Indian film and theater actor Dr. Mohan Agashe will give the keynote address titled "Cinema, Books and Us: Media Literacy in the Age of the Image" at the 10th annual Social Theory Forum conference at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Agashe will speak on April 24 at 10 a.m. in the Healey Library on the university's campus.
Agashe is a distinguished film and theater actor and trained psychiatrist. His contributions to film and theater have been recognized by numerous awards and honors including the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, India's highest national honor for the arts, he was conferred the Padma Shri by the President of India and the Bundesverdienskreuz, The Cross of the Order of Merit by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. He has also been awarded the Goethe Medal, the Official Decoration of the German Government for his contributions to theater.
In film, Agashe has acted in over 60 films in India and internationally. He was director of the Film and Television Institute of India and has been on the board of the National Film Development Corporation.
In theater, he was theater consultant to the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and was in charge of the theater program for the Festival of India in the former USSR. He also introduced contemporary Indian Theatre to Europe and North America as an actor-manager of Theatre Academy's overseas tours to present Vijay Tendulkar's folk musical play "Ghashiram Kotwal" invited to International Theatre Festivals of Berlin (Festwochen 1980), Lille (1980) Belgrade (BITEF 1989) Quebec (1986) and Baltimore (Theatre of Nations 1986) besides guest performances in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, Moscow and many cities of North America.
His greatest contribution to Indian theater and to Marathi theater has been his pioneering work in introducing the concept of Grips Theater in Berlin which has become a self-sustained movement. He has been recognized for his work in regional Marathi theater with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the All India Marathi Natya Parishad in Pune.
Agashe has been active in the mental health field. He initiated a project to strengthen mental health education and service, established the Maharashtra Institute of Mental Health of which he is the founder-director. He initiated psychosocial rehabilitation of victims of Latur earthquake of 1993 and was the Principal Investigator of a Research Project undertaken by Indian Council for Medical Research Centre for Advanced Research to study the Health Consequences of Earthquake disaster in 1994. Currently he is the principal investigator of an Indo-U.S. joint Research Project on "Cultural Disorders of Fatigue and Weakness."
His visit to the University of Massachusetts is sponsored by the departments of sociology, communication studies, psychology, English and Asian studies, as well as the Office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
UMass Boston plans several other events with Agashe around his visit. For information, e-mail Jacqueline Ryan at Jacqueline.Ryan@umb.edu.