Interview with jamini Pathak
Jaimini Pathak is the founder of Working Title, a theatre production company. It has produced numerous theatrical plays. Jaimini has also acted in major films and web series

 By Tarun Agarwal

What role has theatre played in your career?

I started out as an actor in the theatre. After a few years, I also started directing and producing. So, theatre is a full time career for me, in addition to the work I do as an actor in cinema and the OTT space.

What was the first play you did as a director?
CURFEW, written by Ramu Ramanthan. It premiered at the Prithvi Theatre Festival in 1999 and subsequently had a very successful run of about 50 shows.

Does theatre bring you work on the big screen, OTTs or is it more of an impediment in commercialising your craft?

I have always enjoyed the respect of the film industry due to my work in the theatre.

Would you advise actors to turn directors in theatre so that they can create an opportunity for themselves?

Sure. There is immense satisfaction in creating your own work. At the same time, direction may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Will it involve financially difficult situations?

That depends on how good one is at donning the producer's hat.

What are your future projects in theatre?
LAGHU is an ongoing theatre project. As we identify more short stories, we will be ready with the next production. Apart from that, my solo performance, MAHADEVBHAI (1892-1942), written and directed by Ramu Ramanthan, has crossed 350 shows and continues to have performances.

How can Hindi theatre be more widely watched?

The logical answer to this would be that producers in any language, not just Hindi, should travel far and wide with their work. And that young people should consider doing theatre as a career. However, the circumstances and economics of doing this are quite challenging. Government funding agencies could do much more. So could the private sector. Right now we have pockets of excellence and lop-sided funding. Theatre festivals are a good place to showcase one's work. There need to be many, many more such opportunities. Also, the culture of not expecting a complimentary pass and supporting theatre by buying a ticket is not widely prevalent, except in a few states like Maharashtra and Bengal.

What can Indian theatre learn from how it is done in the west?

Doing theatre in the West is an established career option that offers practitioners some degree of monetary and social security, unlike in India. While there is no doubt that theatre is socially relevant in India, the economics and ethos needs to reflect that too.

Even though theatre is considered a more pure form of art than movies, there is also the fact that there is a near equal amount of nepotism in it. How do you think big opportunities could be made more democratic?

I think theatre is one field where talent and skill are largely given prominence over any other considerations. You can't hide a bad actor onstage.

What is your favourite book on acting/directing?
I remember being very inspired by Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed.' Apart from that, most of my theatre reading is a reverse process. I've done theatre in a very hands-on manner, returned to read a book after a while, and found many echoes in it to what I have been doing.

Who would you consider to be the most instrumental teacher/mentor in your progress?

I've worked with many directors over the years, starting with Satyadev Dubey. I've collaborated with Sunil Shanbag, Naseeruddin Shah and Ramu Ramanathan. They all had something unique to offer me.

Which theatre classes would you recommend for newcomers to join in?

My recommendation would be for newcomers to watch lots of plays, and try to join up with theatre groups whose work they find stimulating and inspiring.

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