(Last Updated on : 29-01-2009)
Mangharam Udharam Malkani was a Sindhi literary historian. He was also a popular actor dramatist who became a legendary figure of letters in his lifetime. Mangharam Udharam Malkani was popularly known as the 'Grand old man of Sindhi literature'. This recognized Gujarati Theatre Personality, Mangharam Udharam Malkani authored over fifty works, which include thirty-five one-act and five full-length plays. He pioneered Sindhi one-act drama and its theatrical presentation. He remained an incessant worker in Sindhi theatre for over fifty years and paved new paths in this neglected field.
Along with Khanchand Daryani, Mangharam Udharam Malkani founded the Rabindranath Literary and Dramatic Club in Hyderabad in 1923. On that occasion, a few scenes from Tagore's drama translated in English, Chitra, were staged in which Malkani acted the main role. His first full-length plays adapted Anglo-American drama. The names are as follows Kismet from Edward Knoblock's play of the same title in 1923, which was premiered in 1927. The other one was Ekatajo alap i.e. 'Prelude to Unity' in 1930, from Israel Zangwilfc Melting Pot.
During the period 1931-45, Mangharam Udharam Malkani, the Gujarati theatre artist took to writing one-act drama seriously, making it a vehicle in colloquial language for social transformation. All except a couple of scripts were produced, with him performing important parts. Mangharam Udharam Malkani established himself as a successful dramatist with Panja nandra nataka i.e. 'Five Short Plays' in 1937 and Pangati par da i.e. 'Social Scenes' in 1938. That was a collection of four texts, thus emulating Bernard Shaw with a Plays Pleasant followed by Plays Unpleasant. His Tea Party, included in the first anthology, comically exposed vain efforts in one-upmanship. Its staging won him critical acclaim. Ladies Club, in the second collection, recalls Sheridan's The School for Scandal. Other compilations are Jivan chahichita i.e. 'Episodes of Life' in 1957, Papu kina punju i.e. 'Sin or Virtue' in 1962, Khurkhabitapya timkani i.e. 'Fireflies Keep Twinkling' in 1967, Akhrin bheta i.e. 'Last Presentation' in 1976, and Samunda jigajkar i.e. 'Roar of the Sea' in 1979. Malkani described his plays as ugra natak or unpleasant plays, dealing with premarital and extramarital relations, marital incompatibility, and the consequences thereof. They were labeled as obscene, but the truth is that Mangharam Udharam Malkani, the eminent Gujarati theatre personality was ahead of his time.