A high standard of acting and a missionary zeal are the two significant aspects of Garud's life and these are richly reflected in the plays staged by the Dattatreya Company. At eighteen, he wrote out a musical play Markandeya in Kannada language and brought it on the stage. For about twelve years since his initial success, Garud struggled in Kalburgi, Bijapur and Dharwar and the villages near about, trying to train artists and build up a sound professional troupe to stage his own plays. He made a study of stage-acting as a science, and took to training the artists of the Koppal, Hornbal and Konnur professional troupes. Finally, with the financial assistance given by the friendly Sivamurthiswami Kanbargimath, he started his own troupe, rehearsed his own plays and set out to try his luck.
The Dattatraya Mandali soon earned a reputation for the literary merit of its plays and its well-trained actors. The troupe did not have any imposing settings or costumes during the first ten years of its life, for, Garud desired to prove that a professional troupe could thrive gloriously on the merit of its themes and good acting. By the year 1934, however, the company had been able to equip itself remarkably well, spending what, in those days, must have been a fabulous amount, and had become highly popular. Garud staged his plays in every important village and town of Karnataka and Maharashtra. His troupe continued to be the training ground for many a young artist. Apart from Garud himself, Neelkant Gadgoli, Seetaram and Pavanje attracted great crowds. The troupe was frequently invited to pay visits to Poona, Sangli, Jamkhandi and Kolhapur. It set a new standard for the Marathi theatre and drama stage with an emphasis on abhinaya
Garud seems to have written fifty-four full length stage-plays based on popular themes of Kannada theatre - mythology, history and contemporary society. Many of his plays like Ecchamanayaka, Paduka Pattabhiseka, Visama Vivaha, Sakti Vilasa, Kabirdas and Sharana Basava earned a good name for the Dattatreya Mandali. The troupe came to be recognized for its team spirit, moral character and a high order of acting. Garud was a hard task-master, a meticulous but patient trainer and a man who imposed on himself and every other actor of the troupe a strict moral code.
The Dattatreya Nataka Mandali set a standard in stage acting. It was the first troupe to rekindle the love of their land in the hearts of people of Karnataka, with its powerful plays like Ecchamanayaka and Sharana Basava. The troupe proved that the greatest asset of a professional troupe was its faithful actor who had the patience to learn and practise the art of drama and who had a sincere desire to serve it. The troupe heralded a message that the stage was a temple of art both for the artist and the audience and that it should be so treated for the country's own benefit. Garud suffered a terrible blow in the death of his last child, a girl of six, who was a prodigy in acting, and this proved fatal to the progress of the company. The company virtually came, to a close in 1944.
(Last Updated on : 13-04-2012)
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