Nutrition for the body, mind, soul and spirit is what film and theatre actor, and eminent psychiatrist, Mohan Agashe is consumed with, as he lectures in educational institutes across the country to stress on the importance of building creative connections. He was in Chandigarh to address students and teachers at Chitkara University and conduct a session on “Bringing Theatre into Classroom”. The veteran reflected how in this jungle of information, emotional quotient is fast diminishing, as many young men and women struggle to deal with emotions and how to express them. “They use the vocabulary of emotions, but without experiencing them and this is where theatre, art and films can play a pivotal role in helping us lead an enriched life. With information fast replacing experience, we cannot solely depend on textbooks and teachers. My experiences have taught me a lot about subtext and life is about subtext,” shares the actor, who further emphasises the need is to integrate creative mediums like theatre, story-telling and films into classroom spaces.
Learning, says Agashe, a Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee, begins with the senses and creative pursuits provide food for the mind. With our relationship with time and family changing fast, money is replacing joy. “There are several measures of counting richness, money is just one of them. If our life is not enriched, then we are poor. Greed is a malaise and there is just a thin line between need and greed. What we need in classrooms is a dialogue on dignity of labour, where no one is superior or inferior and creative pursuits can bridge many gaps. We, as educators, need to help youngsters know their abilities, focus on skill development and performing skills and most importantly understand themselves. We are converting everything to business and that’s a sure way to ruin something,” shares Agashe, ruing the fact that both the rate of suicides and depression is on an alarming rise.
Agashe’s new play, Right-Angled Triangle looks at how we provide our elders with provisions but do not give quality time to them. He says, “We do not share or listen, and have less human contact. So loneliness is leading to many issues of the mind.” Astu (So Be It), in which Agashe is the lead actor and co-producer, deals with the topic of ageing and dementia, with Agashe putting “his life’s savings” in taking the film to larger audiences in hospitals, colleges, schools and festivals. Directed by Sumitra Bhave, the film won two National Awards, with Agashe relentlessly working towards its publicity. “You need nutritious information and film is a medium that goes into your subconscious mind. We need films and theatre, which address issues that surround us and can create bridges,” says the actor, who has also produced Kaasav-Turtle, directed by Bhave, which deals with the theme of depression.