Veteran theatre artist Pradeep Vernekar no more

Pradeep Vernekar, a nationally acclaimed theatre artist from Goa, expired at his Ribandar residence early Friday morning. He was 70. 

Having studied at the National School of Drama in New Delhi, Vernekar was honoured by the Goa government with a prestigious State Cultural Award in 2016. He was also the recipient of a Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India.

Vernekar, married to his classmate in NSD Sushila alias Dipti, taught at the School of Drama at Goa Kala Academy from 1987-89. Later, for a brief period, he was also teaching theatre to children at Bal Bhavan, Goa.

His students still remember his two-year tenure at Kala Academy mainly due to his authority over Classical Indian Drama, besides his specialised training skills in Acting and Direction. 

Veteran theatre artist Pradeep Vernekar recieving Goa State Culture Award for 2016

“He was a real authority on Indian Classical Drama and through performances of several Sanskrit dramas he directed, we realised the richness of Indian Classical theatre”, said Leena Pednekar, a veteran retired journalist, who had studied theatre under him. 

Vernekar’s speciality was the literature in Classical Indian Drama. He not only taught it in Goa but also delivered lectures and conducted theatre workshops all across India through the NSD. After his brief tenure, the dramatist couple went back to Delhi and produced many memorable plays under the banner of their production house ‘Avant Garde’. 

Theatre personalities like Bapi Bose, Satyabrat Rout, Sudip Chakraborty and Lokendra Trivedi were his colleagues in conducting these workshops, right up to the North Eastern states of India. 

Shridhar Kamat Bambolkar, Goa’s veteran theatre personality and Chairman of Konkani Natak Sangeet Academy, recalled on social media his marvellous production from Goa for the Sangeet Natak Academy in New Delhi. 

According to Dr Saiesh Deshpande, he was very meticulous in the whole production process and involved all the artist students in all aspects of theatre, including its technical features.

“While stylisation of drama was his speciality, Vernekar Sir was equally competent in realistic theatre. In fact, his adaptation of ‘Elipathayam’ (Rat-Trap), a Malayalam movie by Adoor Gopalakrishnan that won the British Film Institute of Award, into a realistic drama was a masterpiece we watched in Goa”, recalled Dr Deshpande. 

Equally acclaimed was his Hindi translation of Pundalik Naik’s famous radio play ‘Marnkatto”. Later, Vernekar adapted it as a drama for Natya Junction Theatre and performed with artists like Bikash Kumar Singh and Angad Patwardhan. 

While in Goa soon after passing out from the NSD, he did not restrict himself to teaching theatre in the School of Drama but reached out to the amateur theatre lovers in Goan villages with his experimentation. 

Hayavadan, the famous play by Girish Karnad, was one of such experiments, which he directed and performed at a village feast in Cumbarjua in the ‘80s. And surprisingly, it was well-received by the village audience. 

Kashinath Mayenkar, one of such theatre artist from Mayem village, recalls on his FB post the Bahurupi Kala Manch he had founded in the village and the drama ‘Bashing’ he had directed. 

Vernekar was back in Goa around five years ago, living in Ribandar. The critical reviews he wrote in local newspapers of the dramas performed at Kala Academy’s drama competition were an eye-opener for Goan critics on how to analyse theatre and write critical reviews. 

Durgakumar Navti, another critic on dramas, remembers his association with Vernekar during Kala Academy’s drama competition and how discussions with him helped enrich his knowledge about theatre. 

According to information, he was rushed to the hospital and breathed his last on Friday.  

The last rites were conducted on Saturday at Ribandar crematorium by his sons Apurva and Abhir.  Several theatre artists attended his funeral, including Padmashree Josalkar, a theatre personality and wife of late Vasant Josalkar, another Goan veteran in the field of Indian theatre. Madam Josalkar said:

Pradeep Vernekar was my senior at the NSD and later my colleague at  Kala Academy Goa. I remember him as a soft-spoken person and he used to make extensive notes.  His script, both Devanagari and Roman were well modulated. I heard from his classmates at NSD that he had given good performances in ‘Hedda Gabler’, ‘Himalay Ki Chhaya’ and ‘A View from the Bridge’. Just a few months ago, he lost his wife; Sushila Vernekar, also an alumnus of NSD. I pray for his soul to rest in peace and courage to his family members to bear this loss.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *