Vijay Kenkre Interview
Actor, director Vijay Kenkre is a name to reckon with in Marathi theatre. And the maverick director has hit the bull's eye again!!! Looks like scoring century with his plays and churning out hit after hit has turned habitual for the prolific and successful director, actor and occasional writer Vijay Kenkre. Recently, his play A PERFECT MURDER completed 300 shows. Prior to that his Marathi Play KALI RANI celebrated century. His other plays like 38 KRUSHNA VILLA, MAHARATHI were lauded by the audience. And now his play YOU MUST DIE, which is a Marathi adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel The Unexpected Guest, is all set to complete 100 shows in August.

 By Rachana Sheth

While the veteran dramatist and director has dabbled in multiple genres and tasted success, but it looks like Vijay has certainly caught up the attention with mystery thrillers like A PERFECT MURDER, MAHARATHI and now YOU MUST DIE. Ask Vijay about the overwhelming response that he is fetching with thrillers and he elatedly says, "Yes whenever we did thrillers they were accepted by the public. But, initially there was no one who wanted to produce thrillers, despite creative acceptance. As compared to social subjects and comedies, thrillers never received overwhelming response. But thanks to OTT and other platforms, thrillers have become order of the day even in theatre industry. It is the impact of OTT and other new mediums that people are more clinged to this genre now. Earlier people would prefer to read mystery thrillers instead of watching it on any of the platforms."

He adds, "From last seven years people have started showing interest in Marathi thriller plays. And I somewhere deep down knew that YOU MUST DIE will also click with the audience because of its interesting subject."

Ask Vijay if he is reaping the fruits of all the efforts that he put behind bringing thrillers in forefront, in theatre medium, and he quickly says, "I think it all started with HAA SHEKHAR KHOSLA KON AAHE? When this play was accepted whole heartedly by the audience we slightly got the confidence that if we do thrillers it will pay off. I have certainly directed the play but I think the producers of YOU MUST DIE, Devendra Rao and Aditi Rao, who actually took the risk and invested their interest. I think it's the producers who take the risk. As a director I love to do various genres but you must get financial back up as well plus the actors do matter. When you have a superstar or it's a star studded play it becomes easier to market it or attract footfalls. In case of YOU MUST DIE the entire credit goes to the production house that believed in the material over superstars and the producers were ready to cast good actors."

Vijay further reasons about YOU MUST DIE performing well in Pune city. He says, "As compared to Mumbai YOU MUST DIE has got good response in Pune. And the reason about this is Pune has more Maharashtrians. Moreover, auditoriums in Mumbai are less as compared to Pune and if that is not enough these auditoriums are located far. In Mumbai travelling matters."

While OTT or big screen or for that matter small screen can take enough liberties in presenting mystery thrillers, ask Vijay if stage have limited scope to present thrillers and he says, "The kind of plot that we choose for theatre is way slightly different than that of a film. I don't think there is ever any compromise but if you want to do something like Mission Impossible then that cannot be done. It is very difficult to present on stage at least here in India. Here the limitation is as per the size of the auditorium nothing else. Ultimately, the basic difference is that the camera can show you 100 percent reality but in theatre you always have to use imagination. And I won't call it as limitation but it's only the difference of the medium."

Probe Vijay about going behind the camera ever and he sets the records straight by saying, "I don't understand camera to be very honest. I have not done any film so far and I don't understand camera that's a different medium altogether. I am more interested in plays." Having said that he also maintains, "….But you never know I might also do a film or a series or anything else."

Interestingly, writer Neeraj Shirvaikar and director Vijay have teamed up again with YOU MUST DIE after A PERFECT MURDER. When we asked about his association with the writer and if they share a common wavelength, he said, "We have a tuning ….He is a theatre graduate and I was his teacher in the past so I know him for over years now. We have an association since 2010."

Vijay doesn't feel he is game changer or a trend setter. He says, "I am nobody to take Marathi theatre further. I don't think I have changed the way Marathi plays are doing right now. In fact nobody can do that. I think everything happens with the flow. I too love to go with the flow. I have been very fortunate to teach in various universities and schools so that keeps you updated and that it is very important…"

On a parting note Vijay shares about his future projects, "Right now I am working on a love story, then a children's play, which will be a fantasy, then a fantasy comedy. It is very interesting to work on different genres and different styles."

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