Shri. Atmaram Bhende, fondly referred to as Bapu, was born on May 7th, 1923.
He completed his Engineering in L. T. M. from V.J.T.I. in 1945. Shri Bhende
worked as an Engineer and in executive positions in several reputed organizations
such as Volkart Brothers, textile commissioner's office etc. Retired in May
1981 from Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, after working as a senior executive for
Shri Bhende has been active on the Marathi stage in the capacity of Director,
Actor, and Producer for the last sixty years and is well known for his versatility.
He has so far directed and produced more than seventy plays, including several
children's play. He has the distinction of over one hundred shows and at least
two plays directed by him running for more than five hundred shows. Bhende's
major contributions to the theatre in Maharashtra are as follows:
In the 1940s and the early 1950s, when the Marathi theatre was considered
to be 'dying', Bhende tried to attempt to inject new life into it by his
experimental plays. He is therefore considered to be a pioneer of the Experimental
Bhende was the pioneer in introducing the " farce" on the Marathi stage
in 1958, along with his associate the Late Shri Baban Prabhu. He is therefore
considered to be the Father of Marathi Farce.
Bhende is the first to make use of the revolving stage on the Marathi
stage in 1962.
Bhende is the first Marathi stage artist of repute to work in the English
theatre and establish himself as a popular actor speaking Indian English.
Bhende was the Joint-Secretary of the Marathi Natya Parishad , the representative
body of the Marathi theatre, during 1954-60 and was responsible for setting
up and organizing the Bombay Branch of the Marathi Natya Parishad. In this
capacity, he was actively associated with the successful efforts made by
the Parishad to have the entertainment tax on drama performances abolished.
Radio, Television and Films:
Bhende is a regular participant in radio plays for the past 55 years. He
has also produced several radio plays and documentaries for the Bombay station
of All India radio. Bhende is a popular television artiste. He has acted in
several Marathi television plays and in important Hindi T. V. serials like "Yatra"
and "Chunouti". He directed a T. V. film entitled "Sparsha" in the serial "Ek
Kahani" and many others. His latest contribution was the Marathi serial "Awhan"
which helped to create social consciousness about the evils of dowry and the
role that society can play in stamping it out. He directed this serial and also
played a major role in it. He also directed serial 'Ratrani" based on story
by the welknown Marathi writer Shri G. A. Kulkarni. Bhende has so far acted
in eighteen Marathi films, one Hindi film, several documentaries, educational
films and adfilms.
Bhende has written a Marathi play and has translated two plays of Thornton
Wilder, Viz. 'Our Town' and the 'Matchmaker', into Marathi, both of which were
published. He has also written several children's plays for radio, which have
been published in book form. He also writes articles on Theatre in journals
Organization of Cultural Activities:
As the Secretary of the Marathi Section of the Indian National Theatre since
its inception in 1945, Bhende shouldered the responsibility of organizing several
cultural activities in addition to directing and producing most of the Marathi
plays staged by the Indian National Theatre. He also organized the Inter-Collegiate
Full length Drama competitions and Kavi-Sammellans organized by INT. He was
also responsible for organizing the first Folk- Drama festival organized by
INT and in that connection toured the whole of Maharashtra to study the various
forms of the folk theatre in Maharashtra. At present, he has his own theatre
In 1962, Bhende visited the U.K. and U.S.A. and several other countries in
Europe and Far East. In the U.S.A. he had the opportunity to study the theatre
movement very closely. He was associated with the "Actor's Workshop" in San
Francisco and studied the production of one play right from the first rehearsal
to the first show. He also studied the drama courses conducted at the University
of California, Berkeley, He mode a special study of the Educational television
in the U.S.A. In Japan, he studied the Kabuki theatre. In 1962, he visited Calcutta
for the study of Bengali theatre during the Rabindranath Tagore Centenary Year
under a special scheme of the Government.
Achievement Award" - Alpha Gaurav Puraskar 2003(Alpha Marathi)
Awards, Honors, etc.:
Appointed Justice of the Peace in 1972 by the Government pf Maharashtra
and continued as a special Executive Magistrate till 1980.
Won the " Natyadarpan Award" for the Best Comedian in 1976.
In 1980, was given a Special Award for long and meritorious service in
the cause of the Marathi theatre by "Natyadarpan".
Was unanimously elected President of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya
Parishad in January 1981 in appreciation of the services rendered to the
Was awarded the Shankar Ghanekar Award for contributions to Marathi theatre
as a comedian by the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Parishad in 1983
Was honored by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay in 1989 for
meritorious service to Marathi theatre as Actor and Director.
Was the recipient of the "Vishnudas Bhave Awards" for his long and meritorious
service to the Marathi theatre as an Actor, instituted by the Akhil Maharashtra
Marathi Natya Vidyamandir in 1989
Was given a Special Awards for 'Outstanding contribution to the theatre
instituted for the first time by "Bristol" and was presented during the
Natyadarpan Rajani in 1991
In 1991 was awarded "The Shrimant Yuvraj Chatrapati Maharaj ,Kolhapur
award as a senior actor of outstanding merit by Akhil Bharatiya Marathi
On 25th August 1993 was awarded the Best Prose actor 1992 Award by "
Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh.
On 7th March was felicitated by the "Atmaram Bhende Felicitation committee"
for Directing fifty noteworthy Plays
On 19th February 1994 was felicitated by Gomantak Marathi Academy, Kala
Academy ( Goa )and Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh for rendering meritorial
service to the Marathi theatre, during the festival organized to celebrate
150 years of the Maratht theatre at Panjim, Goa .
On 14/06/95 Gopinath Savarkar Puraskar - Atmaram Bhende Marathi Natya
On 08/01/95 Kalagaurav Pratishtan ( Pune ) Puraskar for long service
Lokagaurav Puraskar from ( Chembur Varta )on 07/08/94
On 6th May 1995 Natya Bhushan Puraskar given in memory of the well known
Dramatist Acharya Atre by his daughter Shirish Pai and Meemna Deshpande
in NatyaDarpan rajani.
On 25th Sept 1997 awarded Chintamanrao Kolhatkar Pursakar by All India
Marathi Natya Parishad sponsored by the Government of Maharashtra for Acting.
On 24/07/1996 awarded Natasamrat Nanasaheb Phatak Puraskar.
Awarded "Life Time Achievement Award" by Alpha Gavrav Puraskar
(Alpha Marathi) Feb-2003.
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