His first play Padmavati Parinaya, based on the popular Pauranic story was much appreciated. In 1906, the company staged Shakuntala (of Churamuri), Kalidasa, and Yuvati Vijaya. His success here spurred Venkobarao to move out with the troupe to other parts of Karnataka. In the year 1910, the company visited Mysore and staged plays in the Town Hall. The company's success secured for it royal audience and patronage. Venkobarao, who played Bhattanayaka and Vamanarao Master who played Kalidasa in the play Kalidasa Charite were honoured by the Maharaja.
The Maharaja helped the company to tour Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, staging plays like Vivekodaya, Kalidasa Charite, Pralhada Charitre, Krishna Leela and Ramayana. When in 1916, the troupe visited Mysore again; it was invited by the court to stage Shani Prabhava and Krishna Leela. In later years, the troupe earned a very good name by staging Ramanjaneya Yuddha written by Torangal Rajerao and Indira, a translation by Mamdapur Gururao of the well known Marathi stage play of the same name.
Shirahatti Venkobarao was himself a gifted actor. He often surpassed with his brilliant acting through prose play in Kannada theatre, even the musical achievements of Vamanarao. His asset was a good team of artists. The role of Narada played by Shirahatti, the humour of Lakshmanapuri, the endless musical elaboration of Asundi and the alap of Hombal Vasudevaraya never failed to evoke the enthusiastic admiration of the audience.
Shirahatti believed in showmanship and spent a good deal of money on costumes and settings. He had once witnessed at Mangalore, a Tamil play performed by the Brihadambal Company of Madras (Chennai), and had been convinced that appropriate settings and costumes are fundamental to the creation of dramatic illusion. He immediately spent Rs 6,000/- and obtained specially devised new settings for the play Dasavatara. He did create a perfect theatrical illusion, both for Hiranyakasipu on the stage and for the people in the auditorium, when he made God Narasimha come out breaking open not only the main pillar, but also nine others, and made all the ten Narasimhas ultimately merge together into one Super God.3 Garud Sadashivarao, a noted contemporary actor-playwright observed that Shirahatti's was perhaps the best equipped company in Karnataka, especially during the years 1915 and 1925. Including the tent, Shirahatti's company had forty-seven cartloads of stage property while Garud's own had eleven cartloads of them.
Venkobarao was not only a talented artist, but was also a very able "proprietor" with considerable powers of organisation. Quite often, he had to use "professional tricks" to meet unexpected situations and he played them with shrewdness. His application and intelligence were happily favoured with good luck, and all through, he carefully worked his way to fame and fortune. His company thrived for years, continually adapting itself to the changing tastes of its audiences and ultimately came to an end in 1936. Two years later, Sri Venkobarao passed away. He had rendered his share of service to the stage of Karnataka.
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