Social Club soon shifted to another spacious place,
which was in ‘Dhamdhere Bol’
(narrow alley opposite to the building of the present
City Post office in Budhwar Peth. The place was
on the second floor of a Lord Rama Temple, owned
by one Mr Thatte. It was a big room with seven ‘khans’
(sections). The rentals charged were 19
‘anas’ (a coin in the then
currency), charged slightly on a higher side as
the landlord expected the amateur actors to make
a lot of dim during their rehearsals. Monthly subscription
for the members was nine paise. The Club bought
for itself, new floor matting for one and a half
In this Ram temple in Budhwar Peth, the club
put up amateur performances of several plays such
as ‘Zunzarrao’, ‘Phalgunrao’,
‘Durga’, and ‘Kanchangadchi
Mohana’. The audience used to be specially
invited. Eminent personalities like Tatyasaheb
Kelkar, playwright Khadilkar, Shivram Mahadev
Paranjape etc., made it a point to attend such
performances, especially to encourage the young
With the passing time, more and more theater
lovers, educated actors joined the Club. It was
a novel and admirable fact that educated students
could establish a Drama Club; and run it successfully.
It was around 1904
that Dadasaheb Phatak passed
his LLB and became a practising lawyer. It was
an unusual and attractive legend for the contemporary
society that an amateur theater actor;
then looked down upon and jeered at by the term
‘natkya’; could also
become a successful lawyer.
Choubal, Abhyankar, Pimple, Koknur, Dixit, Alkutkar,
Alekar, Vishnupant Patwardhan, Khambete, N.D.Oak,
Yashawantrao Jathar were a few other active members
of the Club, to name a few.
In 1904 only, Appasaheb Gokhale, Dattopant
Kale, R.D.Gokhale and Bhausaheb Datar from the
well-known Datar Contractor’s family, too
joined the club. The two Gokhales’
were specialized in playing ladies’ roles
and Dattopant-alias-Dada Kale turned from ladies’
roles to elegant gents roles. Now, Students’
Social Club was capable of giving performances
as sleek as that of professionals. Dattopant Paranjape,
also a contractor by profession, father of a would-be
director Raja Paranjape and another college student,
Joglekar, fond of music, who later became a lawyer;
also joined the club.
Club, established in 1894, adopted a
shorter name for itself i.e. Social Club. And
quite rightly so, as young founder students had
grown up into capable and established adults.
So the change was apt and obvious.
Under the able leadership of Dadasaheb Phatak,
the members of Social Club Presented play performances,
such as ‘Satvapariksha’, ‘Phalgunrao’,
‘Soubhadra’-a musical, ‘Keechakvadh’,
etc. The Club raised funds by performing plays
and the funds were donated to several social organizations;
a tradition originated then, still continues.
Thanks to the dedicated hard work of Dattopant
Paranjape, the contractor, that the Club gave
up the Ram temple soon; operated in Morobadada
Wada for a while, and then the Club shifted to
the place where it has its establishment at present.
and other dedicated members constructed a 24’
x 18’ hall here, through their
own hard labour. A connoisseur, member Raosaheb
Joshi, donated the land to the Club in 1923,
where Bhausaheb Datar, his son
Bandopant Datar, Dadasaheb Kale from
the Railways contributed to construct a bigger
hall of 50’ x 18’.
The Club was allowed to use a lot of open space
before and behind the hall where New Kreedabhuvan
Club, a sports club ran its activities
under the kind auspices of Raosaheb Joshi. Most
of the sports club members were also the members
of Social Club and the landlord Raosaheb
Joshi had fatherly love for both the
The Club also started theater and movie research
activities with the help of Appa Gokhale and playwright
Madhavrao.N.Joshi. They initiated the herculean
task of gathering vast information and documents
regarding every single person stirving for the
Marathi theater. They started documenting such
persons’ life, work, photographs, scripts
of plays, vintage theater artifacts and what not.
A picture gallery and picture collection was set
up as a result of hard work of Bhausaheb Datar,
his uncle from Panvel Dattopant Marathe and an
artist-Hari Keshav Phadke. Social Club and Natya
Samshodhan Mandal-a research Institution.
the hall was transformed into an openair theater,
thanks to Bhausaheb Patwardhan. The then Collector
of Pune Mr. Mac’Lacklon inaugurated
the theater on 4th May, 1935
and the Club put up its famous play ‘Tratika”
on this occasion.
Twenty-seventh session (meet) of All
India Dramatic Meet (Bharat Natya Sammelan) was
held on 25th and 26th May 1935. Eminent
actor Govindrao Tembe presided
over in the Clubs’ hall. An ardent well-wisher
of the Club, S.N.Chaphekar was
the co-president for the function. In 1935 Bhausaheb
Datar has already published the account of the
event, which was also attended by Dr.N.K.Gharpure
The then Governor of Mumbai Nek Namdar Lord Breborn
visited the Club on 13/10/1935; at which time
the Club was genially guided by Dattopant Potdar,
Tatyasaheb Kelkar, Abasaheb Mujumdar, Prof. Malshe,
Madhavrao Joshi, Abasaheb Akutkar etc.
The Club was official registered in 1935 and
got its Registration Certificate as per the Act
21, 1860; on 8th July, 1935.
The exemplary work of the Club was visited, watched
and appreciated by eminent personalities; such
as kings, emperors, governors, collectors, political
leaders, leading artists and well-known persons
from all strata of the society. Missionary work
of collecting books, paintings, photographs and
research continued with zeal as a result of devoted
efforts of honest, industrious, amateur volunteers.
The Golden Jubilee
(50th anniversary) of the Club was celebrated
with pomp and show on 27/9/1944,
on the Vijayadashmi festival
day under the Presidentship of eminent litterateur
Tatyasaheb Kelkar. The occasion also witnessed
a performance of ‘Totayache Band’.
A formal and official Constitution
of the Club was written down and published and
implemented in a novel way on 15/8/1950.
Besides Social Club, several other amateur dramatic
clubs were also active in Pune. V.G.Joshi and
Baburao Vijapure took initiative to organize a
get-together of all of them on 25th and 26th April
1941, in the Clubs’ auditorium. A similar
meet was organized for amateur actors, by Social
Club in 1951. Senior actor Keshavrao.Date adorned
the Presidential Chair.
A group of students from California
University visited the Club on 26th July 1952.
The Club performed a large number of shows in
charity to render aid to several social organizations;
during 1942 to 2003. A detailed list of such charitable
performances can be seen in the Institution office.
The Club’s open-air theater was transformed
into a temporary pandal-theater in 1963. Ranade
the Contrator, Baburao Vijapure, Bandopant Datar,
Bandopant Sathe played vital roles in the task.
With the co-operation of Bandopant Sathe and the
members of the New Kreeda Bhuvan tennis club;
the adjoining vacant land near the tennis ground
was acquired. Shrikant Bhide, Kaka Date, Appa
Tamhankar, Mehendale and other young zealous volunteers
mooted the idea of running the pandal-theater
on a professional basis. The Club ran the theater
professionally; certainly a difficult task to
be achieved, and earned love and patronage of
theatergoers, in addition to bigger monetary gains.
had also to be changed soon. It was necessary
to pull down the pandal theater and to build a
permanent cement-concrete theater complex in its
place. A three- storeyed construction was needed
to be erected on both the sides of the spot where
the present stage is located. Hence, the Club
purchased the tennis court land from Joshi brothers
and their sons for Rs 49,451/- in 1969.
A serial of speeches was organized in memory
of the great playwright Ram Ganesh Gadkari’s
50th death centenary under the able leadership
of Dr.R.S.Walimbe and V.G.Joshi. The event got
good response from theater lovers.
In 1969, the Club completed its 75 years and
celebrated its Platinum Jubilee. The year proved
very fruitful for the Institution that was visited
by famous personalities, ministers, such as Vasantrao
Naik, S.Wankhede, and Desai etc. When theater-goers
enjoyed famous old, new plays such as ‘Mruchhakatik’,
‘Durvanchi Judi’, ‘Katyar Kaljat
Ghusli’ etc., everyone urgently felt the
need for a permanent theater complex.
We had our own problems in executing our project
of a full-fledged theater complex. Our eminent
well-wishers and theater enthusiasts helped us
out. Pune’s Police Commissioner Marathe,
Bhujangrao Kulkarni from Pune Corporation, who
had taken up the job of re-constructing Pune after
the Panshet floods, Narubhau Limaye and others
were a few important personalities who rendered
The Club decided to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee
in its own theater complex. Narubhau Limaye once
remarked that the Club was rather unaware of the
great goodwill it had amassed through their selfless
service of the Marathi theater. This goodwill,
that was the outcome of dedicated service of people
like Abasaheb Mujumdar, Baburao Vijapure, G.L.Apte
and hundreds of others, was accompanied by active
co-operation of eminent persons like Narubhau
Limaye resulted in the Government’s official
permission to build the theater-complex. The Municipal
Commissioner Bhujangrao who believed in propelling
socially useful projects; instead of blocking
them, putting finger on some government rule,
sanctioned the theater plan. It was also sanctioned
by the newly elected young corporators who gave
consent to it. The neighbouring Institutions,
Maharashtra Education Society, Bharat Itihas Samshodhan
Mandir, Dhondopant Joshi and all other offered
co-operation, in spite of a little inconveience.
27th July 1969 was the day on which the resolve
was formulated. Finance was the main problem.
The secretary of the Governing body, B.K.Parad
offered a ready cash of one lakh and 80 thousand
rupees for the construction of the theater-complex.
Many more offered contributions. Some even doubted
if an investment of about six lakh rupees was
really within the reach of the Club. But, the
Club members had tremendous faith in themselves.
All pieces started falling in proper spaces. On
19th March 1969 receipt books for donation amounts
were readied and the first auspicious receipt
was written in front of Lord Peshwe’s Saras
Baug Lord Ganesh. People started donating amounts
that started piling. The architect for the theater-complex,
V.B.Deshpande, though a friend of Narubhau Limaye,
had not come in contact with the Club before.
Once, while our legal Advisor Raosaheb Phadke
was discussing some contract terms with V.B.Deshpande,
the architect passed an amusing comment, “When
I was a child, I used to watch plays of this Club
peeping through its torn side-curtains secretly.
Then some elder from the Club would allow us kids
to take free seats in the ‘pit’ and
we would enjoy the remaining show. For this, I’m
going to work for the Club on whatever terms and
conditions as well. It’s my Club as well!”.
On 20th July 1969 Krishnarao Phulambrikar, in
the honourable presence of Revenue Minister Balasaheb
Desai, laid the foundation stone of the theater-complex.
Everybody was reminded of Keshavrao Date who had
donated Rs 6000/- for the cause from the amount
he was offered six years ago on the occasion of
his felicitation ceremony. Keshavrao and the likes
had always felt that the drama companies such
as Gandarva, Maharashtra, Samarth, Lalit Kala
etc visited Pune to perform; and there was not
a single, well-built, proper theater for them.
Within a few months the theater-complex started
coming up fast. The foundation was laid on 1st
August; and just after nine months and nine days
i.e. on 9th May, the auditorium was inaugurated.
A few persons were always seen hanging around
the construction that was going on. Baburao Vijapure;
with his characteristic shoulder bag was one amongst
them. Various thoughts regarding the theater and
plays always haunted his mind. How to dispose
off old belongings of the Club, how to get more
donations, which new plays to be put up; and hundreds
of such ideas, all for the betterment of the Institution.
Accepting donations for each seat in the theater
individually and inscribing the donor’s
name on it was a novel idea of Baburao himself.
The idea clicked very well and donations of theater
lovers literally poured in. Natya Sampada volunteered
to donate the front velvet curtain and Prabhakar
Panshikar sent a dozen huge mirrors for the greenroom.
Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar rightly remarked that the
gestures showed people’s love for the Club.
Narubhau Limaye’s diary was as peculiar
as Baburao’s shoulder bag. The diary contained
hundreds of tips and details about the on-going
construction, govt., permissions, liences, electrification,
acoustics, chairs, etc.
Then one day, all of a sudden Narubhau declared
that the theater-complex was to be inaugurated
on 9th May and the Club’s 100th anniversary
to be celebrated on 10th May. The man had already
contacted Honourable Home Minister Mr. Yashwantrao
Chavan and fixed the date with his consent on
the 9th May 1970 Social Club-alias-Bharat Natya
Sanhodhan Mandir had successfully constructed
its very own theater-complex comprising an 850
seating capacity auditorium.
Baburao Vijapure was really a completely devoted
person who had simply become one with the Club
and its activities. He was an able organizer and
motivator because of whom all facets of various
fine art developed with gusto.
The Club started taking part in the Maharashtra
State Drama Competition in different languages
such as Marathi, Hindi, prose as well as musical
plays. A few noteworthy plays were the muscicals
named ‘Swayamwar’, ‘Vaireen
Zali Sakhi’, ‘Bhetata Priya’,
‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusli’, ‘Panditraj
Jagannath’, ‘Soubhadra’, ‘Manapaman’,
‘Samshaya Kallol’, ‘Matsyagandha’,
‘Mirchhakatik’, and ‘Nihshabda
Change is the law of life. In the year the Club
made amendments in its Constitution. Several other
amateur drama companies started holding their
drama/one-act-play competitions in Bharat Natya
Samshodhan Mandir’s theater-complex. The
following well-known and popular drama competitions
are presently held here:
- Purushottam Karandak one-act-play competition.
- Firodiya Karandak (Trophy).
- Marashtra Govt’s State drama competitions.
- Kamgar Kalyan Kendra’s competitions.
- Industrial Lalit kala one-act-play competions.
- Hindi State level play competitions.
- Sanskrit State level play competitions.
- Children’s play competitions.
- Aradhana Trophy one-act-play competitions.
This list proves that all amateur theater artists
have a special affinity for the theater-complex
of Bharat Natya Samshodhan Mandir. The Club runs
its own activities such as Economical Plays Scheme,
Cultural programmes, and Summer Music festival,
Late Vasumati Vijapure Solo Acting Competition
etc. Some of these activities are celebrating
their Silver Jubilee. In 1994 when the Club completed
its 100 years, it really reached a landmark apex.
The Institution published a Souvenir on this occasion
and cast a look at the progress of more than a
century. It was realized with due pride that the
Institution persisted performing prose plays when
musical plays were at the height of fame; and
in the present times when prose plays are most
popular, the Club carries forward the tradition
of musical plays persistently. Such musical plays
include several titles including ‘Manapaman’,
‘Swayamwar’ and ‘Katyar Kaljat
Ghusli’. The Club has produced ‘Nishabda
Majgharat’, a musical play written by Ravindra
Khare, a member of the Institution.The play received
a grand appreciation at New Delhi, in the State
level Drama Competitions.
In short, Bharat Natya Samshodhan Mandir has
played a noteworthy and major role in maintaining
and growing the tradition of prose as well as
musical drama in Maharashtra. In our post century
and a decade period under the able guidance of
Prabhakar Karandikar, we have attempted to spread
the glowing history and work of the Institution
world over through its special website.