Niketan Sharma Interview
Niketan Sharma has produced and directed two plays - ADRAK and PHOTO-COPY. His experience holds lessons for actors and writers who want to turn theatre producers.

 By Tarun Agarwal

What has been the journey like from being a participant in theatre to writing and directing a play?

I was part of the Players, Kirorimal College's theatre group. After drama school, for three years in Mumbai, I was looking for acting jobs as I wanted to act. The thought came to me that I should write for myself to be able to act. I wrote my first play titled ADRAK. I also directed and acted in it. People noticed my work and that is how I grew. When I have to say something or an incident comes to my mind I start to write about it. That is how PHOTO-COPY happened. Talking about direction, it too happened without any planning. I was keen on exploring this unknown territory. I guess the pieces we had created in the theatre lab during Drama School trained me to be a director.

What is the personal growth you have felt by conducting this play?

Personal growth is ensured by any kind of work we do. Understanding the actor-director equation, experience from taking our show to Prithvi, working with my producer Raisa Ghosh, learning about management and budgeting, it has all been a great process. I learnt a lot from the audience feedback. It makes me more empathetic because after watching the play, they would come to me and share their stories.

Which are the plot points in the play which are closest to your heart?

I can't say that one particular plot point is particularly close to me. The idea of a man forgetting his father was very important for me and was the driving force behind writing the play. The characters are also very close to me. The theme that a boy is forgetting the memories about his father was the germ of the play and was very close to me.

Without really disclosing the figures, can you tell us the cost and revenue for the play?

Talking of my play, Serendipity had commissioned it so that made it easy for me to conduct the play. My experience is that it Is sustainable to create theatre productions. Shows make profits and losses. Overall, a play gives you enough profit to be able to organize your next show.

In which areas do you think you could do better in your future productions?

There is always scope of improvement. What excites me about theatre is that with each show it keeps getting better. I'm very keen on improving the technical aspects, stage design, sound etc. I want to learn and experiment with my plays. It's a never-ending process.

You also acted in Cubicles, the web series. How do you motivate yourself to do theatre with such a limited audience after tasting such massive reach with Cubicles?

I don't think about the numbers even though the larger audience that a web series gets cannot be ignored. But I really enjoy the live interaction with the audience in the theatre. I like being on the edge. I think the story comes first and that decides what medium is best for it. I pick a medium depending upon my story and people who want to see or do plays will come if I chose theatre as a medium. The importance of shows like Cubicles cannot be denied but it is tougher as equipment is required, and budgets increase a lot.

How were you able to convince Rasika Agashe to be part of PHOTO-COPY?

I had put the word out that I was seeking an actress for the role. The message reached her as well. I had not known her much before I got into a discussion with her. She liked the script and was agreeable to acting in it. I also reacted very positively to the fact that someone who has built a reputation in theatre for herself wanted to act in it. It gave me a lot of confidence as she is such an experienced performer. The script helped me to get her interested.

*Tarun Agarwal is the author of Hope Factory: Business Ideas For Everyone, and has directed a short film, Honesty Weds Dishonesty)

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