A. V. Varadachar, a contemporary of Bellave Narahari Sastri, was one of the foremost playwrights in the gestation period of Kannada literature.
His Early Life
Born in 1869 to a family of Brahmin civil servants, A. V. Varadachar was a person with an attractive physique and a good voice. He never had any formal training or background in theatre but his physical attributes and his minimal training in music led him to act in plays during 1880s in Mysore and Bangalore.
A. V. Varadachar started his professional career in 1889 when several Nataka companies came up in Mysore to compete with the first professional theatre company established under the palace’s patronage. From such a background, A. V. Varadachar became an influential actor and playwright and developed many novel styles later adopted by other theatre troupes. He individuated the clichéd characters from epics and dressed them in a new sense of realism.
His Theatre Troupe
The Ratnavali Company was founded by A. V. Varadachar in Bangalore in the year 1904. The company ran for 20 years, running productions like Ratnavali, Manmatha Vijaya and Nirupama. The troupe travelled to every nook and corner in Karnataka, gaining a supportive audience and did several performances outside the state as well.
However, Ratnavalli Nataka Company could not survive the peak of competition and unlike Gubbi Theatre Company, the troupe suffered huge losses. The company could not hang on for long, and due to the lack of a regular audience, things began deteriorating in 1920 and the company finally closed down in 1923. A. V. Varadachar died three years later in 1926.
The Contributions of A. V. Varadachar
A.V. Varadachar was conferred the title of “Natakasiromani” or the “Crest Jewel of Drama” by his contemporary actors and other theatre artists. He introduced novel tricks in the field of theatre that had a lasting impact.
His plays were always laced with classical music, and singing became an integral part of acting in his plays. His renderings Hiranyakasipu and Dushyanta involved wavering emotional subtleties and created psychologically nuanced characters onstage.