BANGALORE: Ka Vem Rajagopala, the Kannada theatre director who passed away early Tuesday morning, is remembered as an inspiration by many. He was 93.
A Kannada teacher by profession, Ka Vem encouraged students where he taught-- MES College, Bangalore High School, Bangalore University,-- to embrace theatre.
His ideology was Leftist. “He was also the first to get Prasanna (the driving force behind the Samudaya theatre movement) on to the proscenium at Central College. He and many others, and they all remember him with fondness even now,” says J Sreenivasa Murthy, Sanskrit lecturer at MES College.
It was at the college as an honours student that he first met Rajagopala, and began to assist him backstage.
According to Murthy, although Ka Vem was better known as a playwright during his later years, it was at stage direction that he excelled.
“Before all this technological advancement, after every show, he’d ask theatre activist Kapanna about how he managed the lighting. He paid great attention to detail,” he adds.
As a teacher, Murthy adds, he taught students to question. “G P Rajarathnam would take moral science classes, and Ka Vem would say to us, you can’t simply listen, you have to raise questions. We would, and Rajarathnam would give us answers.”
“He was completely dedicated to the art. True, he was a poet and has done a lot for the folk forms, but his life was dedicated to theatre,” theatre critic Vijayamma recalls.
Shashidhara Bharighat, who has been associated with Samudaya since the 1980s, has directed Ka Vem’s plays, including Kalyaanada Koneya Dinagalu. “He’d come for rehearsals and participate, and even to the show and give feedback.”
Bharighat admires how even past the 90-year-mark, he would make it to every Rangayana festival and other theatre performances.
“This, at a time when everyone complains that commuting is not easy. He’d just take a bus and be at the venue, blending in with the rest of the audience,” Bharighat says.