To Mee Navhech

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To Mee Navhech
Directed byVinayak Chaskar
Produced byPradeep Dalvi
Written byAcharya Atre
StarringPrabhakar Panshikar
Release date
1962
CountryIndia
LanguageMarathi

To Mee Navhech (Translated as: That's not me, (Marathi: तो मी नव्हेच)) is a classic Marathi play written by Acharya Atre based on the court case of Madhav Kazi, who was an active criminal in the year 1955-1960.[1] Though the protagonist role has been played by many actors since its inception in 1962, the role of Lakhoba Lokhande played by Prabhakar Panshikar is the most memorable. To Mee Navech is probably the first play in the world where the same actor has to do five completely different roles, not to merely add to novelty value or as a stunt, but because the story demands it.[2] To Mee Navhech was also among the first Marathi plays to make use of the Revolving Stage (फिरता रंगमंच) between two scenes. This is also translated in many regional languages. The play has crossed over 3000 shows in total over a span of 52 years which itself is a record.[3]

Background[edit]

A conman Lakhoba Lokhande is being prosecuted in the court of law for allegedly duping people, marrying women for money and essentially living multiple lives. He tries to defend his own self by asking uncomfortable questions to each witness during the cross-questioning. The entire play is set in a courtroom scene with a revolving set used for cut scenes and flashbacks.

Storyline[edit]

The storyline focuses on a con Lakhoba Lokhande, who claims he is a tobacco merchant from Nipani. The drama starts with a courtroom scene in which Lakhoba Lokhande is sitting in the defendant box. He has been accused by the prosecution of swindling different persons through disguise and fraud. The prosecution lawyer presents many witnesses, most of whom are the victims of Lakhoba's embezzlement (and in some cases torture). The witnesses narrate their experiences with the defendant through flashbacks. Lakhoba runs his own case after firing his lawyer. He cross questions the witnesses and during the process pleads his innocence by saying "To Mee Navhech".

Plot[edit]

The play starts with courtroom scene where the public prosecutor examines a witness in embezzlement case of a fraud who claims that that he is a tobacco merchant Lakhoba Lokhande from Napani village.

The first witness claims that Lakhoba Lokhande is his actually his brother Hyder who vanished from his home 12 years ago & has a wife Sultana & a kid. He tells the court that 10 years back he had submitted a bail bond of Rs. 20,000 for a case involving fraud, wherein Hyder posed as a secretary to the PM, to a simpleton clerk & took Rs. 15,000 on pretext of securing him a plum job in the secretariat. Hyder broke the bond & ran away, forcing his brother to sell his home & other personal belongings to pay the bond money he had borrowed from a money lender. Lakhoba decides to cross examine the witnesses himself instead of a lawyer. He shows the first witness his pierced ears, which is a Hindu ritual hence he cannot be his brother as Muslims don't follow this ritual. Lakhoba ends his cross-examination with his classic dialog "To Mee Navhech" (I am not that person) which he repeats after completing cross examination of each witness. He consistently holds his line of argument of mistaken identity.

Next witness is the money lender who had lent the money for the bail bond. The money lender is family friend of Hyder's family & identifies Lakhoba as Hyder. Lakhoba in his cross examination brings up lot of hidden facts like police case of fraud against him & his son & claims that he is lying in the court under duress. As usual he ends his argument with "To Mee Navhech"

Next witness is Nadkarni who was earlier defrauded in Delhi for Rs. 15,000 in anticipation of a plum job. Lakhoba in his cross examination first puts the witness under pressure that he had attempted to bribe a govt official which is also a crime. In the fear the witness goes back an forth in his statement, in the end gets entangled in the argument if he has committed crime by bribing a govt official, who in reality was a fraud.

Next witness is Sunanda Datar who identifies Lakhoba as Divakar Datar. Sunanda narrates that she first met Divakar at a marriage bureau where he posed as a sophisticated, London educated high ranking civil official at Bangalore. He speaks in a British accentuated English, giving impression that he is a very important official. He accepts the marriage proposal of Sunanda & demands dowry of Rs. 10,000 which her brother pays. The marriage is arranged is hurriedly arranged in couple of days time by Divakar & for that reason attended by only 10-15 close relatives of Sunanda & none from Divakar's side. Later he takes her to Bangalore & they stay in a cheap hotel, he usually stays away from her on pretext of important official work. He tells her that her brother Capt Ashok Paranjpe lives in Mangalore & he often meets her. She tells him that she is pregnant & Divakar blatantly refuses her claim saying that someone else is the father of her child. She somehow locates the hotel room where Capt Ashok Paranjpe is staying. She meets his wife & narrates her side of story, which doesn't match with his wife's story. Sunanda gets paranoid & at the same time Capt Ashok Paranjpe appears who is in fact Divakar in disguised form. Sunanda demands to meet Divakar right now, Capt Ashok someone composes himself & gets out on pretext of getting Divakar & returns back as Divakar. He makes

Characters played by Lead Role in the play[edit]

Character Picture
Lakhoba Lokhande: (लखोबा लोखंडे) A tobacco merchant from Nipani
Divakar Ganesh Datar: (दिवाकर दातार) A secret political officer of the Kingdom of Mysore
Dajishastri Datar: (दाजीशास्त्री दातार) Elder brother of Divakar Datar
Captain Ashok Paranjpe: (कॅ॰ अशोक परांजपे) A Navy officer and younger brother of Divakar Datar
Radheshyam Maharaj: (राधेश्याम महाराज) A saint

Lead role played by[edit]

  1. Prabhakar Panshikar
  2. Sumeet Raghavan
  3. Girish Oak
  4. Sanjay Mone
  5. Pushkar Shrotri

Other role played by[edit]

  1. Dattopant Angre
  2. Nanda Patkar
  3. Chadrachud Vasudev
  4. Bipin Talpade
  5. Vasudev Date
  6. Eran Joseph
  7. Purushottam Bal
  8. Kusum Kulkarni
  9. Saroj Naik
  10. Mandakini Bhadbhade
  11. Bholaram Athavale
  12. Shripad Joshi


Tone of Narrative[edit]

The general tone of the narrative of "To Mee Navhech" means is rather sarcastic. Playwright Atre wanted the name "Mee To Navhech" but then Director Mo Ga Ranganekar went ahead with "To Mee Navhech" leaving Atre furious. The book is also published by same name. In that book, Atre wrote that Ranganekar did not suggest the name. Atre had already decided the name because the protagonist in the play used it many times "To Mi Navhech". The 1st show of this play was done on 8th Oct. 1962 in Delhi

Remakes[edit]

References[edit]