The show must go on: Iconic theatre to thrill Bengalureans once again

The show must go on: Iconic theatre to thrill Bengalureans once again

Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2017-02-08 09:39 Bengaluru: Theatre artist Malathy Sudheer, wife of Sandalwood actor Sudheer, is a relieved woman these days. Her four-year-long struggle to get the iconic Gubbi Veeranna Rangamandira up and running has finally born fruit.The rangamandira is all set to host its first show on Thursday afternoon. The venue was shut four years ago due to poor maintenance and other reasons."I am happy that my struggle has finally given a fruitful result,” says Malathy. “Waiting in queues to meet ministers, corporators and BBMP officials for four long years was absolutely painful but it doesn’t matter now. Now more than 50 artistes across Karnataka will come and work here and earn for themselves."Malathy Sudheer The rangamandira was founded by legendary actor and director Gubbi Veeranna in 1924. Over 92 years old, the venue and has a capacity to seat 550 people.Malathy says the theatre experience has to be preserved considering the onslaught of modern entertainment. "It is our right to preserve theatre. After the reopening, many people told me that I am doing a good job. They had missed the shows,” says Malathy.Malathy’s initiation into theatre began when she was just 16. And she credits Minaguthare Kalpana, a popular actress, for the move."In 1976, Minuguthare Mitra Mandali, a group of artists were looking for a young girl who could dance,” she explains. “They wanted to replace an artist. My neighbour told the group that I danced well. Although I was not a professional dancer, they liked the way I danced and said that I was into their team."Malathy credits actress Kalpana for instilling in her the value of discipline. "I did not even know that one has to wash hands before having food,” says Malathy, who grew up in absolute poverty. “Kalpana madam taught me the discipline that I needed to cultivate if I wanted to act.”In 1977, Malathy fell in love with Sudheer, a theatre artist who went on to essay several villainous roles in Kannada films."Kalpana madam got us married,” she says, her eyes turning moist at the mention of her husband, who tragically died at the young age of 34. “I feel his presence and want him to keep his memory alive by staging shows in the theatre. It was his dream. When he wanted to establish Karnataka Kala Vaibhava Sangha, I yelled at him. Because as theater artistes, we both had seen many ups and downs in our lives. But he went ahead. Today, through this organisation, I am able to help many artistes."One of those grateful for Malathy’s work is John Felix, a drummer and a musician. "I have been working with Malathy madam for twenty years,” recalls Felix, who joined the troupe when he was 10 years old. “In 1984, my salary was Rs 2 per day and now it is Rs 700 per day. My wife Leela is also into acting. She is also part of the play which will be staged on Thursday. I have worked with KBR drama company and also Chindodi Leela drama company."Hemanth, who is in his 40s, has been associated with Karnataka Kala Vaibhava Sangha all his adult life. He too is ecstatic at the reopening of the theatre. "I am an electrician. We earn our daily bread when we get work in the theatre. We are also given food thrice in a day," he says.All set for 'Mudukana Maduve'This weekend, Bengalureans can watch the play 'Mudukana Maduve' (Old Man's Marriage). There will be two shows on weekdays and three on Sunday.Apart from this, the group is making efforts to distribute pamphlets and also put up digital hoardings to promote the show."We have to pay Rs 75,750 as rent every month to the BBMP,” says Malathy. “Once the contract gets over, it will be given to some other theatre group. We are also responsible for the maintenance of the Rangamandira. For now, I have not opened the balcony section because many people come and create nuisance by drinking alcohol.”