Three Jalaram Mandir presented the hit Gujarati play ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Our Beloved Iron Man’ on May 26, at The Hemmens Cultural Center, Elgin, IL.
Despite of the bad weather and long weekend, the show attracted 450 plus audience members. The event was inaugurated with Deep Pragatya ceremony by Mr. and Mrs. Nakul Singh Chand (Air-India Manager, Mid-west), followed by US and India’s national anthem, opening remark by the master of ceremonies for the evening, Vipul Thakkar, and vote of thanks by Chairman Chirayu Parikh. Smita Gandhi of Siddhi Events brought the play to the US.
The play was in Gujarati, Hindi and English. It is written and directed by Dr. Vikram Panchal and Shaunak Vyas. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was one of the most important leaders to emerge out of the Indian freedom struggle. Born in the last quarter of the 19th century, he started legal practice in the early twentieth century. He was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi to join the freedom struggle in 1917. Soon, he became one of the three most prominent leaders, along with Gandhi and Nehru.
The play begins when Sardar was practicing law in Ahmedabad, and was singularly disinterested in any kind of public work. He meets Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat Club and gets inspired by him to work for people. His struggle with Jinnah, British Raj and a key role in the integration of the princely states, is also shown in the play.
The play has been presented over 30 times all over India and was also viewed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In India, this show was acted on stage by over 30 actors/artists and supporters, and had technician specialists providing sound effects, background music, tunes, and lighting.
In the US, the entire recital was performed by only eight actors. Each artist performed additional chores by performing at least four additional roles. These artists also managed other behind the stage tasks, such as multiple sets changes.
Here are the key actors in the play:
Shaunak Vyas: Played pivotal key role of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He is also a writer, director of Sardar Patel play and founder of Vikram Academy of Performing Arts.
Dr. Rekha Mukherjee: Sarojini Naidu, Doshi Maa and Mrs. Vevel. She is a Dept. head at Gujarat University, gifted writer, costume designer and a mentor at Vikram Academy of Performing Arts.
Pranay Mehta: Played roles of various British Subjects like Wilson, Vevel and Lord Mountbatten.
Jay Mehta: Gandhiji, Mr. Menon, Maharaja of Bhavnagar and Behcher bhai. His significant research on the subject has helped develop the play and handles visuals.
Tapan Jani: Jawaharlal Nehru and Dayalji. He also handled props/production.
Parth Raval: Jinnah, Rizvi, Pathan and a Sikh. He also coordinated on stage lighting effects.
Shivani Bhagat: Maniben, wife of Bhavanbhai and General Chaudhary. Shivani has attained the best actress award in past during nationwide ITN drama competition.
Jash: Maulana Azad, Bhavanbhai, Raja Hanumant Singh, Shankar and Muslim Biradar.
In April 2018, two other plays based on biographies will be staged:
Life story of Swami Vivekananda who made his mark during world religious gathering in Chicago over 100 year ago.
Life story of Aruna Singh who was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest on just one leg at the age of 19 years.