How and why Theatre?
I come from a big joint family, with some 65 odd people in my family. My cousins were mostly into sports and I was really bad at it. One of my cousins told my mom about a theatre group in Pune that conducts workshops for children and by the end of the workshop you get a chance to be on stage. I was always interested, so my mom enrolled me into this workshop. That’s how the journey started.
Basically from Pune where the inter collegiate theatre scene is really strong. I’ve been doing a lot of inter collegiate theatre as well and I have my own group in Pune called Natak Company.
Creating Marathi theatre for a global audience
My group in Pune- Natak Company, we don’t do shows often in Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore. Our audience is mainly Pune, Mumbai and Nagpur. We’ve also toured abroad but then we have to do shows with subtitles. I think the reach is what matters. Our plays are not like hardcore Marathi plays. If a non-Marathi guy is sitting in the audience, he will definitely understand the whole play.
Working with different languages
My comfort zone is Marathi because I think in Marathi. When I’m doing an English play, it gets a little difficult when I have to improvise because I have to first think in Marathi and then translate into English and then try and do something with it. It’s important to work outside your comfort zone. I am happy about the fact that language or previous work is no barrier. In fact, my experience in Marathi theatre has helped me a lot. I think the approach is same. What you lived in all these years in your life, it’s bound to reflect in your work.
According to you, what is the scope of improving the Indian theatre scene?
Every group has its own audience. Marathi experimental theatre groups have their own target audience. English theatre groups, they have their own target audience. But what about audience who hasn’t seen a play before? People go to NCPA, people go to Prithvi, there are a number of people who like to watch plays in these venues. The numbers multiply but they are not consistent.
We shy away from something called ‘glamour’. If we want to build a new audience and explore something beyond the normal theatre going audience, we need to really be shameless in the way we are promoting our plays. We can try and rope in people for whom theatre going might be a first time experience.
Is Indian Theatre dying or evolving?
I’m a romantic person. I’m pretty positive about theatre because I love theatre and I have seen the magic. I don’t think it’s a dying art form. I don’t think it’s an art form that will ever die because people will always eventually want to see flesh on stage, like live humans on stage. Nothing can beat that experience. We have to find new ways to bring in new people to watch plays and spread theatre everywhere.