Written by Gaurangi Dang
If we cannot handle the economics of theatre then what remains of it is a hobby, albeit a very expensive one. So maybe we don’t need theatre anymore and maybe somewhere we are all responsible for its slow death.
Mohit Takalkar has an ability that very few people seem to have- he can move people, to an extent that may even infuriate them. It’s hard to tell when and where it began, but one can see its trace present in his work. There is a little bit of him in each of them, his moods, his life, his loneliness, his growth and somewhere his genius in being able to channel it all through fragments and texts. If you were to ask Mohit, he’d probably describe himself as a medium between the writer, the text and the actor, not denying his presence but somewhere not acknowledging it enough. If you spend enough time with him, then you could probably see how his art consumes him.
Mohit Takalkar, has is the founder of Aasakta Kalamanch, a theatre organization based out of Pune known for it’s contemporary experimental work. Mohit had finished studying to be a culinary chef when he got sucked into the world of theatre. His initial four projects were collaborations with the writer Sachin Kundalkar. The shared the same love for paintings, films, food and aesthetics so it made sense that they were drawn to one another. He also did Elkunchwar’s Pratibhimb, Karnad’s Yayati and many others.
Takalkar could have probably been your average director, had Aasakta not gone through a separation phase and he not begun collaborating with the writer Satee around the same time in 2005 on the play that eventually went on to be known as TU. Tu was a devised piece based on 52 poems by Rumi and it was enchanting both to create and watch. Everyone seemed to have poured all their energy/concerns/frustrations into the play and because it was poetry, it allowed them to channel it and translate it into a piece that was able to communicate more than just words to it’s audience. Tu opened up Aasakta to the world and with it they travelled to places that they hadn’t dreamt of. “At that time everyone was raw, young and green. It happened with passion.” It somewhere defined them as the group that we know today.
I’m not going to list down all of Takalkar’s accomplishments and plays because that would take forever. I’m also not going to talk about how he kept on insisting that theatre is dying, or that he is disappointed in the Marathi audiences or how he believes that his actors have sometimes let him down in the choices they’ve made. I don’t wish to leave you with the impression that Takalkar is some kind of a tormented genius prodigy. He is from what I hear, capable of being quite autocratic in his rehearsal rooms. He is completely human and I’m sure he has done his fair share of crappy work and he seems to understand his limitations better than anyone else. It is his choices in life that set him apart from most. It’s the same choices that dictate the kind of work he creates.
Takalkar’s new project is a restaurant in Pune, where he insists on creating drama and catering to an audience’s needs every night. He is also working on a solo piece away from the elaborate sets, 360-degree setups and large teams that can be seen in his latest works. He is in his own words “going back to basics”.
When the recent batch of NSD was graduating, Anuradha Kapur sat them down to prepare them for life after school and the hardships that came with it. She told them to not be disheartened by it all and then gave them the names of three contemporary directors that she wanted them to go out and work with. The first was Neel Chaudhari of The Tadpole Repertoire in Delhi, the second Abhishek Majumdar of The Indian Ensemble and the third Mohit Takalkar of Aasakta Kalamanch.