Bhopal: Witty ‘Vidushak’ embraces eternal sleep with a smile

BHOPAL: A great player that strutted and fretted upon his hour on the stage has suddenly disappeared. Yes, the founder of Rang Vidushak, Bhopal, Bansi Kaul, has suddenly walked off the stage, leaving hundred of artistes across the country orphaned. Nearly 1,500 artistes from all over the country have worked with Rang Vidhushak at one time or the other.

Padma Shri Kaul passed away at his residence in Delhi on Saturday morning. The 71-year-old Kaul, ailing for a long time, was diagnosed with cancer in November last year.

Kaul had a long association with Bhopal. In 1975, he staged Hindi adaptation of Greek plays Oedipus and that of Antigone at the open stage of Ravindra Bhawan. In 1978, he organised Mach Mela at Ujjain. He was a member of the selection panel of Rangmandal, the theatre wing of Bharat Bhavan, when it came into being in 1982.

A scene from Rang Vidushak’s  play 'Saudagar', which was staged in a drama festival, organized by Abhinav Rangmandal in Ujjain last year. (File Photo)
A scene from Rang Vidushak’s play 'Saudagar', which was staged in a drama festival, organized by Abhinav Rangmandal in Ujjain last year. (File Photo)

He was a great admirer of the Bhopali dialect and sense of humour of the Bhopalis. He used it in his play 'Tukke Pe Tukka', which is being staged for the past 30 years now. And that's why he made Bhopal the headquarters of Rang Vidushak in 1984. Outside India, the theatre group has staged plays at theatre festivals held in Suriname, Colombia, Bangladesh, Denmark, Singapore and Pakistan.

Kaul was a vice-president of the Rangshree Little Ballet Troupe Trust, Bhopal. Madhya Pradesh government conferred on him Rashtriya Kalidas Samman (2016–17) and Shikhar Samman (1993-94). Artists in the city have told Free Press they have lost their friend, a father and a guide.

Around 1,500 artistes from all over the country have worked with Rang Vidushak at one time or the other. There are thousands of others whom he trained in workshops. I was associated with him since 1982. Secularism, dignity of women, protection of environment and bridging the chasm between the rich and the poor were issues that were close to his heart. Zindagi Jaunk Hai and Jadoo Jangal Hai were among his productions themed on environmental protection. He gave a new dimension to the character of Vidushak. For him, Vidushak was not only about making the audience laugh. His Vidushak had his hands on the pulse of the establishment. In his passing away, I have lost a friend, a father and a guide. Now, we have the responsibility of taking his philosophy ahead.- Farid Bazmi, founder member of Rang Vidushak.

He had a long association with Madhya Pradesh. In 1975, he had staged Hindi adaptations of Greek plays Oedipus and Antigone at the open air auditorium of the Ravindra Bhavan. In 1978, he organised Mach Mela at Ujjain. He was a member of the selection panel of Rangmandal the theatre wing of Bharat Bhavan, when it came into being in 1982. In 1989, he formed Rang Vidushak. He travelled extensively. He did a lot of work in Jabalpur, Ujjain and Sagar. His demise marks the passing away of a generation of theatre persons who were trained by the likes of Ebrahim Alkazi and had matured working with the likes of B.B. Karanth. I had played the role of Ashwathama in 'Andha Yug' directed by him. His popularity was nationwide. Today, people from Hyderabad to Kashmir and from NSD to MPSD are remembering him. We were planning to stage the dramatic adaptation of a novel and I was to play a role in it. However, fate had ordained otherwise.- Alok Chatterjee, director of Madhya Pradesh School of Drama

I was associated with Kaul sahib for the past 25 years and with Rang Vidushak for 19 years. On some of his visits to Bhopal, he stayed at my home. Apart from theatre director, he was also a painter. He had also designed the cultural part of prestigious events like the Commonwealth Games and the South Asian Games. He was also a lifetime trustee of the Rangshree Little Ballet Troupe Trust. He was an admirer of the Bhopali dialect and sense of humour of the Bhopalis. He used it in his play 'Tukke Pe Tukka', which is being staged for the past 30 years now. And that's why he made Bhopal the headquarters of Rang Vidushak. He had a house in Bhopal but he was not the one to live at one place for a long period. He conducted workshops lasting a month or even more and that also made it necessary for him to live at different places.- Sanjay Shrivastava, theatre actor and director.

I was a freelance artist. He gave me a place to live and included me in his repertory. He was not only my Guru but also my father. Today, whatever I am, it is because of him. And that is true of many others as well. He was a school of theatre in himself. His method of training was very different from the others. 'Unka jaana mere liye pita ka saya chhin jaana hai.- Susheel Kant Mishra, former alumnus of National School of Drama.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in