Famous playwright, director, actor and translator Ramesh Mehta who significantly influenced Hindustani drama expired on May 29, 2012. He was 88. Some of his works included India Today (1949), Dahej (1950), Dastoori-Damad (1950), Faisla (1951), Apradhi Kaun (1952), Zamana (1952), Hamara Gaon (1954), Uljhan (1955), Dhong (1956), Under Secretary (1958), Dhai Akhar Prem ka (1959), Roti aur Beti (1960), Bade Aadmi (1966) and Khuli Baat (1969). Most of his plays were satires on Indian society that was trying to rediscover itself after independence.
Born on August 7, 1923 in Jhang Maghiayana (now in Pakistan), Ramesh Mehta’s interest in theatre began during his stay at Dayal Singh College, Lahore but it was only when he came to Delhi and joined Three Arts Club, an amateur theatre group, that he could pursue his interest passionately. He was one of the very few theatre personalities who excelled in performing as writer, actor and director. His plays were regarded as landmarks in Hindi theatre and were translated into several languages such as Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam etc. Ramesh Mehta’s plays were performed at the Prime Minister’s House, in front of the Indian Armed Forces, at All India Radio and Doordarshan.
Ramesh Mehta was instrumental in developing theatre as an art form in Delhi. He helped in forming theatre clubs in many government departments, industrial houses and various establishments in the capital city. His contributions to the meteoric rise of Three Arts Club cannot be understated. It was due to his exemplary skills that the club could perform more than 1200 shows of 27 plays over a 40 year period, sustaining itself only on audience support. After the untimely death of general secretary R.M. Kaul in 1983, Ramesh Mehta, in an act that symbolises the benevolent character of the great man, wrapped up the activities of the theatre group and donated the club’s earnings to Rajiv Gandhi Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
Recipient of Chamanlal Memorial Award for lifetime achievement, Sahitya Kala Parishad, Delhi Award, Delhi Natya Sangh Award, Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Sangeet Natak Akadeni Award, Ramesh Mehta fundamentally changed the perception of theatre in Delhi and will be sorely missed. He is survived by his two daughters and daughter-in-law.