Read Part 1 here
When he finally decided to come to Ahmedabad in 1994, Yogesh Gadhvi had Rs 800 in his pocket. “On coming here, I realised real estate was doing good and I got working on it. I earned Rs 30,000 in the first 15 days and another Rs 2,20,000 at the end of the month. Somehow, I feel money always came to me; I never had to do without it…perhaps am God’s chosen child. I also have strong intuition and more often than not, prefer to follow the voice within,” says Gadhvi, who within a year of dealing in real estate, realised it wasn’t the most ethical of works. “And so I left it in a year. My father wondered why I left or changed jobs every year!”
Soon, Gadhvi began with singing daayro, reciting poems, etc. and happened to meet danseuse Mallika Sarabhai who at the time was helming television channel Tara. “She wanted me to do a programme on kaubhand lok (scandal-centric). In daayro format, she suggested I recite incidents based not on raja-maharajas but on the current social scenario and scandals in the fields of education, politics, administration and more. I did about 30 episodes and felt reborn. I made a name within a year and got recognition. I also realised I liked making changes and fighting for causes. Situations cropped up and I found myself joining BJP…soon Narendra Modi came to power,” recalls Gadhvi, who has done more than 750 stage talks for Modi and has also been Convener of BJP’s Cultural Cell of Gujarat. Considering the man has “a good sync of thoughts and words”, it wasn’t a tough call to pick him for the seat of Chairman, Gujarat Rajya Sangeet Natak Academy. And that has been the start of an “amazing, activity-filled journey”. For one, Gadhvi participates in all programmes of the Academy and two, he ensures he isn’t present for namesake but to enjoy, participate or view a performance from “beginning to end”.
By now, I definitely want to know how many programmes he attends in a month, how many cities he tours in a week and whether or not he goes through photographs of the event once it is over. “In a month I attend at least about 20 programmes, each one could be in different cities across the state and, well, I have over 27,000 photographs of events done in these two-and-half years which I often go through,” he says, leaving me and a few dedicated artistes in the chamber of Ravishankar Raval Kala Bhavan, wide-eyed. There have been times he has attended close to three-four events in a day… “Yes, I do that. There was a drama, an arangetram and a concert recently and I was there for each”, he says, matter-of-factly.
Having travelled across the state and knowing and interacting with artistes closely, is there a particularity that defines a region/city or its people in terms of arts? “There are certain approaches people from different cities have; for example, Ahmedabad has many artistes who are very wise but they weigh pros and cons of everything too much. Artistes in Rajkot have enthusiasm and strength; Surat has lots of money and facilities, is very affected by Mumbai, but has less unity in the artiste community. I guess where money is less, there is more unity,” he emphasises, poignantly.
Touch upon festivals and you have much to know of changes Gadhvi introduced. In Tana Riri Mahotsav held in Vadnagar, for example, there are a lot more Gujarati artistes, especially women artistes, participating now. The two-day fest has moved to other cities now – Bhavnagar, Palanpur, Kutch and Jamnagar. Pandit Omkarnath Festival held in Surat is now also held in Bharuch. So, is it the more the merrier? “Should be that way, theatre and related arts are a slice out of life,” says Gadhvi, who floated an interesting project last year of flagging off 70 plays together. “It was indeed interesting; ‘70 natako muhurat ek saathe ek haathe’, that’s how it was,” he shares, about the mahurat of 70 plays, all at one place, each team present. This International Theatre Day, there was something equally exciting, in the form of Takhta no Tokhar, a mega-drama fest held across 12 cities – Surat, Ankleshwar, Godhra, Anand, Modasa, Palanpur, Bhuj, Surendranagar, Junagadh, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Porbander. “There were 40 plays, 84 shows, over 2,000 artistes and four lakh viewers between March 21-27,” Gadhvi informs, “always recharged to introduce and involve more people”. Workshops help further his cause. “A lot more can learn and benefit I feel,” says the Chairman of the Academy that has conducted a variety of workshops including Sugam Sangeet, Classical (dance) Makeup, Scriptwriting, New Techniques, Daayro, Storywriting.
And, interestingly, the list does not end.
Photographs : Aneri Nihalini
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