Wednesday, June 24, 2009

History of Gujarati Theatre by Hasmukh Baradi and Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre, Editor, Dr. Ananda Lal - A Critical Review

Critical review of Gujarati Thiyetarano Itihasa (in Gujarati language) or the History of Gujarati Theatre by Hasmukh Baradi and Oxford Companion to India Theatre, Edited by Ananda Lal, Oxford University Press, India.

By Harish Trivedi
© 2008.
All Rights Reserved

(Reproduction or storage or copying in any form in whole or any part of these reviews without written permission of the writer is prohibited).

Gujarati Thiyetarano Itihasa
By Hasamukha Baradi

Published: Navi Dilli, Nesanala Buka Trasta, 1997.
ISBN: 8123719957,

English translation: Vinod Meghani

History of Gujarati Theatre
By Hasmukh Baradi

Published: 2002 (Paperback - April 2004)

Published by National Book Trust, New Delhi,

Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre

Editor: Ananda Lal

Oxford University Press, Printed in India 2004

One of the contributors on Gujarati Theatre in this Oxord Companion … is Mr. Hasmukh Baradi. His contributions bear his initials HB.

Out of sheer curiosity I read through Mr. Baradi’s work on the history of Gujarati theatre and found there to my surprise similar mistakes that I have enumerated in my observations about his articles in the Natak Budreti (Special Issue, that I now call Part I)

I am much troubled by the errors of fact, incomplete information and blatant omissions in the English and Gujarati versions of Mr. Baradi’s History of Gujarati Theatre.

Mr. Hasmukh Baradi’s contributions to the most reputable, no - venerable work such as the Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre too is replete with incomplete information and omissions.

First about the History of Gujarati Theatre:

Mr. Baradi’s distaste or aversion for providing sources or citations for information he presents as history is evident in his History of Gujarati Theatre. (The original Gujarati version of the same appeared in 1997).

Mr. Baradi’s History of Gujarati Theatre does not include any specific citations about the sources for the information gathered by him except a general statement, ‘…I express my sincere thanks to…my predecessors of being helpful in providing matter for this compilation… ‘

Well, this history is indeed a compilation and like the Natak Budreti issue (March 2007), this History of Gujarati Theatre is full of errors and questionable English translation.

Although Mr. Baradi has provided a general list of sources and reference books at the end of his version of history. But no specific source is given for his assertions.

My concern about the lack of sourcing or citation is related to the issue of scholarship, particularly for the benefit of present and future students of the history of Gujarati drama and scholars who may want to conduct further research on the subject.

According to various guide lines on the subject of research and writing and writing styles, citations and sourcing are essential in order to 1) provide useful information and to avoid the claims of plagiarism, 2) to show that a particular portion or whole writing is not original research, 3) to ensure that the content of articles is credible and can be checked by any reader or editor, 4) to help the readers find additional reliable information on the topic, and 5) to improve the overall credibility and authoritative character of the work – a magazine article or a book of history or for that matter a book on any subject. And finally citations and sourcing is necessary to reduce the likelihood of editorial disputes or to resolve any that arise.

As the sourcing or citation for information presented in the History of Gujarati Theatre is completely absent there is no way for a reader to verify any statement in this history for its accuracy. In other words there is no way to know what is fact, opinion or mere conjecture presented as fact by our historian Mr. Hasmukh Baradi.
In-text citations that refer readers to a list of works cited. (For example the list of reference books at the end of the above named history book). There are no in-text citations in Mr. Baradi’s History of Gujarati Theatre.

Mr. Baradi’s listing of reference books at the end of the history of Gujarati theatre is meaningless.

(Please refer to a detailed note about citations, sourcing and plagiarism at the end of this review on page 55)*

Here are a few and randomly selected examples of errors, misstatements, erroneous headings or questionable English translation:

Note: All page numbers below refer to History of Gujarati Theatre by Hasmukh Baradi, English Translation by Vinod Meghani.

In this history on – page 20 - Mr. Baradi has described Mr. Jaggannath Shankar Sheth as a Gujarati entrepreneur.

He (Mr. Baradi) has made a similar conjecture about Anil Mehta - page 214 - as he has done in that Special Issue of Natak Budreti (March 2007).

This is Mr. Baradi’s version of History of Gujarati Theatre! Some book of history of Gujarati theatre indeed!

Greenroom Techniques (on page 176). Mr. Baradi describes production techniques as Greenroom Techniques.

Any one with a rudimentary knowledge of theatre terms would know that, a greenroom is a place where an actor or actress rests, changes costumes or waits for his/her next entry. There are no production techniques inside the greenrooms across India or around the world.

Creation of an illusion of an aerodrome or showing of sailing ships (the translator has used the term enactment) and other such stage effects cannot be and should not be called greenroom techniques.

B) On page 167 this gem appears:

In 1963 Pravin Joshi ‘produced the first play, Mogra-na Sap. For acting as well as direction, in Mogra-na Sap inclusive, he claimed four awards. Also in 1963, he begged six awards in the (Mumbai) State Drama Competition for a play Shyam Gulal.

Pravin Joshi’s first directorial venture after joining INT was Kumar Asambhavam, a Gujarati version of Ravindranath Tagore’s Chirkumar Sabha.

A young actress named Varsha Acharya had a leading role in that play. For novices, Varsha Acharya is none other than Varsha Adalja a respected novelist and a winner of Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak and many other awards and honors.

Secondly, Pravin Joshi did not beg for six awards. I am sure the translator meant bagged.

C) On the same page (167) we come across another nugget –
‘He (meaning Pravin Joshi) rendered for Gujarati theatre the adaptation of Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw’. This is only partially true, INT’s Santu Rangilee was based more on My Fair Lady – a musical version of Shaw’s Pygmalion. The credit for the Gujarati version/adaptation goes to Madhu Rye, one of the mold-breaking writers in Gujarati theatre during the last five decades and who has been recipient of many accolades, awards and honors for his contribution to the Gujarati theatre and literature...(shockingly this does not find room in Mr. Baradi's so-called History of Gujarati Theatre)

D) On page 168 we come across this paragraph:

Under the stewardship of Damu Jhaveri, who provided actor-director Pravin Joshi with all that absolute freedom and encouraged his experimental plays like Bharelo Agni (Ramanlal Desai), Sona Vatakadi (Chandravadan Mehta) and Jesal Toral (Jitubhai Mehta)…

Nothing can be farther from truth. Mansukh Joshi directed Jesal Toral and it starred Urmila Bhatt and Pratap Oza among many others. Bharelo Agni was adapted for stage by Madhukar Randeria and was directed by Ramesh Jamindar and Madhukar Randeria.

Pravin Joshi was in no way near when Sona Vatakadi was staged by the INT at Ranga Bhavan and Pravin Joshi did not direct it as Mr. Baradi has asserted in his History of Gujarati Theatre.

The lighting for all these productions was designed by Ramesh Jamindar and was marvelously executed by Gautam Joshi while Mansukh Joshi and Vijay Kapadia designed the sets. In Jesal Toral Mansukh Joshi most effectively and imaginatively used two revolving stages. And one more thing: Naran Mistry DID NOT design sets for Bharelo Agni as claimed by Mr. Hasmukh Baradi.

The story about how Mr. Damu Jhaveri recruited Pravin Joshi for INT as narrated by our historian Mr. Hasmukh Baradi is wrong too.

Here is what happened:

Krishnakant Shah, during the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan sponsored inter-collegiate one-act play competitions proved himself as an actor with great potential, particularly through his performances in the play Bhagna Mandir and Station Master.

Krishnakant was invited by Damu Jhaveri to direct and act in Prabodh Joshi’s full-length play Kadam Milake Chalo under the INT banner. The play was very successful. But after its good run when Mr. Krishnakant Shah decided to move to the United States for studies and pursue his dramatic interests, Damubhai (Mr. Damu Jhaveri) invited Pravin Joshi to take up the role in Kadam Milake Chalo. This was an entry point for Pravin Joshi and a beginning of his long, historic and very rewarding theatre career.

During the years 1954, 1955 and 1956, (the same decade of 1950s of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s inter-collegiate drama competitions) Pravin Joshi acted in three plays starting with Number 209 (in 1954). Prabodh Joshi wrote it and if I am not mistaken Kanti Madia had directed it.

It is worth noting that the decade of 1950s with the start of the Bhavan’s Inter-collegiate one-act play competitions is also the decade when Krishnakant Shah, Pravin Joshi, Kanti Madia, Kishore Bhatt, Jayant Vyas, D. S. Mehta – Dhirubhai, Navin Parekh, Vijay Bhatt, Satyadev Dubey, Varsha Acharya (Adalja), Chitra Bhatt, Bharati Sheth, Panna Modi, Amrit Patel, Upendra Trivedi, Pradyumna Badheka (now a political activist and a lawyer) appeared on stage and later emerged as notable theatre personalities, some theatre careers lasting as long as five decades or more. – And the above list is not all-inclusive.

Back to Pravin Joshi:

In 1955 Pravin performed in Vandrano Panjo – a Gujarati version of W. W. Jacob’s short story and later a play titled Monkey’s Paw and in 1956 Pravin performed in Najuk Sawari, which was written by Tarak Mehta.

The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s very demanding and tough audience stopped the performance of No. 209 within the first ten minutes of its start. Pravin’s performance in Vandrano Panjo was a moderate success. Vandrano Panjo was performed at least two or three other times during the decade of 1950s. But it was the fast paced comedy called Najuk Sawari (with Ashwin Jani) that helped Pravin Joshi to fully exploit his comedic talent. The rest is history as they say.

Some may question the labeling of Vandrano Panjo or Monkey’s Paw as a comedy. Curious or purists should read the published script of either versions of the play. Mr. Baradi has described Pravin Joshi’s performance in Vandrano Panjo as a comedic performance. (Although Mr. Baradi has not provided any source for this piece of information)

Prabodh Joshi has written in detail about the inter-collegiate competitions and Amar Jariwala and Prof. Vishnukumar Vyas have written a series of articles on their respective associations with the theatre group Rangabhoomi. The back issues of Mumbai Samachar and other contemporary papers’ archives would be a valuable source for further research on this subject.

Many of the veterans of that era are leaving us one by one and it is a matter of time when no one with memories of that period of theatre history would be available for historic research and nostalgic conversation. Mr. Nirjanjan Mehta, a journalist, writer and a public relations expert is still around and active in Mumbai. He has recently started a series in a leading Gujarati journal where in he reminisces about that era.

E) Mr. Baradi has named various actors who worked with Pravin Joshi but he has completely ignored the names of stalwarts of his ensemble cast such as D. S. Mehta or Dhirubhai as he was popularly known, the great comic talent Kishore Bhatt and Hansu Mehta. Hari Jariwala (With screen name Sanjeev Kumar he appeared in many movies). Hari Jariwala had a lead role in INT’s Koino Ladakvayo a Gujarati version of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. This Gujarati version was based on a Hindustani version of the same and Pravin Joshi had directed Koino Ladakvayo.

A young actress by the name of Varsha Acharya (now Adalja – a successful novelist, a playwright and winner of various literary awards and honors including the coveted Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak) had also acted in many memorable plays and won numerous acting honors, including at the inter-collegiate full-length drama competition that was sponsored by the INT. She had also acted in the Maharshtra and Gujarat State Drama Competition (not Mumbai State or Bombay State as Mr. Baradi refers to these competitions in his history) for her acting in Allabeli (written by her father Shri Gunvantrai Acharya) and Purnima (a stage adaptation of R. V. Desai’s novel by the same name by Prof. Vishnukumar Vyas). She won acting honors for her acting in Panchme Pagathiye – the original Gujarati version of Frederick Knot’s Dial M for Murder.

It is worth noting that the script of Panchme Pagathiye was with INT as it was the sponsor of the competition. Meghnad Desai, now Lord Desai, had done the skillful Gujarati adaptation of that play. It is easy to guess as to where the inspiration for Mograna Sap came from. Incidentally Dhirubhai or Mr. D. S. Mehta was given credit for the adaptation of Mograna Sap from the Frederick Knot’s play. Varsha Adalja’s last major theatrical role was in Rangabhoomi’s Jehr To Pidha Che Jani Jani with Upendra Trivedi. In later shows, Surendra Shah performed Upendra Trivedi’s role.

The name of Varsha Acharya or Varsha Adalja and her luminescent theatre career does not find any space in Mr. Baradi’s history. For that matter the Dave brothers from Bombay - Bharat Dave, Sailesh Dave and Hari Jariwala (prior to his transition in to films with a screen name Sanjeev Kumar) and contributions of such pioneering writers/translators as Babubhai Bukhanwala and Dhansukhlal Mehta too are absent or have been dismissed with a cursory note or two by our historian Hamukh Baradi.

Just for comparison it should be noted that there are over twenty entries under the name Baradi, Hasmukh in the index to the History of Gujarati Theatre.

Incidentally, when Mr. K. M. Munshi wrote Gujarat and Its Literature he had asked Mr. L. J. S. Taraporevala to write about him (K. M. Munshi). Commenting about this Mr. Taraporevala noted, “ It was an unexpected honor to be asked to write about Munshi in the present work. Obviously it would have been bad taste for a writer- anybody except, perhaps, Bernard Shaw – to write at length about himself…. And when he asked me to write about him, I undertook to do so with great pleasure…’- (Chapter V, page 324, Gujarat And Its Literature, First Edition 1935).

F) On page 169 there is a paragraph devoted to Nila Theatres and its founder Jagdish Shah where Mr. Baradi states that ‘ in Pattani Jod by Prabodh Joshi, Jagdish Shah, ‘…then only eighteen, had played the role of the aged grandfather’. Let’s just say that Jagdish Shah was not eighteen at that time (ask Mr. Niranjan Mehta or Tarak Mehta who were involved in many of the productions of the Nila Theatres and were associates of Mr. Jagdish Shah at his newspaper…The name of Jagdish Shah’s theatre group was Show People before it became Nila Theatres.

Another sentence on the same page 169, ‘With Tarak actress wife Gira then founded Nila Theatres’. What should a reader who is not familiar with Gujarati theatre make of this line? Was Gira, Tarak Mehta’s wife? No she was not… she was married to Jagdish Shah. This kind of carelessness and ignorance should not be accepted in any writing and certainly not in the History of Gujarati Theatre.

Adi Marzban:

Mr. Adi Marzban, the icon of Parsi/Gujarati and English theatre in the post independent India is very tardily described in this book of history.

A well-known and well-publicized joke narrated by Adi Marzban is presented as a true story by Mr. Baradi and the joke has been terribly mangled (page 173).

The fact that the Marzban family was for generations involved with theatre and journalism is also missing from Mr. Baradi’s history.
(The Parsi newspaper Jam-e-Jamshed was taken over by the Marzban family in 1870s. The founder of the family was Fardoonji Marzban according to The Parsis of India: Preservation of Identity in Bombay City By Jesse S. Palsetia)

Many of Mr. Marzban Parsi/Gujarati plays are based on the plays by Moss Hart & George S. Kaufman. This is a very important fact that is igonred by Mr. Baradi.

One of the most memorable plays, a Gujarati adaptation of J. B. Pristly’s An Inspector Calls by C. C. Mehta. It was called Gunghat and was directed by Adi Marzban. The impressive cast included Champshibhai Nagada, Chandrika Shah, and the role of the Inspector was played by Amir Merchant. This could arguably be called a most definitive Gujarati production of the Prestly play. There is no mention of this in Mr. Baradi’s History.

Mr. Baradi states that Mr. Adi Marzban attended the Pasadena Drama School. Mr. Marzban, during his trip to the United States visited Pasadena Playhouse and some Hollywood studios before he left for Hawaii.

The fact that Mr. C. C. Mehta, Mr. Adi Marzban and Mr. Upendra Trivedi were honored with a Padma Shree for their contribution to theatre cannot be found in this History of Gujarati Theatre! Adi Marzban was also honored by the Sangeet Natak Academy with its special honor.

Absent or Missing In Action:

Among other MIA or those missing in action in this History of Gujarati Theatre are such luminaries as Damu Jhaveri, Dhansukhlal Mehta, Tarak Mehta’s major contribution to the Gujarati theatre at the Inter-Collegiate level as well as the mainstream Bombay theatre in the 70s, directors, actors and actresses such as Honey Chhaya – a great director of prize winning plays such as Gujarati adaptation of Sharad Babu’s Parineeta, where Chel Vaida and Paresh Daru got their major break as scenic designers and also a prize for their scenic design for that production – the Gujarati version of Pirandello’s Six Characters In Search Of An Author – (Takhto Bole Chhe in Gujarati. The original literal Gujarati translation was done by Vajubhai Tank that was re-written and edited for production by Harish Trivedi). The play won multiple awards at the Maharashtra State Drama competition.

The following are ignored in the History of Gujarati Theatre -

1) Among the actors and actresses who got acting honors at these competitions were Usha Santheria (for Parneeta), Veena Prabhu and Krishnakant Vasavda (for Takhto Bole Chhe) and Chel-Paresh (for set design for Parneeta) Manisha Patel. Pratap Popat got acting honors for Duniyane Undha Chashma and Kaanchan Ranga. – …

2) Landmark productions like Dayaram written and directed by Prof. Vishnukumar Vyas. Prof. Vyas was honored with a writing award for this play.

3) Rangabhoomi’s other stunning productions such as Allabeli, Mrichhakatik, Shah Jehan, Pallavi Parni Gai, Aapghat, Ame Idario Ghad Jitya Re (based on Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer), Narabanka (based on Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People), Kanchan Bhayo Katheer, Darpan…

4) Among the missing should be included - Rang Manch a very active theatre group from Ghatkopar, Bombay. Ranjit Atha, Gunvantrai Acharya, Vishnukumar Vyas - all were associated with this group too… all of the above and other pertinent information about the Gujarati Theatre activities in post independent India, particularly in Bombay is missing in Mr. Baradi’s History of Gujarati Theatre.

It is safe to say that our historian Mr. Hasmukh Baradi does not seem to know the full length and breath of the contributions of Ramesh Jamindar, Vishnukumar Vyas, Honey Chhaya, Madhukar Jhaveri (theatre critic, the Times of India for over a decade), Dr. D. G. Vyas and Damu Jhaveri.

Ramesh Jamindar or Boss as he was known among the young at that time could be considered a mentor or a teacher for young theatre enthusiasts at that time that included Kanti Madia, Pravin Joshi, Krishnakant Shah, Bhart Dave, Amrit Patel, Jayant Vyas, Kishore Bhatt… and the list could go on… There was a time when every one-act play written by Prabodh Joshi was directed by Ramesh Jamindar.

The Indian National Theatre as we all know it today and fondly remember would not have been what it was without the stewardship of Damubhai Jhaveri. He was associated with Sangeet Natak Academy for a long time and was considered a major voice in the theatre world of that time.

Nritya Natika or Dance Dramas:

Avinash Vyas and Yogendra Desai who pioneered and fully exploited this form of theatre for over two-decades from around 1950s have been ignored by our self-styled historian Mr. Baradi. People used to line up at the Birla Matushri Sabha Griha in Bombay on Sunday mornings to see these fabulous shows. During the heydays of the presentations of dance dramas. Mr. Pratap Oza had provided narration to many of these dance dramas.

Avinash Vyas was a gifted and blessed soul. Sheer volume of his music compositions and writing of lyrics for geet and garba still remains unparalleled. He not only composed music and lyrics for his dance dramas but also wrote melodious music for many a memorable Gujarati and Hindi films.

Yogendra Desai would always be remembered a great choreographer who contributed much to the evolution of dance dramas. In addition he was an excellent dance teacher. A young dancer and a budding movie star of the time - Asha Parekh had also appeared in one of the Nritya Natikas presented by this duo.

Sadly this theatre genre does not find a spot in Mr. Baradi’s history of Gujarati theatre.

While a passing reference to the Manbhatt tradition is made the name of Dharmiklal Pandya, one of the most knowledgeable
exponent of the Maan Bhatt and the Aakhyan tradition too cannot be found in this history.

Radio Plays:

The unsurpassed king of the radio-play, Barkat Virani does not find even a mention in this so-called history of Gujarati theatre. For over a quarter of century, late Barkat Virani (Befam) wrote and acted in the radio plays that were presented by the All India Radio’s Bombay station. He has over a hundred radio-plays to his credit. In addition to radio plays, Befam also wrote Gazals and appeared at various Mushairas during the 50s and 60s of the last century. He would always be remembered for his radio plays as well as for his velvety voice.

Gulabdas Broker, Tarak Mehta, Pratap Sangani and many others also wrote numerous radio plays that were broadcast from the AIR (All India Radio), Bombay. Tarak Mehta was awarded first prize for writing the radio-play Dayaram in an AIR sponsored competition. This was a different play than the one later written by Prof. Vishnukumar Vyas and for that he got writing prize at the State Drama Competition as mentioned above.

One could easily conclude that Mr. Hasmukh Baradi has not bothered to undertake any serious research about the theatre activities in Bombay or has intentionally ignored it.

Gujarati theatre activity in Bombay, during the post independence years - from 1947 through early 1970s - is sorely missing and the history Gujarati theatre in Mumbai for the last three decades of 20th century is very sparse and anecdotal at best.


Mr. Baradi separates the words in the title of the play Mograna Sap in to Mogra na Sap and he spells Gunvantrai and other Rais as Ray and that too with hyphen. In Mr. Baradi’s history the names of Ranchodrai appear as Ranchod Ray, the Parsi actor/director and one of the owners of the New Alfred Theatre company Kekhashru Kabraji appears as K. Khushru Kabraji.

Mr. Vinod Meghani has provided some explanation about the spellings in English translation of the History but he says nothing about the use of Ray. Mr. Meghani further compounds the spelling problem when he states that the spelling style adapted by him is not uniformally followed in the translation.

Our historian Mr. Baradi does not seem to know the last names of Chel Paresh. Probably he thinks Chel Paresh is one person. The names of Chel Vaida and Paresh Daru appear as Chel Paresh in Mr. Baradi’s history (page 214) book, including the index at the end of the book.

Naran Mistry (pages 143,168, 176 and 214) was associated with Rangabhoomi, Bombay and not with INT as our historian Mr. Hasmukh Baradi has repeatedly asserted in his version of history of Gujarati theatre!

Mr. Baradi calls Franz Kafka a German author (page 238). Kafka was from the country previously known as Czechoslovakia. Kafka never left his hometown Prague except once when he visited Vienna.

Our historian describes Frederich Durrenmatt as a German writer (page 34) But Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt was a Swiss author and dramatist.

Under ‘A brief chronology of theatre criticism follows…’ page 235 Mr. Baradi provides a list of varous theatre critics but again no specifics. For example. ‘A number of reviews of the plays of Dahya-bhai (his spelling) Dholshaji are on the record.’ But no information as to what ‘record’, in what publication the reviews appeared and or who wrote those reviews.

In the list of various theatre critics or reviewers, writers/critics from Bombay is missing. Shantikumar Dani (Janmabhoomi and Mumbai Samachar), Shakunt Raval (Janashakti), Burjor Pawri and K. K. Lala (Mumbai Samachar) and Madhukar Jhaveri (the Times of India) are totally ignored. Mr. Madhukar Jhaveir established very high standards for theatre criticism, starting in early 1960s till his retirement in early 1970s. Johnny-come-lately or wanna be theatre critics could learn a thing or two from his reviews.

An Index to the History of Gujarati Theatre that starts on page 247 is divided in to two categories. On page 247 one can find index for – what is described as Concepts & Processes.

Here are some samples of entries under this category - Balcony 48, misunderstanding about 14, British rule 109, …

I must confess that I do not know if the term British rule or the word Balcony is a concept or a process …

The other category in Index is Nouns, under this category the names of two scenic designers Chel and Paresh appears as a single entry – Chel Paresh – as has been noted above.

Thankfully the historian Mr. Baradi has stopped after providing an index for nouns, concepts and processes. One can only imagine an index for pro-nouns, verbs, adjectives etc.

Some other intriguing facts from the History of Gujarati Theatre:

a) The names of Alfred Company (page 67), Alfred Natak Company (page 88), and Alfred Natak Mandali (pages 21, 58 and 63) without any explanation about these groups being one and the same or entirely different entities.

b) Mr. Baradi equates the length of time spent for rehearsing a particular play with the quality of production of that play (page 177).

Mr. Baradi does not seem to know that the time devoted or allotted for rehearsals varies from a theatre group to a theatre group. Under such circumstances, sweeping generalization that Mr. Baradi provides is of dubious value to the reader. Is this what history of Gujarati theatre is all about?

c) Young Amrit did not go on his own to Lucknow as Mr. Baradi states on page 58.

Young Amrit Keshav Nayak was sent to Lucknow by Kabaraji and Sorabji Ogra to study Abhinaya, Kathak and Urdu language under various experts and Munshees.

Mr. Baradi also states that young Amrit, a young boy of eleven was offered a salary of rupees forty per month. This too is untrue. But since Mr. Baradi does not provide any sources for his information, it is difficult to verify the accuracy of his statement.

d) Describing Mr. Kanti Madia’s productions, Mr. Baradi writes about Sytlization – a whole page is devoted to this aspect of acting. It seems to me that Mr. Baradi has misused or mis-applied or misunderstood the term Stylization.

What Mr. Baradi describes as stylization in Kanti Madia’s productions should more appropriately be called Realistic style

"Realism" when used in context of acting, should be understood as a particular style that seeks to convince viewers that they are watching events unfold in the real world.

Realism as a genre derives much of its power from the illusion that occurs on stage as if the action is occurring here and now - say an illusion of a sailing ship in an ocean, or thunderstorm and rain or an airport or the landing of a helicopter on stage as was seen in the production of Miss Saigon.

Between the two poles of realism and stylization are genres such as the period or historic costume dramas. This is because these plays provide a realistic illusion of a particular period that is by definition different from contemporary reality, and therefore it becomes a form of stylization.

Use of the term stylization (By Mr. Baradi) without context or proper understanding, at best is likely to confuse the reader or at worst misinform the reader.

After reading his Special Issue on the history of the Gujarati Theatre (Natak Budreti, March 27, 2007), his History of Gujarati Theatre and his numerous contributions to the Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre, it is fair to conclude that Mr. Baradi seems to have no knowledge or very little knowledge of theatre activities in Bombay during the post-independence period. What little information that appears in his works mentioned above, seems to have been derived from anecdotal sources. Mr. Baradi’s parochial vision or bias may also have affected his objectivity.

The National Book Trust has made the English translation History of Gujarati Theatre to many libraries in the Unites States as well as across the world. Now all the readers across the globe of this questionable history of Gujarati theatre would unknowingly learn only half-truths and omissions from Mr. Baradi! What a shame and what an embarrassment! It is clear that the Emperor has no clothes!

Mr. Baradi owes an apology to the National Book Trust and to his numerous readers in India and across the world.

* Here are some random notes about citations and plagiarism compiled from the web pages. These are not in any particular order.

Whenever quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing, or otherwise referring to the work of another, it is only proper to cite its source, either by way of parenthetical citation or by means of a footnote.
Otherwise the writing could end up being characterized as plagiarized writing.

An in-text citation names the author of the source, often in a signal phrase, and gives the page number in parentheses. At the end of the work, a list of books and works cited provides publication information about the source; the list is alphabetized by authors’ last names (or by titles for works without authors) and appears in the same sequence as the reference provided in a particular chapter or on a particular page of the main text. There are no in-text citations in Mr. Baradi’s History of Gujarati Theatre.


Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines Plagiarism means using another's words and ideas and passing them on as your own. Words, ideas, or knowledge are considered the Intellectual Property of the original author. U.S. Copyright Law and laws of many nations protects the author.

When others, including students, or (self-styled historians) use an author's work and present it as their own without giving proper credit, they are dishonest, and this leads to plagiarism.

Plagiarism means representing the words or ideas of another as one's own in any writing…

Most educational institutions in the United States have codes of conduct that are in place to deal with academic honesty. Plagiarism is usually included in these policies.

Following are the various policies currently in effect at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University (as it appears on the web):
(From the Undergraduate Bulletin - 2002-2004, p. 13, "Academic Dishonesty")

"Academic dishonesty is unacceptable, and condemned in the strongest possible terms. It undermines the bonds of trust and honesty between members of the community and defrauds those who may eventually depend upon our knowledge and integrity. Such dishonesty consists of any of the following:

"Cheating - using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, ...

"Fabrication - unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation...

(Pravin Joshi’s first directorial venture was Mograna Saap or Jagganath Shankarsheth was a Gujarati businessman fall under fabrication category)

From the College of Management, Long Island University:

"Not only is plagiarism a practice that is unacceptable, but also it is condemned in the strongest terms possible on the basis of moral, educational and legal grounds...(Undergraduate Bulletin 2004-2006, p.147)

The proper use citation and sourcing can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material by other writers. Some writers and publishers do prohibit extensive quoting or paraphrasing of copyrighted work without written permission either from the author or the agent of the author or the publisher.

How can one avoid charge of plagiarizing?

Acknowledge sources by giving credit. If you don't, intentionally or not, it is plagiarism.

The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre

The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre,
Edited by Ananda Lal,
Published by Oxford University Press, New Delhi 2004.
(Nearly 600 pages including the introduction and Credits for Illustrations)

Contributors to the section on Gujarati Theatre among many others is Hasmukh Baradi. His contributions appear with initials HB at the end of each entry in this prestigious volume. All the other contributors’ names appear with their initials. Mr. Baradi, as he has done in his other writings on Gujarati theatre shows his lack of knowledge about Gujarati theatre activities in Mumbai. And because of such ommissions, as far as Gujarati theatre is concerned the Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre remains incomplete and poorer in its content.

Other contributors to the section on Gujarati theatre are Mr. Dinkar J. Bhojak, Govardhan Panchal. Mr Panchal’s contribution seems to be posthmusoully submitted by some one else.

It would have been better and more balanced coverage of Gujarati language theatre if knowledgeable theatre experts such as Utpal Bhayani (theatre critic), Niranjan Mehta (Theatre Historian), Honey Chhaya (Writer, Director, Actor, Acting Coach) from Mumbai were invited to write about theatre activities in Mumbai.

The names of many a great writers and actors of the Gujarati Theatre do not appear in this mamoth work. Writers such as Prof. Vishnukumar Vyas (who has won many awards and accolades including honors and awards from the Gujarat and Maharashtra state) does not have an entry under his name.

Among those missing include Mr. Damu Jhaveri, founder and general secreatry of the Indian National Theatre for over half-a-century, a producer and an impressario of note…

Dhansukhlal Mehta whoes play Rangilo Rajja was the very first play of the modern Gujarati theatre to have more than one-hundred performances to its credit.

Mr. Dhansukhlal Mehta wrote such memorable plays as Mamajino Morcho, , Sarijatu Surat, Garibni Jhupadi, Dhumraser (with Gulabdas Broker, Bicharo, Bhulno Bhog, Arvachina with Avinash Vyas, Manuni Mashi, Snehna Jher, Vavazodu (with Bachubhai Shukla, Pankhino Malo (with Dhiruben Patel).

Also missing are plays like Anantne Aare by Madhukar Randeria (based on Ibsen’s Master Builder) or Babubhai Bhukhanwala’s memorable plays like Jama Udhar, Gunegar, Rajnu Gaj, Varasdaar and Vijetani Haar…

Two of the leading actors, Jayanti Patel and Prof. Madhukar Randeria
who also wrote numerous one-act and full-length plays are absent in
this Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre.

Among other theatre personalities that do not find a spot in this important book mention must be made of Babubhai Bhukhanwala, Bharat and Shailesh Dave, Arvind Joshi, Upendra and Arvind Trivedi.
Upendra Trivedi is responsible for reviving the dormant Gujarati movie industry during the 70s, he also presented some ground breading adaptations from critically acclaimed Gujarati novels such as Jher to Pidha Che Jani Jani and Vevishal. Upendra also acted in some of the most memorable plays produced by Rangabhoomi, Bombay that included Shah Jehan and Kanchan Bhayo Katheer. Upendra Trivedi is also recipient of the Padma Shree honor.

Bharat Dave wrote numerous one-act plays for the inter-collegiate drama competitons, wrote full-length plays and also acted and directed plays. He collaborated with Kanti Madia and formed a short-lived theatre group called Bohemians. Bhart Dave passed away at a very young age. Kanti Madia later formed his own theatre group Natya Sampada where he produced, directed and acted in series of very successful plays.

Shailesh Dave presented some of the most challenging and successful plays from 1970s onwards till his death at a young age. Among his notable plays were Karma Kshetra, Sahebjee based on Kiss Me Good-bye, Khel, Kachna Sambandh, Aol Khan and many other…

Arvind Joshi’s Aeni Sughandhno Dariyo (based on Bernard Slade’s Tribute), Vrashcheek (based on Simon Grey’s Stage Struck). During the two decades, starting from early 70s, Arvind Joshi won numerous awards for his productions and his acting. In addition to Pravin Joshi, the two remaining Joshi brothers, Arvind and
Original Plays in Gujarati:

Prabodh Joshi has enumerated over seven-hundred plays that were staged in Bombay from 1930 thru 1979. Among the plays were such original works as Gharno Divo, Snehna Jher, Varasdar, Kadam Milake Chalo, Pattani Jod, Anahat Naad, Aapghaat, Sanskar Murtee, Putra Samovadi, Suvarna Rekha, Parneeta, Chheeye Tej Theek, Veni Sanhaar, Duniyane Undha Chashma, Ramni Sumati, Rajane Gaami Te Raani, Swayam Siddha, Mangal Murti, Meenal Devi, Sheni Vijananda, Jaya Jayant, Ramde Peer, Lopa Mudra, Geet Govind, Kunvarbainu Mameroo, Peelu Gulab ane Hun, Sunanda, Devdas and the list could go on and on… (from Gujarati Rangbhoomi, 1853 –1978, Sava Shatabdi Smarak Granth, Pareeshisht - Appendix 3, pages 191-202). Most of these plays were produced and presented only in Bombay.

Nearly three-hundred and fifty Gujarati plays are listed in the Bibliography of Stageable Plays in Indian Languages – Edited by C. C. Mehta (1963, pages 3 to 30)

Mr. Baradi’s sweeping generalizations not withstanding, not all the plays listed in above two lists - over one thousand plays -are based on translations from English or any other languages

Other than Jayshankar ‘Sundari’, Mr. Baradi does not mention any of the male actors who successfully played female roles.

Among those were Chand Meeya (Pingala), Suraj Ram –Special Sundari, Chhana Lal – Surya Kumari, Nanjee Shivlal – Hothal, Master Bhogilal – Malti, Master Ghordhan - Bhavana B. A. and so on. (Names of the male actors are followed by the name of the female characters they played). And for the rest of their lives, these actors became associated with the names of the female characters they played and got attached to their names.

Parsi actors such as Shyavaksh Rustamjee Master who was called Parsi Bal Gandharva and who played in Indrasabha the role of a fairy – Paree, sang in his beautiful baritone voice many songs in classical melodies.

Female stars of yester-years or Jooni Rangbhoomi included such effervecent personalities as Ranee Premlata, Kamaalbai, Shyama, Moheeni, Saraswati, Chandreeka, Ram Pyari, Dullari, Munniba – who played memorable roles in Rati Madam and Khavindane Khatar and Mumbaini Badi; other actresses of the time include Roop Kamal, Sharda, Miss Gohar and Gauhar Jaan…to name just a few.

Notable actresses of Parsi/Gujarati/Urdu stage such as Miss Amelia Joan Bristo, a British actress who had campainged for female roles to be played by female actresses and British actresses such as Mary Fenton, Miss Grace Darling – who not only played female roles in Parsi/Gujarati plays but also sang in the play Rati Madan… do not even get a mention in this book.

Notable writers or Munshis of the Parsi/Urdu stage such as
Munshi Aahesan, Moonsi Agahashr Kashmiri, Munshi Latif Shad, Munishi Murad Ali, Munshi Anwaruddin (Mukhalis), Narayan Prasad ‘Betab’. These pioneers contributed a great deal in introducing and popularizing Shakespearean plays and actors/writers/directors like Sorabjee Ogra, Kekashru Kabrajee, Amrit Keshav Nayak do not get the recognition they deserve in the Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre or in Mr. Baradi’s History of Gujarati Theatre.

Bapulal Nayk about whom Mr Baradi raves about – and deservedly so - was brought to Mumbai by Amrit Keshav Nayak and so were many others from the Nayak and Bhojak community of north Gujarat who followed in the foot steps of the famous son of the soil - Amrit Keshav Nayak. One can add names of such notable actor/directors as Vallabh Keshav Nayak or Vallo (Amrit’s younger brother ) who later established his own company – the Shakespear Natak Mandali, directed plays and made a name for himself as a great comedy actor by playing the role of Gulfaam in Fankado Fitoori

Kawasjee Palanjee Khatau who played the role of Jehangir – Hemlate in the Urdu version Khune-Nahak, Jehangir Khambata who played a memorable role in Dharatikump.

Seems like Mr. Baradi does not consider Parsi actors and actresses contributions to the theatre just because they were Parsis, even though they spoke and acted in Parsi Gujarati, English and Urdu plays. According to Parsi Natak Takhta Ni Tawarikh one of the early Gujarati play Karan Ghelo was produced and staged by a Parsi theatre enthusiast Koonvarji Nazar. It was also Konwarjee Nazar who commissioned the play Karan Ghelo. Faramjee Appu played the role of Karan Ghelo. While the role of Roopsundari was played by Kawasjee Manekjee Contractor. Koonwarjee Nazar also wrote Kadak Kanya in Parsi Gujarai. He was also one of the founders of the Natak Uttejak Mandali.

Similarly one of the earliest Gujarati play Gulab by Nagindas Marfatia and plays by poet Narmad were commissioned by Kekhashru Kabrajee.

Bahmanjee Navrojee Kabrajee – a great Parsi writer of the time wrote such successful plays as Joogar, Bahera Bahel Kaka, Bholi Gool, Bhoolo Padelo Bhoolbhai, Baapna Shraap… yes, all the plays in Parsi Gujarati. But the Parsi dialect of Gujarati language is not recognzied by Mr. Hasmukh Baradi. The play Rustom Sohrab was also writeen in Parsi Gujarati. (All the references to Parsi actor, actresses and plays can be found in Parsee Natak Takhto written by Firozgar).

About the influence of the west or colonialism that Mr. Baradi laments about –

The famous Parsi play Bholi Gool was based on Eastlyne by Henri Hood. Ninda Khanu based on Sheridan’s School for Scandal,
Bholi Jaan was based on Collin Dawn, Jugari Bholanath Yane Veenash Kale Viparitta Buddhi was based on the Red Hut of the Old Mountain, Kekhashru Kabarajee’s Soodi Vachhe Sopari was based on Wives as they are, Maids as they are… Over ninty per cent of plays of the Parsi Gujarati theatre were either direct translations or adaptations of Shakespearean plays or based on Persian mythology and history. The Oza brothers and others of that era also mined the rich stories from Mahabharat and Ramayan. Even Dalpatram’s Laxmi was based on a Greek play.

So Mr. Baradi’s concerns about contemporary playwrights borrowing from the west seem to be ignoring history when he implies that only the playwrights in Mumbai are borrowing from the West. He even overlooks the fact that he - Mr. Baradi himself has borrowed from the West and the then Soviet Union, now Russia, Germany and France – particularly the plays of Bercht, Chekhov, Jean Genet etc. So Mr. Baradi’s gratutious comments about borrowing from the West seems hypocritical.

What is more troublesome is a practice of free-wheeling translations and adaptations without any acknowledgment about the source from which such plays have been written in Gujarati. Writers and critics – including Mr. Hasmukh Baradi do not even raise an eye-brow or have questioned such contemporary practices.

What happened after the copy of these reviews were sent to Mr. Hasmukh Baradi and the National Book Trust – the publisher of the History of Gujarati Theatre?

Mr. Baradi sent an e-mail to Harish Trivedi that said - Thanks, Really.

The National Book Trust’s Chief Editor Dr. Baldve Singh ‘Badhan’CHIEF EDITOR and Director Ms. Nuzhat Hassan, IPS have received the copies of the review of History of Gujarati Theatre. Dr. Baldev Singh has acknowledged the receipt of the review by email and also by regular mail.

The review was mailed by email and also by regular mail on December 15, 2008. Since then I have talked with Dr. Baldev Singh many times. Each time he has said that ‘we are investigating’ and they will let me know when the investigation is over.

After over six months the Nationla Book Trust is still investigating while Mr. Hasmukh Baradi has failed to acknowledge the errors and omissions in his History of Gujarati Theatre either on his Blog or his web page (now infected with viruses) or in his magazine NATAK Budreti.

So Mr. Baradi’s readers in the print media are still unaware of the errors in his writings.

Dr. Ananda Lal, the Editor of the Oxford Companion to Indian Theare has informed me - by email and personal conversations - that due to limitations on space a lot of information could not be included but had he received my note sooner he might have tried to correct or rectify the missing elements in the section on Gujarati Theatre.

Mr. Hasmukh Baradi has now described Nana Shankar Sheth as Shankar Sheth and has decided not to call him a Gujarati Businessman as his has done many times in his previous articles in various books and magazines.

Has mentioned the names of Dhansukhlal Mehta and Madhukar Randeria, Vanlata Mehta and others in his blog (possibly inspired by my review). Mr. Baradi seems to be still reluctant to admit his errors.

His blog is nothing but a revision of his chapter from the History of Gujarati Theatre and his other writings. He seems to regurgitate or seems to be reproducing ideas or facts without understanding them.
In other words Mr. Baradi seems to be vomiting partly digested ideas and facts.

It is also clear from reading his writings that he hardly verifies what he writes as fact and because of his aversion to in-text citation or indicating the source of his ‘facts’, it is difficult to judge the source of his various statements in his History of Gujarati Theatre.


About Mr. Hasmukh Baradi’s blog
Hasmukh Baradi: Torrent of Images


  1. This was an interesting read - Kudos to you - Passion for Gujrati theatre is in my genes. Thank you for making the effort to preserve history-Sushma Prabhu Gaikwad

  2. it is my passion too. i admire the tenacity of mr trivedi.

  3. There was a tenant in my house before 25 years. I was in 6th Standard then.He had a book very old and thick with yellowish pages. It was mahabharat poet and written by manbhatt. An interesting one and i read it entire one. Today I google it and found that manbhatta was some tradition and unable to locate that book now.. I want to transfer the same knowledge to my children which is base for all the success in career we have. Can someone help me find that? Being in this world of literature there are high chances that you know existence of such book and availability of that..

    1. In th era of yogendra desai nd Awinash Vyas as lyresest who was the singer? Or were they played only instrumental music in back ground .

  4. The details on your site are amazing on Gujarati Drama. The Name mentioned
    in the Post-Independence era list of dramatists (Amrit Patel) i believe is
    my Grandfather. He was a dramatist and a novelist in Mumbai (so was my
    great grand pa before independence) and now is nearly 90 yrs old. He often
    showed me old b/w pics of those glory days. I would love to get more info
    on those days and his connects if you still have sources. Would make him
    very happy towards the end of his long and blissful life....

  5. History of Gujarati Theater penned by Mr. Bradi may not have all the facts and figures. But this a sincere attempt compile some part of the history and for that I congratulate and thank him. As such we need bibliography of Gujarati Stage, Drama, Writers, Actors and Actresses, Choreographers , Musicians, Stage Craft experts etc. -Nitin Vyas

  6. great article!!!!!This is very importent information for us.I like all content and information.I have read it.You know more about this please visit again.

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