Jaishankar Bhojak

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Jaishankar Bhojak 'Sundari'
Mama Warerkar-CG Kolhatkar-Jaishankar Sundari-1957.jpg
Jaishankar 'Sundari' (right) in conversation with Mama Warerkar (left) and C. G. Kolhatkar (centre) at the presentation of Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards in New Delhi on 31 March 1957
Born Jaishankar Bhudhardas Bhojak
(1889-01-30)30 January 1889
Undhai near Visnagar, Gujarat
Died 22 January 1975(1975-01-22)
Other names Jaishankar 'Sundari'
Occupation theatre actor and director
Years active 1897 – 1932 (acting), 1948 – 1962 (direction)

Jaishankar Bhudhardas Bhojak, (30 January 1889 – 22 January 1975) better known by his theatre name Jaishankar 'Sundari' , is an Indian actor and director of Gujarati theatre.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Bhojak clan of Brahmin[1][2] family, in Undhai near Visnagar on 30 January 1889. However, his family members were traditionally involved in performing arts and singing. He studied up to second standard. He was trained in performing arts and singing by his grandfather, Tribhuvandas who himself was trained by Ustad Fakhruddin. He was also trained in music by Vadilal Nayak.[3][4]


He started his career by joining Dadabhai Thuthi's Urdu performing art company in Calcutta in 1897. Later he joined Chotalal Kapadia's Mumbai Gujarati Natak Mandali in 1901. Along with Gujarati, he also performed in Hindi and Urdu languages. He mainly performed as a female impersonator as females were not allowed in theatres in those times.[3][4]

He played role of Desdemona as a female impersonator in Saubhagya Sundari, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello by Parsi theatre in Bombay. It was successful and Jaishankar was nicknamed Sundari.[5] He also performed as a female lead opposite Bapulal Nayak several times. He along with Bapulal brought Govardhanram Tripathi's Saraswatichandra, plays of Nrisinh Vibhakar and Mulshankar Mulani. He retired in 1932 and returned to Visnagar.[3][4]

He was active in Ahmedabad from 1948 to 1962 as a director in theatre. Later he organised a performing troupe and theatre school, Natamandal with Rasiklal Parikh and Ganesh Mavlankar. He revived Bhavai, the traditional performing art form, by directing Mithyabhiman, a satirical play by Dalpatram. They produced several plays like Mena Gujri in 1953 which synthesised Bhavai and Beijing Opera.[3][4]

He died on 22 January 1975 at Visnagar, Gujarat.[3][4]


He was received the Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak in 1951. He was felicitated by Gujarat Rajya Sangeet Nrutya Akademi in 1967. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for drama direction in 1957.[6] He also received the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award in India in 1971.[3][4]


His autobiography Thoda Aansu, Thoda Phool was in part written and in part dictated to his son Dinkar Bhojak by him and was published in 1976. Later it was translated into English as Some Blossoms, Some Tears.[7][8]

The play Sundari : An Actor Prepares based on his autobiography was produced in 1998.[8]


  1. ^ The People of India By Herbert Risley, William Crooke. p. 457. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  2. ^ The Tribes and Castes of Bombay, Volume 1 By Reginald E. Enthoven. p. 219-220. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Jaishankar 'Sundari'". Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (in Gujarati). Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lal, Ananda (2004). The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195644463. 
  5. ^ Poonam Trivedi, Dennis Bartholomeusz (2005). India's Shakespeare: Translation, Interpretation, and Performance. Pearson Education India. p. 50. ISBN 9788177581317. 
  6. ^ "Sangeet Natak Akademi award". Sangeet Natak Akademi. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Kapoor, Anuradha (6 November 2011). "Translation as cultural mediation". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Ray, Bharati (2009). Women of India: Colonial and Post-colonial Periods/Part 3 of History of science, philosophy, and culture in Indian civilization: Colonial period. SAGE Publications India. pp. 492, 500. ISBN 9788132102649. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bhojak Jaishankar, Bhojak Dinkar (1976). Thoda Aansu, Thoda Phool (in Gujarati). Ahmedabad: Shivji Asher, Vora & Co. 
  • Panchotia, B. B. Jayashankar Sundari and Abhinaykala. Bhavans Book University.