Hemant Jha Interview
Hemant Jha is a veteran of Gujarati stage and films. After having debuted in 1975 with a play called KARTA JAAL KAROLIYO he went on to act in plays like AJATSHATRU, PRIYAJAN, HAVE TO LILA LEHER CHE, JANMDAATA, DHARMAYUDHA, BAAJIGAR, NAQAB, NONDHPOTHI, MANIBEN DOT COM, HEEM PANKHI amongst several others.

Hemant has also been seen on the big screen both in Hindi and Gujarati films. He is not only a known face on stage and the big screen but also in the courts of law as he is a practicing lawyer.

 By Jahnavi Pal

How does it feel to be back on the stage after a long lull?

It feels wonderful and I am thrilled to be doing what I enjoy most which is acting. After the compulsory vacation that we were all subjected to this is indeed a much needed outing. To experience the warmth of the audiences and enjoy the bonding between the spectators and the actors is every actor's dream. I am so happy to be back.

What is your role in this play SAGPAN TANE SAALMUBARAK?

I play the father's role in SAGPAN and my wife is a retired judge. We have a son who undergoes a sea change in his career due to unforeseen reasons and this causes some turbulence in our lives. In everybody's life there is a villain and so it is in our lives. The twists and turns that follow make the play a good watch.

Having been on the stage for so many years can you define any of your favourite characters?

Let me be honest, I know my limitations and with the blessings of the Almighty I have continued to get good work over the years. I enjoy each and every role that comes my way. When I play any role it's like a different person enters my being and I portray that character. One becomes a new person. You use a different body language, speak differently and portray someone you are not. This is a thrilling experience and hence I have enjoyed every role that I have done so far.

Is the audience wary of coming to auditoriums post the pandemic?

I do see a slight hesitancy and feel that everybody is taking a few initial precautions. They are keen to return to the theatres but one can sense a hidden fear. But I am sure that slowly they will return in large numbers. After every show they have come and met me backstage and told me how much they missed live theatre. So I am convinced it's a matter of time and we will soon see full houses.

You have done many comedy plays. Do you think that is the flavour of the season?

I do believe that Gujarati audiences prefer comedies. In fact even when something serious has to be conveyed and if done in a light manner it is received well by the audience. This is the reason most producers don't want to risk any other genre.

What is your next offering?

Currently my focus is on this play. I am in talks with a few producers and am looking ahead at soon doing another good play.

*Jahnavi Pal is a journalist, writer and theatre buff

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