Satyadev Dubey: A maverick theatre guru

Mumbai: `Pandit` Satyadev Dubey, who passed away in a Mumbai hospital today after a long illness, was a maverick who went on to become a theatre guru. Born in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, in 1936, Dubey`s first ambition was to become a cricketer, which brought him to Mumbai in his college days.

But after coming to the metropolis, he gave up that ambition, and was attracted to the post-1947 theatre that was emerging in the city. He joined Theatre Unit, the theatre group-cum-school founded by Ebrahim Alkazi. Although, he came from the Hindi heartland, he was equally at ease on Marathi and Gujarati stage. He penned screenplays/dialogue of some acclaimed films in the 1970s, including Shaym Benegal`s Nishant, Ankur, Kalyug and Bhumika, and also acquired a distinct identity as theatre director-teacher.

In the career spanning four decades, he directed or produced plays of the prominent playwrights who shaped the modern Indian theatre: Girish Karnad (Yayati, Hayavadana), Badal Sarkar (Evam Indrajit, Pagla Ghoda), Mohan Rakesh (Aadhe Adhure), Vijay Tendulkar (Gidhade, Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe), Chandrashekhara Kambara (Aur Tota Bola). He is also credited with `discovery` of Dharam Vir Bharti`s play `Andha Yug`, which he recommended to Alkazi.

Thanks to his theatre workshops, he acquired reputation as a maverick teacher. He laid a great emphasis on enunciation, and Amarish Puri was his favourite actor. Dubey was also known for `tinkering` with the plays, in order to shape them as per his interpretations, which became controversial. For example, while producing the French play `Antigone`, he simply cut out a few characters, deeming them to be unnecessary. His political views too were unconventional. When many in the Indian theatre had leftist leanings, Dubey was once associated with right-wing RSS.