May 5, 2021 12:27:12 am
Ashok Kulkarni, the managing trustee of Sahitya Rangabhoomi Pratishthan and a pillar of support for theatre troupes across India, died on Tuesday. He was 84 years old and is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.
“He underwent surgery and was recovering from it. But he had some kind of bacterial infection after that. He, in fact, had recovered from Covid-19, so one can say it was a post-Covid complication. He had friends from the age of eight to 80 and he had done so many things in life that only a few could do. He lived a very satisfying and rich life. He was active till a week back so that is where our solace lies…,” said his son Nilesh Kulkarni.
Born and brought up in Belgaum, Kulkarni went on to hold important posts in organisations such as the Indian Demographic Research Institute. It was during his time in Mumbai that he befriended several members of the experimental theatre and film industry, such as Satyadev Dubey, Vijay Tendulkar, Girish Karnad and Govind Nihalani, who were starting their careers.
After his retirement from Walchand Industries, he decided to spend his time in his beloved field of theatre. He stayed behind the scenes and made an invaluable contribution to theatre in the last 20 years.
“He was a very dear friend of ours and I have known him for almost 40 years. He was part of the ‘Gang of Dharwad’ with Girish Karnad. He was working at Walchand Industries when he met Vinod Doshi … they shared a common love for theatre. He was a friend to young, budding artists and many went to him to seek guidance and help. He was a genuine person who took keen interest in other people’s creativity. His house was kind of an adda for all upcoming artists,” said Satish Alekar, Marathi playwright, actor, and theatre director.
Kulkarni spearheaded the Vinod Doshi Theatre Festival and Saarang Festival for 12 years, from 2008 to 2020. He also started the Vinod Doshi Fellowship to honour young and upcoming artists in the field of performing artists. Later, these fellowships were awarded as the Tendulkar-Dubey Fellowship and the Madhu Ganu Fellowship. Till date, 72 artists have been felicitated with these fellowships.
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