Interview
 
Nimesh Interview
Actor, director, writer, producer Nimesh Diliprai is a complete package. An alumnus of MS University, Nimesh is trained in performing arts and has been an integral part of landmark plays on Gujarati stage. KHANDAAN, DHOOMAS NE PELE PAAR, BADALTA CHEHRA, ANE PANNKHAR VITI GAYI, PREM NO PASSWORD, KOI BHINTE THI AAYNA UTAARO, PREM NU PAYTM, TAMAS, BENAQAAB, DHARMORAKSHATI, JAANTA AJAANTA are some of his memorable offerings on stage.


 By Jahnavi Pal


Hailing from the small town of Navsari, Nimesh has come a long way. After his graduation he came to Mumbai with dreams of not just being an actor but also a director. The inevitable struggle followed but he didn't give up. Reminiscing about his childhood and his initial foray into the world of acting he says, "I started acting when I was in class two and even wrote small skits when I was in class seven. I did some amateur theatre in Navsari Then I did my graduation in theatre from MS University.

"Then I came to Mumbai and did my first play as an actor. At that time I wanted to become a director so I switched to assisting directors. I had seen plays by Homi Wadia and Sailesh Dave and their work inspired me. I always wanted to do plays of the kind they were doing. In fact my working style, treatment of the subject is greatly influenced by Wadia. Then in 2006 I joined Amee Trivedi as a partner in Avni Arts. Amee and I have done about 17 plays under this banner and I work as a writer, actor, director and now producer too."

Recalling his debut on stage he says, "When I was in class eight I did a play for a competition where I played the least important character. During the rehearsals after the director saw my potential I was 'upgraded' to the second most important character in that play. After this I never looked back. But on the commercial stage my debut was with a play called SHATRU THI SWAJAN SUDHI in 1991. This was written by Suresh Rajda. But unfortunately it didn't do well. Thereafter I switched gears to directing serials and for ten years I was busy doing that. But it so happened that in 2000 Homi Wadia was doing SHAKKAR BAAJ with only three characters and this became a milestone play for me as I shared stage with my mentor. Homi, Pallavi Pradhan and me did the three roles and this was a really important role for me. For a few years I worked only intermittently on stage. But I did some good plays with Homi like RESHAM DANKH, DHOOMAS NE PELE PAAR. In VISTAAR BALLARD ESTATE I played a negative role which was a very interesting role. I also did plays then with Siddarth Randeria and Kamlesh Mota. the only Hindi play that I have done is SHYAM RANG, written by Javed Siddiqi where Kunal Khemu played my son. It initially had Swaroop Sampat in the lead and later Lubna Salim took her place. But after I joined hands with Amee I was continuously doing plays. Theatre became my sole focus."

Talking about the relevance of formal training for actors he opines, "I definitely think that actors should be trained. Many do believe that acting is all about talent but if an actor knows his craft then this will enhance his talent. My training has definitely helped me. I started doing plays that were 'my kind' of plays as the concept of 'sold out shows' never appealed to me. I am not being judgmental but since I was very influenced by the likes of Dave, Madia, Wadia I wanted to do only such plays."

Nimesh says he has had a rough journey and was out of work for a very long time when he came to chase his dreams in Mumbai. " When I came to Mumbai, Bhaidas in Vile Parle, Birla Kreeda Kendra and Bhavans in Chowpatty were the three places were theatre enthusiasts would meet daily. I was so new to the city that I didn't even know where to go to 'struggle'! I would get ready everyday and make my way to one of these places to be seen or noticed. There was a time when I didn't have any work but my determination to make it saw me through this phase. I am one of the few who came from MS University, like Dharmesh Vyas, Swapna Waghmare Joshi, Yogesh Joshi. It was a big risk but it had to be taken."

He soon found acceptance and he directed interesting plays like TAMAS based on the hit Broadway play Wait Until Dark. "This was under the Avni Arts banner. I told Amee I wanted to direct this thriller. I even shot a trailer of this play and this play gave me recognition as a director. This in a way was a turning point in my life. The next play that I acted, wrote and directed was BENAQAAB. This was a hit and was a very upmarket play which had many set changes as well. Then came JAANTA AJAANTA in which both Amee and I played pivotal roles. It was about cyber crime and a very progressive play. I believe in experimental plays and this play was one such play. It received a lot of critical acclaim. DHARMORAKSHATI written by Mihir Bhuta is another one such play that I am so proud of. The subject was contemporary and very though provoking. In the commercial arena one would never have taken such a big risk but Amee and I took up this challenge."

He has recently acted in a few web series and has enjoyed the process so much that he is now concentrating on the new found OTT platform. "All I am sure of is only one thing that I will not do the run-of-the –mill plays. I want to take risks."

Talking of life on stage after Corona, he says despite the lull entertainment will only evolve as it is as vital as food and water. Every ten years a new life is breathed into theatre. I think we will soon see a jump in theatre as audiences in this period have seen a lot of different plays on OTT platform and are exposed to international content. Until now they have been only enjoying vanilla ice-cream. But now they will demand Dutch Truffle or Butter Scotch. I do not wish to comment by saying one is right and the other wrong. Each one has a right to do what pleases him most. Each one will serve his brand of entertainment. But it is a given that something new will have to be served.

"Currently I can say that theatre is in hibernation. Auditoriums have shut down, artistes and backstage workers are in a bad shape. The pain that we have all gone through will give rise to something better and wonderful. This time has taught all of us so much that we will surprise ourselves. I am very hopeful that when theatre resumes after this lockdown there will be a new beginning. A new energy, new hope will emerge."

*Jahnavi Pal is a journalist, writer and theatre buff





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