Renowned playwright and poet Gopal Sharman passed away Thursday afternoon in Delhi. He was 81. He is survived by his wife Jalabala Vaidya and daughter Anasuya Vaidya-Shetty.
Sharman who has written fourteen plays and dozens of television programmes, including the hugely popular India Alive.
He is however known for his dramatised version of the Ramayana.
Along with his wife Jalabala, he founded the Akshara Theatre in central Delhi in 1972. His creativity reflects in the architecture, stage design, lighting and the seating arrangements of this cultural space tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the capital’s nerve centre, Connaught Place.
Sharman shot into prominence with his play “Full Circle” which was based on his stories and poems. the play which premiered in London was performed by his wife Jalabala Vaidya.
Sharman was invited by the Royal Shakespeare Company of Great Britain to stage a play during their World Theatre Season in 1968. He came to India to put together the play with an ensemble cast.
But they refused to do the play at the last minute.
They decided to present the epic in a Katha style, with Jalabala Vaidya portaying all the 20 characters in the play. The play, considered as Sharman’s masterpiece was staged at all major performing venues in the world and in several cities and towns of India.
The New York Times hailed it as “India’s gift to Broadway” when it was staged in New York’s Broadway
Born in Calcutta in 1935, Sharman started his career as a journalist in Lucknow and calcutta, before moving to Delhi in 1958.
Moving to London later, he has written on the arts for The Times and the Sunday Times. He also wrote columns for the Washington Post while in London.