Saryu Doshi on the birth of experimental theatre in Bombay

 

This series of interviews was conducted while researching for the book, The Scenes We Made: An Oral History of Experimental Theatre in Bombay, ed. Shanta Gokhale (Mumbai: Speaking Tiger Books, 2015).

 

As trustee of the Vinod and Saryu Doshi Foundation, Padma Shree awardee Saryu Doshi oversees the annual Vinod Doshi Theatre Festival, which showcases experimental theatre productions from young and independent theatre artists in the city of Pune, Maharashtra, India. In this interview, we ask her how she got involved with the world of experimental theatre in her younger days.

She says it all started when her husband, Vinod, and her meeting with Satyadev Dubey at a cast party after a successful production, sometime in 1968. After a few more of such meetings, Dubey and her husband became friends. Dubey at that time was looking for a space in which to hold meetings and rehearsals. Vinod had an empty flat in Walchand Terrace that he gave to Dubey and thus began Vinod and Saryu Doshi’s long liaison with theatre.

Saryu soon became well versed with the world of theatre and even conducted a few workshops with theatre artists on costume designing. In this world, Saryu met some of the most famous theatre personalities, names that we cannot fail to recognise today, and she tells us about the days that these giants were still young and unsure, just starting out on this path for the first time. Some of the names she mentions are PL Deshpande, Vijay Tendulkar, Amrish Puri, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Girish Karnad, among many others.