(Last Updated on : 22-03-2012)
Amrit Keshav Nayak was a legendary Gujarati actor, director, and also writer in old Parsi theatre
. He was born in 1877. Amrit Keshav Nayak began at the age of 11 with the then very popular Alfred Company
, and enchanted viewers with his farcical role in Gamdeki gori or 'Village Nymph'. Not satisfied with the easy success, he went to Lucknow
to seriously study the Natyasastra
and equip himself with the craft of singing and dancing. Alfred's manager appointed him as an assistant director at the age of 15, when he directed Allauddin and played the role of Laila. His independent directorial ventures included Shakespeare's Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet in Urdu language
Because of the treatment he gave to the tense romantic plots, with catchy songs and versatile acting, he was acclaimed as the invincible hero of Gujarati theatre
. The Urdu dramatist Agha Hashr Kashmiri adapted Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" for him as Murid-e-shaq or 'Victim of Suspicion' in 1899. He introduced the actress and his beloved Gauharjan and, teaming up with her and her sister, Khatun, directed Hashars plays. He was so popular with audiences that he had to appear every time for three curtain calls and standing ovations. Differences with Alfred's owner, Cowasji Khatao, forced him to leave the company and gather an actors' group, Parsi Natak Mandali, to produce Shakespeare's Cymbeline in Urdu as Mitha zahr or 'Sweet Poison'. In those times Amrit Keshav Nayak also used to write an anti-colonial column in the Calcutta newspaper, Amrita Bazar Patrika, and penned a patriotic play, Bharat durdasha natak or 'Drama on India's Sorry Plight', and a novel. Amrit Keshav Nayak died in 1907.