Mahesh Dattani is considered one of the best Indian playwrights, and he writes his pieces in English. He is an actor, playwright and director.
A Look at His Early Years
Mahesh Dattani was born on the 7th of August in 1958 in Bangalore, Karnataka. He was educated at Baldwin’s Boys High School and then went on to graduate from St.Joseph’s College, Bangalore. After graduation, he worked for a brief period as a copywriter for an advertising firm. In 1986, he wrote his first play, ‘Where There is a Will’.
Mahesh Dattani’s Works
After his first play, Mahesh Dattani began to concentrate on his writing and wrote more dramas like Final Solutions, Night Queen, Dance Like a Man, Tara, and Thirty Days. In 1995, he started working exclusively in theatre.
All his plays address social issues, not the very obvious ones, but the deep-seated prejudices and problems that society is usually conditioned to turn away from. His plays deal with gender identity, gender discrimination, and communal tensions. The play ‘Tara’ deals with gender discrimination, ‘30 Days in September’ tackles the issue of child abuse head-on, and ‘Final Solutions’ is about the lingering echoes of the partition.
It was Alyque Padamsee who first spotted and encouraged Mahesh Dattani’s talent and gave him the confidence to venture into a career in theatre. Dattani formed his own theatre group, Playpen, in 1984.
He is the only English playwright to be awarded the Sahitya Academy Award. He got this award in 1998. He also writes plays for BBC Radio and he was also one of the 21 playwrights chosen by BBC to write plays to commemorate Chaucer’s 600th anniversary in 2000.
His Plays as Movies
Mahesh Dattani’s Play ‘Dance Like a Man’ was made into a film in 2003, directed by Pamela Rooks and starring Shobana, Arif Zakaria and Anoushka Shankar. This movie won the award for Best Picture in English at the National Panorama.
Mahesh Dattani himself directed Mango Soufflé in 2002. He also wrote and directed Morning Raga in 2004. Starring Shabana Azmi, this movie is about a Carnatic singer whose life has been traumatized by losing her son and best friend in an accident. It earned Dattani an award for Best Artistic Contribution at the Cairo Film Festival.
Mahesh Dattani is one of India’s most successful playwrights, and his plays are known for addressing issues that society tries to hide or turn its face away from. Besides being a busy playwright and director, he also conducts Summer Theatre Courses at the University of Oregon, USA. He also has his theatre studio in Bangalore, where he offers courses in acting, directing and writing.