699 and still counting


Kalagangotri will stage its popular play Mukhyamantri this evening, which will be its 700th show

Kalagangotri, a five-decade old Kannada amateur theatre group, will stage its popular play Mukhyamantri on January 4 at 5.30 pm at Ravindra Kalakshetra. Popular actor-turned politician, Chandru plays the role of a chief minister in the play and ever since is known as ‘Mukhyamantri’ Chandru. That is not all, former chief minister JH Patel, is also said to have registered Chandru’s name in Karnataka Gazette as ‘Mukhyamantri’ Chandru. Ironically too, the actor ventured into politics later in life.

The play, Mukhyamantri is directed by BV Rajaram and the team is staging the play to mark their golden jubilee year of Kalagangotri. This evening’s show will be the 700th show of Mukhyamantri. The play follows the protagonist, who is firm on retaining his position as the chief minister, despite attempts by his party president to pull him down.

The play is based on a novel by the same name, written by Chanakya Sen. This Hindi play was later translated to Kannada by theatre and film actor TS Lohitashwa.

When Kalagangotri staged this play in 1980, Lohitashwa was supposed to essay the role of Chief Minister Krishna Dwaipayana. But due to health reasons the role went to Chandru. “The role was offered to me, as Lohitashwa fell very ill. I incorporated my own dialogues and eventually it turned out to be a comedy. This worked for the show and my popularity,” smiles 66-year old Chandru.

The first show of Mukhyamantri was staged on December 4, 1980 at the cycle stand area behind Ravindra Kalakshetra. And it was Chandru’s performance that drew a crowd and made the play a success. In a span of four decades, over 300 artistes have essayed various characters in this play, but, Chandru has remained a constant as the chief minister and has been a part of every show. “I was 28 when I first essayed that character, now I am in my sixties. Over the years my performance has matured, especially, after my entry to politics. I won’t go without rehearsal even now, as I am expected to entertain new audience every time. I will continue to essay the role as long as my health permits,” smiles Chandru. He also adds that politicians from Karnataka, including R Gundu Rao, HD Deve Gowda, Ramakrishna Hegde and the late actor dr Rajkumar have all watched play. “Most of the politicians did not instantly responded to the play, as it was set in north-India. Later, when we would meet, they chided me of ridiculing them,” shares Chandru.

Tickets for the show will be available at the venue.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 6:30:09 AM |

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