‘I’ve lost my most trusted colleague.’

Arun Kakade, the backbone of the theatre group Awishkar, recalls his days with Jaidev Hattangadi, a fellow theatrewallah and dearest colleague at Awishkar.

Jaidev and I knew each other earlier but we came closer when Dubeyji made Shantata Court Chalu Aahe, the movie. I was acting in the movie and he was assisting Dubeyji. He asked Jaidev to go to NSD and he left for Delhi. This was in 1971. He met Rohini while he was at NSD. Jaidev and Rohini both came to us, at Awishkar, in 1974 . He had specialised in direction where as Rohini has specialised in acting. We welcomed both of them. He said he wanted to work on a play called Changuna, written by Aarti Havaldar. It was a Marathi adaptation of the play Yerma by (Spanish poet, Federico García) Lorca. I had also been a part of this play as a producer. Jaidev worked hard on this play and it won the first prize in the state competition. That was the first time that I had seen Rohini acting and it was really nice to see her on stage.

It was while working on the play that we realised that Jaidev was a very good teacher. No sooner than he came from Delhi, he started taking workshops at Awishkar and from the workshops he started working on Changuna. I found in him the best drama teacher, way back in ’74. He was young, energetic and he had new ideas. That’s how both of us became even closer friends.

Then Jaidev and Rohini got married. After his marriage, Jaidev wanted me to translate another play, Badal Sircar’s Abu Hasan. So I translated it for him. It was a musical play. And he did a wonderful job on the play. It was a very nice production, but unfortunately we could not do too many shows of the play because of the artistes, their unavailability. He did so many productions for us thereafter. He did two Hindi plays and four to five Marathi productions. Then he started his own organisation, Kalashray, in collaboration with Awishkar. And we told him go ahead, we supported him with his organisation.

Jaidev became a part and parcel of Awishkar. Most importantly, he was involved in the academic activities of the group. All academic activities were entrusted to him, it was his responsibility. He used to conduct workshops twice a year. Over the years, he must have conducted nearly 50 workshops. He trained so many students, so many youngsters. They’ve gone on to become great artists in different media.

As a teacher, Jaidev was a very disciplined person.

Whatever he has to do in a workshop he’d be prepared. He would know what portion he has to take on a particular day. He had his own handwritten notes on every subject. And before he came here, he had his homework done. He would be absolutely prepared for every session. For 16 days, 4 hours a day, in 64 hours, he used to cover all the aspects in his acting-oriented workshops.

When he interviewed students for his workshop, he used to tell them, ‘Punctuality is a must.’ If you did not come on time for his first workshop, you would be out. And he literally did that. He was completely commited to his work. In the earlier days he used to conduct three workshops without charging anything. I told him, ‘Charge something. At least, to cover conveyance.’ Even later he would charge just the basic amount. He would say, ‘No kaka, no charging exorbitant fees. We’re not a commercial venture. We are here to teach students. We have an objective to impart education. We have to do it, without getting into the commercial aspect of it.’ And we did that. He never, never, never made his workshops commercial. Thereafter I did not find anybody as a teaching faculty as Jaidev was.

Now, we want to remember him on his first death anniversary. We shall be producing a play called Jagdamba. The script was written by Ramdas Bhatkal for Jaidev and for Rohini. Now that Jaidev is not with us, I said to the playwright we’ll do it. Though Jaidev is not here, Rohini is here and we’ll do it. It will premiere on December 5, his first anniversary. It is a one-woman play that Rohini will act in along with Aseeem, his son. Pratima Kulkarni is directing the play and we have started rehearsing for the play also.

Jaidev and his family have been very close to Awishkar and me, personally. In fact, I think we share a thicker bond than blood relations would. The relation our families shared with each other rarely exists in theatre. Although the last two years have been very painful for me and for them as well. Before he was diagnosed with cancer, he used to come here and complain about his acidity problem. He used to chew some tablets for temporary relief. I told him, ‘Don’t take medicines on your own, go and get yourself checked by a medical professional. Chewing tablets for acidity for a couple of days is alright but you seem to have the problem all the time.’

I miss him. I really miss him, as my most trusted and dearest colleague.

Last year was a most painful year for me, right from (Vijay) Tendulkar. At least for Tendulkar we were mentally prepared. But then I lost Chetan (Datar) and within a year Jaidev was gone. I lost my two hands. It is a big tragedy for me.

But the show must go on. We’re picking up things where Jaidev and Chetan had left them. We’re doing shows, we’re conducting workshops. Of course we can’t reach the extent that Jaidev used to go with his workshops. But, yes, there is something being taught through our workshops.

This article was first published in the Thespo 11 Magazine, 2009.

Catch three plays by Awishkar — Sangeet Baya Daar Ughad on April 10 and 11, 6 pm, Ghar Baar on April 10, 9 pm and Maunrang on April 11, 9 pm at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu Church Road, Vile Parle (W). Call: 02226149546

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