtaq Kak, “I like Chekhov’s plays because their themes are quite contemporary. They also have an emotional element attached to them.”
Mr. Kak, who was the artistic director at the Sri Ram Centre here, has directed Chekhov’s plays like “The Seagull” and “The Cherry Orchard” for its repertory company.
He also directed “Chekhov In My Life” which is based on Lydia Avilov’s autobiographical account of the writer.
“In ‘Chekhov In My Life’, I try to explore the romantic angle of Chekhov and Lydia. The play is about Lydia’s 10-year relationship with Chekhov,” says Mr. Kak.
Chekhov was born in Taganrog on January 29, 1860. Son of a grocer (and grandson of a serf), he joined the Moscow Medical School and became a doctor. While practising medicine, he developed a great passion for writing. Later he began writing full-time. He died of pulmonary tuberculosis on July 15, 1904, in Germany.
George Bernard Shaw wrote about him, “In the galaxy of great European playwrights who were Ibsen’s contemporaries, Chekhov shines as a star of the first magnitude, even beside Tolstoy and Turgenev.”
A group of engineering students are making a film based on Chekhov’s short story “The Bet.”
“The shooting of the film is over and we are into the post—production stage,” says Naman Maheshwari, the film’s publicist. The film is being produced by EICOS Productions, formed by a group of students of Delhi University.
In memory of Chekhov, the Russian Centre of Science and Culture here is organising a literary function and mini performance on February 4 at Delhi University.
“The programme will include multimedia presentations on life and works of Chekhov, his plays and exhibition of his photographs and posters,” says Yelena Shtapkina, programme coordinator at the Centre.