Pune: Naseeruddin Shah Criticizes Naming Theatres After Politicians, Advocates for Artist Recognition

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Pune, 18th January 2024: “It upsets me that the artists who have dedicated their entire lives to the stage, do not have theatres dedicated to their names. But instead, I always have the question that why are there theatres in the name of so many politicians?’ expressed veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah. He was speaking at the formal inauguration of the ‘Shreeram Lagoo Rang – Avakash’ set up by the Lagoo family and the Maharashtra Cultural Centre today. This project is developed on the first floor of the Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha Building, Hirabaug, Tilak Road.

Dignitaries like Dr Shreeram Lagoo’s wife; Deepa Lagoo, son; Dr Anand Lagoo renowned actress; Ratna Pathak Shah, Dr Mohan Agashe; President, and S P Kulkarni; Chairman of the Maharashtra Cultural Centre were present on the occasion. Rajesh Deshmukh; Secretary and Shubhangi Damle; Treasurer of the Maharashtra Cultural Centre along with other members and renowned personalities from the theatre industry were also present.

While speaking on the occasion, Naseeruddin Shah said, “It bothers me as an artist to know that there are theatres named after politicians but not the artists like Shambhu Mitra, Utpal Dutt, Girish Karnad, B V Karnath, Satyadev Dubey or Tanvir Habib. Even a state like Maharashtra, which has been the birthplace of theatre plays, does not have theatres in the name of theatre artists except Dr Kashinath Ghanekar and Bal Gandharva.”

“But today, I feel privileged and fortunate enough to have inaugurated the ‘Shreeram Lagoo Ranga – Avakash’ in Pune. I hope this space becomes the second home for artists who would perform here,” Shah added.

“In 1971, when I was studying in the 2nd year of the National School of Drama (NSD), I saw Dr Lagoo’s play ‘Aadhe Adhoore.’ I had already read the Hindi version of it, twice. But the moment I saw Dr Lagoo perform in this play, my heart skipped a beat, and my eyes were left wide open! His intonation and the clarity in voice were outstanding and we could hear it till the last row. The way his eyes did the talking, and the way he controlled his emotions, felt as if his craft played on his fingertips. I was stunned by Dr. Lagoo’s performances in ‘Gidhada,’ ‘Kasturi’ and ‘Surya Pahilela Manus.’ I even asked myself if I could ever perform like him, but the answer was no. But as a young artist, I unknowingly kept learning from him like ‘Eklavya,” he reminisced.

Dr Mohan Agashe expressed that in today’s changing times, Dr Shreeram Lagoo and Naseeruddin Shah can be called ‘Theatre Loyalists.’ Because if even they’ve done anything else workwise, they’ve always remained dedicated to theatres.

Dr Anand Lagoo explained the importance of Shreeram Lagoo Rang–Avakash and the idea behind setting it up and Shubhangi Damle shared the journey of Shreeram Lagoo Rang – Avakash based on the concept of a ‘black box theater.’ Rajesh Deshmukh moderated the program while Kiran Yadnyopavit presented the vote of thanks.