(Last Updated on : 22/07/2009)
Adi Pherozeshah Marzban was a Gujarati playwright, actor, director, broadcaster, and doyen of the 'new' Parsi theatre. He was born in Bombay in 1914. He received his theatre training in the US, at the Pasadena Playhouse. While editing the Parsi weekly Jame Jamshed after his return to Bombay, he was involved in directing and acting for the Amateur Dramatic Circle, Indian National Theatre, Indian People's Theatre Association, and other groups. His most successful productions, always neat and slick, were Katariyungap i.e. 'The Head Is Lost', Ardhi rate ahat i.e. 'Knock at Midnight', Kaka thaya vanka i.e. 'Uncle Behaves Funny', Behramni sasu i.e. 'Behram's Mother- in-law', Mota dilna bava i.e. 'Large-hearted Elder', and English theatre like Brandon Thomas's Charleys Aunt and J. B. Priesdeys vlw Inspector Calls. Often he improvised the dialogues in his plays while rehearsing them. He was competent in magic, ventriloquism, and Western dance; he imparted this knowledge to his casts. He was known for picturesque scenic and lighting design, naturalistic stagecraft, and a sense of timing for humorous punch lines and delivery. Adi Pherozeshah Marzban's keen sense of music and nose for journalism made his shows well orchestrated and socially relevant.
Marzban and his manager, Pesi Khandalawala, pioneered the practice of paying members of an amateur group, by sharing profits among them equally. He was a theatre teacher at heart, Marzban taught young actor-directors like Phiroz Antia, Homi Tawadia, Burjor Patel, and Ruby Patel, who carry on the tradition of Parsi-Gujarati farces and comedies following the master's footsteps. As late as 1972, he had a massive hit with 'Ah! Norman'. That was adapted from Norman, 'Is That You?' by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick'. This logged up hundreds of shows. He grew very popular with listeners of All India Radio for a weekly feature with C. C. Mehta titled Dhan Shak Manual i.e. 'Association for Dhan Shak', a favourite Parsi recipe. Adi Pherozeshah Marzban also scripted the stunt movie Carnival Queen in 1955 featuring the cult favourite Fearless Nadia. He died in the year 1987.
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