How BJP is killing B.V. Karanth’s Rangayana

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VISHWAS KRISHNA writes: If you are in Mysore, or closely following the developments of Mysore, it is unlikely you would have missed the issue of the theatre repertory Rangayana. The organization which should have been concentrating on creative pursuits is now embroiled in a maze of bureaucratic problems.

Nataka Karnataka Rangayana, to give its full name, is a state government-funded repertory started under the tutelage of the theatre maestro, B.V. Karanth, almost 25 years ago. Most of the initial years were spent in training artistes in the production and enactment of plays. Public shows started only after a few years.

It took enormous effort, mainly by Karanth and later on by others, to build the team and for Rangayana to attain the reputation it now enjoys.

It was when Prasanna became the director that Rangayana started the practice of weekend shows. And that practice is in place till date. If you visit Rangayana on a Sunday, you can be rest assured of a play being performed at 6.30 pm (usually by Rangayana or by other teams when they are on a tour).

Being in Mysore, we get to watch other amateur team’s productions too. And as part of theatre festivals like Bahuroopi (organised by Rangayana) we get to watch performances by some of the most renowned theatre groups across the country.

But, having watched the productions of Rangayana, it is difficult to be easily impressed by any other performance. That is the standard which Rangayana has created and we Mysoreans are lucky to have such a repertory here.

After watching so many plays and shows of Rangayana repertory, unknown to them, we, the audience, have developed a kind of rapport with the actors and the team.

But now, the government, on the idiotic advice of Ranga Samaja, wants to split the team and transfer the artists and artistes, whom we have watched all these years as part of Rangayana. The issue of transfer started during the controversial tenure of B.Jayashree in 2009-10.

But fortunately for Rangayana and also for Mysore, her tenure did not last long and after her departure from here, the issue was buried, temporarily it turns out.

Now with the establishment of two more Rangayanas, one at Dharwad and another at Shimoga, the government wants to use the services of experienced actors here. The transfer of 12 actors of Rangayana to the other two branches is with the idea of facilitating the newly established Rangayanas to get proper training.

Imagine: artists, artistes, actors in a transferable job!

This is a very foolish step from the governing body, supported by the Government. It is very difficult to believe that the governing body is acting without any mala fide intention, but even if one gives them the benefit of doubt, one fails to see the logic behind this act.

Ranga Samaja is being lazy in not trying to search for new actors and instead trying to depute the actors here at Rangayana as trainers at the new branches. These people are trained to be actors and not trainers.

Moreover, the team which has been producing plays since 25 years would have developed a comfort zone with each other and it reflects in their plays too.

We Mysoreans are used to watching the plays of the same team since so many years and now, all of a sudden, if 12 actors of the team are sent away, who will act in the productions of Rangayana? Not to be disrespectful to the others, but the 12 actors who are transferred are among the best actors of the team, at least for me, personally.

If they are not part of the team, there is no way I or many other regular Rangayana audiences would watch the plays. It also means that the repeat shows of the old productions, of which, these 12 actors are part of would not be performed or would be performed by the new actors who are not as experienced as the present team.

There is no way the quality of the productions will remain the same. The highest standards of acting which we have come to expect from Rangayana would be lost forever.

Ranga Samaja and also, the government, have to remember that Rangayana Mysore was started with 25 fresh faces. It is difficult to guess as to what is stopping them from doing the same at the other two newly established Rangayanas.

The actors are now fighting for cancellation of the transfer order and exploring many ways to solve this problem. And the director of Rangayana, B.V. Rajaram, who also supported the actors in their protest against the transfer order, was immediately sacked.

Curiously, the director was not taken into confidence before the transfer orders were issued to the actors. The incident only shows the dictatorial attitude of the outgoing BJP government towards one of the most prominent cultural institutions of Karnataka.

This is something the actors of Rangayana should have realised long back, but at least now, hopefully, after this issue gets solved, they should realise that the more quicker they come out of the clutches of Ranga Samaja and the bureaucracy, the better it is.

We, the audience, do not know who are the members of the governing body and how are they elected and for how long they remain elected. But we are now aware that such a thing exists and we want the old Rangayana back, free of its clutches from the unknown and faceless Ranga Samaja and the non-empathetic bureaucracy.

Photograph: courtesy B.S. Bhooshan

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If Infosys cares about Kannada and culture

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20 Responses to “How BJP is killing B.V. Karanth’s Rangayana”

  1. madhu Says:

    isn’t this self centric thought?

  2. Deepak Says:

    I don’t understand why BJP is being dragged into this? Is there any proof that the BJP is opposed to Rangayana? If the author has the proof, he must provide it to back his statement, else he should keep his mouth shut.

  3. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    BTW, BV Rajaram’s appointment as the director was opposed as he was perceived close to RSS(through its Publication arm Rastrotthana Parsihat), now he is put at the other extreme end of the spectrum.

  4. Karmasfinger Says:

    Whose interest is being served in protesting against the transfer?
    Facts being scarce, given the intentions of the government or the governing body as per this article, I honestly don’t see anything wrong in accomplished artists doing their bit to keep the crop of their kind well trained and in good numbers.

    It is only fair when the government has contributed, -no doubt only financially, in training them to expect a return for a similar cultural cause. There can be all kinds of arguments about more investment, resources, better planning in the past etc.

    Artists, artistes and actors definitely are transferable. In fact, the more they disperse and travel the better. If the Rangayana cast have a nice cosy set-up… Tough.

  5. suda Says:

    It makes perfect sense to transfer these senior artists to new centers to train the junior artists at those new centers. These senior actors want to lead a easy life at public money and are not willing to make the least of sacrifices. If they are so good, why not seek employment else or form their own professional troupe and entertain the crowd? I am surprised you are supporting these crybabies.

  6. Sanjay Rao Says:

    I still see the same artists recruited by B.V. Karanth in the troupe. Every team look for a mix of new and experienced team. Some of the members left Rangayana and joined movies and TV serials. Others are too comfortable in their nest. Don’t you think it is time to either force some people out or to move to other branches and get some fresh blood? That seems to the be obvious thought. Not sure what I am missing?

  7. Doddi Buddi Says:

    The headline is simply sensational and probably motivated by the pain caused due to transfers. May be it can be handled better by offering the expert actors/players extra money for their training skills at the newly established Rangayanas. They need not be transferred for a long time but used for workshops on a regular basis.

    BTW I did not see sensational acting skills by these resident artists in Mysore. Thanks.

  8. Vinay H V Says:

    It is always good to spread the knowledge and create talent if possible…

  9. Vishwas Krishna Says:

    @Karmasfinger this is the first transfer since the establishment of Rangayana 25 years ago. These artists were the ones who built the Rangayana, literally (yes, literally).These are trained actors, not teachers. BTW, most of the resource persons, who trained these artists are still active in theatre.
    Rangayana is a repertory, a permanent theatre. A permanent theatre cannot survive without majority of the actors. It is the Mysoreans and more particularly, theatre lovers of Mysore, whose interest is being served.

    These artists have produced hundreds of good plays and unless they are present here and perform them, those plays will be lost forever. Replacing one actor in a play itself is a difficult task, imagine replacing established & set, twelve actors.

    do you know what was the purpose of establishing Rangayna? It is the only active repertory in the whole country, why would you want to destroy it?
    Moreover, these artists are not against the transfer per se, but against the ad hoc manner of transferring 12 out of total 18 actors.
    Ever seen a scenario where more than 65% of staff being transferred en mass, that too after nearly 25 years of service? Do you think Rangayana can run with just 6 permanent actors?

    @Sanjay Rao
    we Mysoreans should forever be grateful to these artists for not having left theatre, the purpose for which the government invested a lot in them. If you have to point fingers at anyone, then point at those who left Rangayana after enjoying the benefits of theatre. These artists can easily command more money elsewhere, the kind of salaries which the govt is giving is below average. But it is for the love of theatre that they are still working for Rangayana repertory.
    Agree, new faces should be brought in. But it is surely not the artists job & they are not against that idea either.

  10. Vindy Says:

    just a Question as I dont know abt the workings of Rangayana…are these actors who have been transferred paid govt employees ?

  11. Vishwas Krishna Says:


    No, they are not government employees. Their salaries are paid out of the annual grants received from the Government.

    Moreover, once they retire, they will not be getting any pension either.

  12. yeshwant Says:

    A teacher trains a student and later a student becomes a teacher to train other student! This is what I have learnt in the past 30 years.

    Keeping this in mind, when few artists from Rangayana have caliber to lead a team (Groups in different name) and direct them for other plays, why can’t they train others who want to learn about acting in different location?

    Is there any rule that a senior person, who is well qualified to teach/train others should restrict him/her in one location?

    And I am confused to see why BJP is killing Rangayana…

  13. Nastika Says:

    That is a great question. Probably will settle the argument.

    BTW, why is the Govt obliged to provide great entertainment on a Sunday evening to folks at Mysore?


  14. Anitha Says:

    @Vishwas Krishna…

    Pray tell me, is it not the duty of a repertory to create new artistes?? If all that it is doing is to take help of some 12 artists over a period of 25 years, to enact some plays, why do we need it???? Hasn’t the government spending money on maintaining this theater group?? If yes, then as its pay master, it is the prerogative of the govt to decide where and when it should deploy its resources, right???

    Why should it be the sole right of Mysoreans to enjoy the plays of Rangayana at the cost of Shivamogga or Dharawada?

    You say Ranga Samaja has been lazy in not producing new artists and instead is trying to rely on these 12 artists to promote new talent. Look inwards buddy, if Rangayana, with its long history has only 12 actors on whom it can depend to perform plays, who is being lazy here???

    You are seeing a mala fide intention here. What is that? Care to explain? In a school, the best teachers are deputed to teach those students who need extra attention. Same way, may be the best actors are now deputed to teach a set of new actors the art of acting. Actually, Ranga Samaja is not lazy. It is doing a great service to create new artists. Yes, in the short term, you may be inconvenienced at Mysore. But rest assured, there are a whole lot of people in Dharawada and Shivamogga who will welcome such a move!

    Comfort zone? What comfort zone? In my son’s school, every year the students are put in different sections and the logic behind this is they should try and make new friends, face difficult people and still come up. In the process the valuable friendships they would have built in their growing years gets disrupted. When they can survive this trauma, why can’t these artists??? And you are talkng of comfort zone???My foot, the only comfort zone they have found is in creating an artificial wall around themselves in the smug belief that no one can touch them.

    In one of my comments in Churumuri earlier, I had written why the left illiberals are scared of NaMo. You have just displayed what I wrote.

    And how and in what way BJP comes into picture here? Duh

  15. Vishwas Krishna Says:

    “Pray tell me, is it not the duty of a repertory to create new artistes”
    “…Same way, may be the best actors are now deputed to teach a set of new actors the art of acting”
    “…In my son’s school…”

    Sorry, you are mistaken, it is not their duty according to Rangayana’s charter, but their duty is to act as a team. When Government made their jobs permanent (but not as Govt employees) , they were retained as actors (who would be paid salaries out of grants, which by the way is paltry sums) and not as a school. It is not a school, but a repertory, which is resident company, promoted by Government.

    And when they were made permanent, govt also agreed to a condition that they would be retained as a team. Isn’t splitting the team against Government’s own promise?

    “it is the prerogative of the govt to decide where and when it should deploy its resources
    I suggest you read this interview of Dattanna, hope it answers your question

    “If Rangayana, with its long history has only 12 actors on whom it can depend to perform plays, who is being lazy here???”
    “..You are seeing a mala fide intention here. What is that?”

    Incorrect, Rangayana has 18 actors, out of which 12 are being shifted. And all of them are important for any play to succeed.

    Thanks for pointing it out, the reason for the above flaw is that Ranga Samaja is yet to chalk out a strategy for insertion of fresh faces to Mysore Rangayana. Once the present 18 retire, Mysore Rangayana will die automatically. And if there is anyone to blame for it, it is the Ranga Samaja. It is not the actor’s job to bring or nurture replacements for them, but the management’s.

    By purposefully transferring 12 out of 18 artists they want to stop productions here. Only active repertory in the country will also cease to perform.

    ” It is doing a great service to create new artists”
    How can those, who are still continuing in the Ranga Samaja as members, ever after the expiry of their term, do any service, let alone great service, to anyone? Great service would have been chalking out a replacement/recruitment strategy at Mysore Rangayana, at which they miserably failed.

    It would do well to Rangayanas of Shivamogga and Dharawada, to come out of the clutches of this Ranga Samaja, which could not think of inducing fresh faces to Mysore Rangayana, all these years. Unfortunately, even now, Ranga Samaja has no clue as to what is to be done here in Mysore. Their agenda, right now, seems to be transfer 12 and then we shall see what needs to be done with the remaining 6, forget about new faces.

    And to clarify again, Rangayana artists are very much ready to go Shivamogga and Dharawada every now and then to produce plays or help them do so. Their plea right now is not to split the team.

  16. madhu Says:

    just because you are a mysorean and you get a chance to watch plays over the weekend, simply you can’t argue for the point that has no base… This article is written with no heart and mind.

    If govt grants money and any other facility, it has right to ask for service in need.

    I see it as a govt act rather than a political party agenda… it looks ugly to see that political controversy is brought in to make some point.

    If anyone has the problem with transfer, politely decline it and the grant share as well.

    Any person would do some contribution to the organisation he/she is working for since its her/his duty to do so after getting paid. In this case, artists must have done more than that to improve rangayana, but did they do this to make the govt feel better? i don’t think so, its their love and obsession to their passion that led them to do so.

    In Every Dasara, govt brings in so many street(not so street, its actually a culture that we all appreciate) artists from north karnataka to perform in the procession at cheap rate. They aren’t treated as good as the artists of rangayana i guess. You never raise voice then? Or do you hear anyone crying from those places saying BJP/CONGRESS or some X party is taking their entertainment and art to mysore ?

  17. RANGA Says:

    All your artist wants to enjoy every government benefit when they are not considered the government employees,when they have been appointed as government employee they should get ready for transfer too as every government employees fallows the order of government,You and culture mafia artist wants to show their talent only in Mysore. Please explain

  18. Vishwas Krishna Says:

    @RANGA you are mistaken, they are not government employees and they don’t even get the government benefits like pension. What they get from government is the annual grants, out of which their meagre salaries are paid.

  19. suda Says:

    You paint a picture that says without these 18 artists, rangayana is sure to die. If what you say is true, No one can live eternally, so one day rangayana will cease to exist.

    Can you please explain to us as to why doesn’t the entire 18 members walk out of Rangayana and produce plays and charge people like the old Gubbi Veeranna and others? If they are providing good entertainment, do you think the art lovers of mysore are not generous enough to support a drama company? This way they can come out of the clutches of political interference and continue to produce good plays just like they have done for the last 25 years.

    There will be a set back for Rangayana in the short term, but the show will go on as long as there is someone funding it.

  20. Anitha Says:

    @ Vishwas,

    I can understand your hurt feelings at being deprived of your weekly ration of entertainment at someone else’ cost! And when your quota pleasure is under threat, you, like all fiberals point finger at BJP, accusing them of some hidden ulterior motive.

    But you don’t have to hang your head in shame. You have a huge company in this. The entire spectrum of left fiberals, who have become fat cats under the patronage of Congress, have always wailed at any change like this. Infact I foresee their wailing reaching a feverish pitch post 2014 when many of their activities will be curbed.

    I have a doubt though, did you always point finger at BJP for this Rangayana issue or was it inserted later at someone else’ behest???

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