Mahesh Elkunchwar

Nine years ago, the META Lifetime Achievement Award was instituted to acknowledge the dedication, energy, and hard work that leading theatre-practitioners in India have put into the field. Their unstinted efforts have contributed significantly to the growth and development of theatre as an art form. Over the years, the META Lifetime Achievement Award has become a prestigious accolade to reward a vast body of theatrical work. Past awardees have included: the late Badal Sircar (2010), the late Zohra Sehgal (2011), the late Khaled Chaudhury (2012), Ebrahim Alkazi (2013), Girish Karnad (2014), the late Heisnam Kanhailal (2015), Ratan Thiyam (2016), Arun Kakade (2017) and Vijaya Mehta (2018).

The META 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award will be conferred on the renowned playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar.

Considered one of India's most progressive playwrights, Mahesh Elkunchwar is critically-acclaimed and widely-known for having experimented with a wide range of drama, from the realistic to the symbolic, the expressionist to the absurd. Hailing from Maharashtra’s Vidharba region, Mahesh has been a towering presence in modern Indian theatre for five decades. He began writing plays in the 1960s, encompassed a substantial body of work which includes screenplays, critical and theoretical writing, and became an integral part of the Parallel Cinema Movement. Regarded as an influential and powerful playwright in both Marathi and Indian theatre, his work has been at the forefront of the progressive movement led by ‘Rangayan’, which has included stalwarts such as Vijaya Mehta, Arvind and Sulabha Deshpande, playwright Vijay Tendulkar, and actor Shreeram Lagoo. His play, Wada Chirebandi, has been staged in Marathi, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam, and has even been filmed for television. The Wada Trilogy is globally renowned with a full German translation as well as a French one (of the first part) to its credit. Elkunchwar’s other famous works are Sonata which has been translated into English and Kannada, Sultan, Holi, Garbo, Yatanaghar and Atmakatha. Several of his plays have been translated and performed in English and Hindi as well. He is a recipient of the Homi Bhabha Fellowship (1976-78), the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for playwriting (1989), the Sahitya Akademi Award (2002), the Saraswati Samman (2002), the Brittingham Fellowship of the University of Wisconsin, U.S.A. (2005), the Janasthan Puraskar (2011) and the Sangeet Natak Fellowship (2013).

Mahesh studied at Morris College, Nagpur and went on to do an M.A. in English from Nagpur University. While still at college, he had a moment of epiphany when he watched, purely by chance, a production of veteran theatre director Vijaya Mehta's production of Vijay Tendulkar's Mee jinkalo mee Haralo (I Won, I Lost) and was hooked for life to the stage.