Mumbai

Veteran theatre artist Atmaram Bhende passes away

Veteran Marathi theatre artiste and film actor, Atmaram Bhende, considered the doyen of Marathi experimental theatre, passed away at the Ratna Memorial Hospital in Pune, aged 91.

 

Known for imbuing the traditional and often static Marathi theatre scene with a sense of innovation, Mr. Bhende, affectionately called ‘Bapu’ by colleagues and coworkers, was the first to introduce the revolving stage concept in Marathi theatre way back in the early 1960s.

 

Born in May 1923, Mr. Bhende, a qualified engineer from Mumbai’s prestigious Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), graced the Marathi stage for more than six decades, often acting as its unsung ‘Renaissance Man’ in the 1950s when he injected it with a much needed tonic of ‘farce’- a characteristic he excelled at while commanding the stage. He also appeared in English plays and translated two of the great American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder’s plays into Marathi.  

 

While directing and acting in hundreds of Marathi plays, Mr. Bhende had an Indian Summer when he appeared in Rajkumar Hirani’s  Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) as one of the senior citizens who come to live in Vidya Balan’s home.

 

In an endearing cameo that film, Mr. Bhende was billed as ‘Atmaram’ in what turned out to be his most popular appearance. The actor, who was seen in several advertisements and noted television shows, was the Joint Secretary of the Marathi Natya Parishad between 1954-60.

 

He was married to Dr. Asha Bhende nee Lily Ezekiel, the sister of the famous Indian-Jewish poet Nissim Ezekiel. While his wife had passed away in 2010, his son, the rocker Nandu Bhende, died of a cardiac arrest in April last year.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 5:32:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/veteran-theatre-artist-atmaram-bhende-passes-away-in-pune/article6869143.ece

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