Poet, Playwright, Director, Composer
Gopal Sharman, is modern India’s maverick artist par excellence! 80 million watched his TV series, India Alive. On Broadway his epic play The Ramayana earned rave reviews. He composes his own music. His Akshara theatre is studied by architecture students. His political satires pack a deadly punch and his poetry reminded President Radhakrishnan of the Upanishads.
Gopal Sharman is the author of 14 plays, three books, writer-director of scores of television programmes, author of many articles and columns, and founder-director of New Delhi’s famous Akshara Theatre.
Born in Calcutta on August 19, 1935, Sharman completed his education in Lucknow University and started a career in journalism. His theatrical career was launched by Professor Radhakrishnan, President of India with a reading of Gopal’s poems and stories at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by his wife Jalabala. Shortly after the couple embarked on a tour that took them to Europe and international high praise from critics and audiences alike. This first production, Full Circle, was followed by an invitation from the Royal Shakespeare Company of Great Britain to bring a play to their World Theatre Season. The play in question was Sharman’s The Ramayana, a play in English in four acts that retold the epic story from a contemporary viewpoint, but without any loss of reverence, The Ramayana is Gopal Sharman’s masterpiece and has been presented the world over as a katha by Jalabala Vaidya in a one woman tour de force for more than 2000 performances, including on Broadway and the West End of London, the United Nations Headquarters in New York, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., at the National Theatres of several more countries and at 35 cities and towns in India. Critics have vied with each other to heap encomiums of this work.
Gopal Sharman has also created an exquisite arts complex in an old Lutyen’s bungalow in New Delhi called the Akshara National Classical Theatre, built and designed by himself, and embellished by his own stone carvings. This complex houses three theatres, television production studios and a gallery. Here the couple work and live.
Gopal’s plays include Full Circle, Larflarflarf, The Ramayana, Let’s Laugh Again, India Alive, Karma, Jeevan Geet, The Bhagavad Gita, In Goethe’s Magical World, I, Galileo Galilei, Alice& Humpty Dumpty, This and That, etc. His television work has been viewed by millions of Indians and includes the 31-part series India Alive two and a half hour documentary The Kashmir Story, the 6-part Sufi Way, the 8-part Music Alive, My Life Is My Song, his musical documentary, and the five-part Kathanjali based in his own stories as well as Tagore’s Gitanjali and The Kabuliwala.
Sharman has written four books: Filigree in Sound on Indian music, published by Andre Deutsch of London; The Ramayana, the epic as a play in English, published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan; Don’t Miss It, the story of the Akshara Theatre’s beginnings, published by the Akshara Press; and Karma, an Upanishadic musical also published by the Akshara Press.
He has been awarded the Homi Bhabha Fellowship Award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Tagore Award, the Delhi Natya Sangh Award, The Andhra Pradesh Natya Akademi Honour. He was also conferred Honorary Citizenship of the City of Baltimore, USA.