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(12 August, 1936- 9 April, 2023)
Actress, Writer, Director
Sumati Gangopadhyay writing for the Indian Express, Baroda, said:
“Watching Jalabala’s impassioned enactment of Gopal’s script has been the experience of a lifetime. Indeed, this is more than a stage show. It falls into the category of a revelatory experience. Strangely, mystically this Ramayana suddenly brings you to a moment of truth—and you are left stunned. No one with any interest in the arts, or even his or her own salvation, can afford to miss this play.”
In recent times, Jalabala has presented another version of The Ramayana, where she continues to perform the opening and closing Acts of the play, supported by a brilliant group of young actors painstakingly trained by her, to perform the rest of the play.
Ms. Vaidya was born in London, daughter of a half English-half Italian mother, Marjorie Frank-Keyes, a concert singer, and Suresh Vaidya, Indian journalist, author and freedom fighter. Her first international theatrical success came in Rome at the Teatro Goldoni where she performed Full Circle written by Gopal Sharman. Ms. Vaidya soon embarked on a series of tremendously successful theatrical seasons on London’s West End, and performance tours all over Europe. The British Parliamentarian and columnist for The Sunday Times, Tom Driberg, said of her: “She performs exquisitely.” The critic of The Times was equally ecstatic, saying: “She made me think of Isadora Duncan.”
Jalabala and her husband Gopal Sharman are co-founders of the Akshara National Classical Theatre in New Delhi, an exquisite arts complex designed and built by Sharman, where she has played the lead role in more than 20 plays, including Full Circle, Larflarflarf, The Ramayana, Let’s Laugh Again, India, Alive, Karma, The Bhagavad Gita, In Goethe’s Magical World, I, Galileo Galilei, The Kabuliwala, Gitanjali, The Strange Case of Billy Biswas, Tyger Tyger, etc.
Jalabala Vaidya also produces, performs in and narrates most of her husband’s highly acclaimed television films, such as India Alive, The Kashmir Story, The Sufi Way, etc
She is the author of three books: Be, This Is Full and That Is Full.
Jalabala Vaidya has been awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Tagore Award, the Delhi Natya Sangh Award, the Andhra Pradesh Natya Akademi Honour, etc. She was also conferred Honorary Citizenship of the City of Baltimore, USA
Jalabala Vaidya, one of India’s leading stage actresses, is best known for her one-woman performance of The Ramayana which is her husband, Gopal Sharman’s contemporary dramatic interpretation of the great Sanskrit epic. This Ramayana, subtitled ‘the epic; as a play in English’ is the only Indian production till today to have played on Broadway where the New York Times called it ‘India’s Gift to Broadway’.
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