Ravji Gopal Mhaskar and Nimkar brothers
set up Swadesh Hitachintak Natak Mandli in 1894. The company
performed prose as well as musical plays. ‘Shakuntal’,
‘Soubhadra’, ‘Mruchhakatik’, ‘Shap
Sambhram’, ‘Gopichand’, ‘Mudrika’,
and ‘Chandrahas were a few of them.
In 1897, Janubhau successfully produced
Baba Dongre’s play ‘Chandrasena’.
Swadesh Hitachintak started competing
with Kirloskar Natak Mandli, since then. Swadesh Hitachintak
gathered momentum when Keshavrao Bhosale started playing Sharda,
in 1902 in the play bearing the same name.
The company was perhaps the first
theatre group to put up ‘Shakuntal’ in the Sanskrit
After a vertical split in 1907, Janubhau
took up Mama Varerkar’s play ‘Kunjavihari’
and produced it with great success. Vishnupant Pagnis, in
the Gujarathi garb of Radha and Gujarathi songs literally
maddened the crowds.
Though Janubhau was not very much
educated, he had studied holy books like Gita, Bhagwat, etc.
He showed due respect for the fine art called ‘drama’.
He saw to it that all actors did their
roles, major or minor, as per decided by the director. He
never played to the gallery.
His performances were sleeks, the
actors’ diction perfect and there would be no prompter.
Janubhau himself gave rigorous training to his actors in speech
He never got carried away with excessive
craze for music and nor did he let his troupe do so. He certainly
did have drawbacks, such as impatience, adamance and irascible
In 1912, Swadesh Hitachintak Natak
Mandli came to an end. It enjoyed lime-light with its two
hit plays ‘Sharda’ and ‘Kunjavihari’
for about a decade and a half. The company must be given credit
for introducing a unique singer-actor like Keshavrao Bhosale
onto the Marathi stage.