(Last Updated on : 28/01/2009)
Arvind Yeshwant Deshpande was the founder member of Rangayan in 1960. Born in 1932 he was very popular and named after Vijaya Mehta, for directing Vijay Tendulkar`s plays. The prominent one`s was `Shantata! Court chalu ahe` i.e. `Silence! The Court Is in Session` in 1967. Deshpande was also popular for his association with the Chhabildas movement of alternative Marathi theatre. He began acting in Tendulkar`s Ajgar anigandharva i.e. `The Python and the Celestial Singer` in 1954. This was directed by Vijaya Jaywant and Mantis navache bet i.e. `An Island Called Man` in 1956. This was directed by Damu Kenkre. The gamut of roles he played ranged from the frivolous to the tragic. His memorable ones in mainstream theatre were Vasuanna in P. L. Deshpande`s Tujhe ahe tujapashi i.e. `To Each His Own` in 1957, Awchat in Vishram Bedekar`s Vajepaula apule i.e. `Sound of My Footsteps` in 1967, and Visubhau in Deshpande`s 77 phularani i.e. `Flower Queen` in 1975. His major plays as a director were Tendulkar`s Sariga sari i.e. `Lost Necklace` in 1964, Shantata!, Girish Karnad`s Tughlaq in Tendulkar`s translation in 1971, and Tendulkar` Pahije jatiche i.e. `Wanted from the Right Caste` in 1976. Although his direction was not path-breaking by any means, his productions, always well-rehearsed and tidy, offered meaningful theatre which eschewed mainstream formulae.
In 1968 Arvind, his actress wife Sulabha Deshpande, and close associate Arun Kakade split from Rangayan to set up their own group, Awishkar. They hired the Chhabildas Boys` School hall on a long-term basis at a minimal rent for amateur theatre. Dozens of experimental groups used this intimate space and burgeoned into what came to be known as the Chhabildas movement. With Sulabha he realized their joint dream of a children`s wing, Chandrashala, under whose auspices they presented the charming dance-drama Durga jhali Gauri i.e. `Durga Becomes Gauri` in 1982. He also acted in a few Marathi and Hindi films and serials, notably as the hero`s father in Albert Pinto ko gussa kyon ata hat i.e. `What Makes Albert Pinto Angry` in 1980 and the trade unionist in Tarang i.e. `Wave` in 1983 as well. This multi-talented personality died in 1987.