(Last Updated on : 22/07/2009)
Goverdhan Hemchand Panchal was a Gujarati designer and a great scholar. He was born in the small village of Chhatiarda, north Gujarat in 1913. He showed an interest in fine arts at school in Bombay and qualified in painting under Nandalal Bose at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan
in Bengal. His innate theatrical abilities led him to perform there before Rabindranath Tagore
. He featured in the cast of Tagore's dance-dramas that toured India in the 1930s. Later, he took charge of theatre at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
in Bombay as principal of its dance wing. He directed dance-dramas like Jay Somanath or 'Hail Somanath'. He helped in the establishment of the Indian National Theatre
, designing sets for its early dance-dramas. In 1959 he went to the National School of Drama
, New Delhi, as Assistant Professor for Scenic Design and Stagecraft. He was teaching there till 1975.
Goverdhan Hemchand Panchal designed sets for about eighty productions by many contemporary directors. Some of them were quite experimental. He also directed four Sanskrit plays in 'authentic' style based on the Natyosastm, involving young actors like Raju Barot, Harinakshi Desai, and Harikishan Varma, of which Dutavakya in 1990 and Prabuddha Rauhineya in 1993 won national recognition. He authored six books on theatre, all illustrated by him, including Kuttampalam
.these were the study of the traditional auditorium for Sanskrit theatre in Kerala. He also authored the Theatres of Bharata and some Aspects of Sanskrit Play-production. His contribution to research on Bhavai
, the Gujarati folk form, was equally notable. His lecture demonstrations are preserved by All India Radio
, and the National Centre for Performing Arts
, Mumbai. Goverdhan Hemchand Panchal died in 1996.
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