Dr Shreeram Lagoo: The sensitive rationalist always on the social beat – Hindustan Times

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 9:27 pm

It was 1980, when there was no kind of help for social work, nor were there any non-governmental organisations in place. Dr Lagoo and Ram Apte set up the Samajik Krutadynata nidhi (a corpus fund to give a monthly honorarium to cover the basic needs of social workers). This was set up to support fulltime social activists.

He came up with an appeal to bring actors from film and theatre together to devote time for this good cause. He brought famous actors like Nilu Phule, Reema Lagoo and Sudhir Joshi together and staged Lagnachi Bedi, written by playwright Acharya Keshav Atre and took it across Maharashtra.

After the play, Dr Lagoo would walk with a jhola (bag) and appeal to the audience to donate for this fund. He used his strength as an actor for social causes and even volunteered, and it showed his passion for social causes. All these plays in far-out, small villages, where there were no good hotels, were co-ordinated by my father. None of the actors raised any compliant but went along with Dr Lagoos idea of raising funds.

This is still continuing today because Dr Lagoo set the tone. Actors make time to volunteer and continue this fund. This funding was also the beginning of a friendship between my father and Dr Lagoo. They had a common stream, a rational outlook towards life. While Dr Lagoo was an aethis and, my father was an activist running the AndhaShraddha Nirmulan Samiti, they still had common ground. They then decided to hold a debate Vivek Jagarache Vadh Samvadh, which would travel across villages in Maharashtra. Dr Lagoo would drive in his own car to the villages through out 1992-1993. During these debates, Dr Lagoo used to put forth his radical atheist argument, with a case for the retirement of God, and my father used to argue the case for opposing what was exploited in the name of God and religion.

They even faced angry mobs together, people who broke down the stage, interrupted their debate and even blackened Dr Lagoos face, but he never gave up. What he did in life was always with a rational outlook towards life and always lay emphasis on his beliefs through the faculty of reason.

After my fathers killing, Dr Lagoo was shaken and he was present for the protests that followed.

Dr Lagoos passing has created a vacuum. His legacy stands for truth, which is a rare thing. He performed in both theatre, and the social movement, leaving his footprint behind.

- Hamid Dabholkar, son of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar who was murdered by right-wing fundamentalists, remembers Dr Shreeram Lagoo as not just an actor, but a very sensitive human being with a scientific mind. Dabholkar is today a member of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (Mans), the organisation formed by his father.

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Dr Shreeram Lagoo: The sensitive rationalist always on the social beat - Hindustan Times

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