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Laxman memorial, NSD-like institute to come up in Maharashtra

Eminent cartoonist R K Laxman

Mumbai: Maharashtra government is planning to set up a memorial in the honour of legendary cartoonist R K Laxman and also establish a National School of Drama (NSD) like institute for theatre training in the state, the Assembly was informed today.

The proposed memorial at the city-based J J School of Architecture will house selected caricatures drawn by Laxman, who passed away in January, and highlight themes spanning over eight decades, Culture Minister Vinod Tawde said.

An award to recognise contribution in the field of culture will be instituted in the memory of celebrated folk singer Shahir Sable, who passed away recently, he said.

A Maharashtra School of Drama on lines of Delhi-based NSD is being planned at the Phalke Chitranagari (film city) in Mumbai, he said, replying to a debate on preservation of forts and state of Marathi language and culture.

Tawde said the government is mulling to set up a board which will prepare an action plan for preservation of historical structures, forts and heritage sites. The board will have a separate budget.

The BJP-Shiv Sena administration plans to organise a week-long festival every year at the historic Raigad Fort, which was the seat of Maratha empire during Shivaji’s reign in the 17th century.

The event, ‘Raigad Mahotsav’, will re-create the Maratha warrior king’s era at the historic fort, about 180-km from Mumbai, Tawde said. There is a proposal to draw Rs 5 lakh from each MLA’s development fund for preservation of the Raigad Fort, he said.

“Raigad Fort is a national monument maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. If Maharashtra Government is to take it over, the monument will have to be downgraded to a state monument. We are trying to have a State-Centre joint participation (for its preservation),” he said.

Tawde announced that from May 1, police band will be played every Sunday in select cities, which will host “lok aangan”, a platform to showcase the state’s folk culture.

A 25-minute audio-visual presentation on Bharat Ratna, Maharashtra Bhushan awardees as well as gallantry award winners from the state will form part of the event, he said.

Efforts will be made to provide fillip to experimental theatre and a separate auditorium at the PL Deshpande Academy in Mumbai has been earmarked for the purpose, Tawde said.

There is also a plan to bring PL Deshpande Academy, Kolhapur Film City and Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari in Mumbai under one umbrella body, the Minister said.

Currently, all these entities are governed by separate bodies.

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