Dhananjaya: The journey from fear to triumph
He was 11 when he first went on to the stage to be a part of a theatre performance. "At that time I started it out of fear of my teacher, but now it seems like I was meant to do this”, Dhananjaya comments on the memory of his journey into the world of theatre. This passion has, over the last 37 years, resulted in 8 National Awards and many extraordinary accolades.
Dhananjaya Kulkarni was just 19 when he directed his first ever independent play in 1990. The play was called 'Tabarana Kathe' and it was the story of a pensioner struggling to get his pension and how it affected his life.
It is not just a coincidence that he chose a topic of social relevance for his maiden directorial venture. Dhananjaya’s inquisitive eye to address issues of people and society is what he brings to work every day. As the PAC Zonal Head at HCCB, he works closely with the community members in Bidadi, driving multiple initiatives in the areas of clean drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and education, to name a few. His efforts have borne fruit, both in the theatre world and on the ground.
After ‘Tabarana Kathe’, Dhananjaya directed over 50 plays and 300 street plays (Nukaad Natak), working with more than 500 artists from across the country. He has worked with eminent theatre personalities like C. Basavalingaiah, Janardhan, Surendranath, Jayateertha Joshi, Raghunandan and Walter D'souza. Most of his works have been around social issues like poverty, social justice, water, politics, dowry, etc.
"Doing theatre is not an easy task. It requires a lot of homework. A play takes about 5-6 months to get into proper shape", he says. Besides directing, he has trained over 200 children in theatre and continues to do so even today. "It is critical to share your knowledge with the next generation. Theatre is a live art form which will and should never die. I'm glad to see the younger generation being active in the field of theatre", he adds.
Passion is what drives Dhananjaya; at work and outside. At work, it is to help the community to eliminate drama from their lives and make it better, and outside, it is to add a dollop of drama to the stage.