Sachin Khedekar Interview with Jahnavi Pal
One of the finest actors on stage, television and films. Sachin Khedekar started as a theatre artist and effortlessly moved on to the small and big screen. Having begun his acting career on Marathi stage Khedekar has acted in several landmark plays like the WADA CHIREBANDI TRILOGY, DOOSRA SAAMNA, SHYAM RANG, KANJI VIRRUDH KANJI amongst many others. In an informal chat Khedekar shares his experiences on stage and lots more.

 By Jahnavi Pal

"I was always intrigued with acting. During my days in college I was associated with Marathi drama activities. It was then that I met Vinay Apte with whom I started doing Marathi plays. My first play AFLATOON which was an adaptation of WESTSIDE STORY was staged in 1985. After this I went on to do DHIK TAAN with Sai Paranjpe based on folklore. I also did a play with Waman Kenkre titled DOOSRA SAAMNA."

And thus began Khedekar's journey in the world of acting. Along with his acting assignments Khedekar was also working as an environmental engineer. "I had by then gathered that I was more inclined to acting and had to therefore make a decision. I wanted to go and learn the craft. I wanted to become a trained actor. But in those days there were only two institutions that taught acting, NSD and FTII. I thought over it and realized that it was too late for me to go to drama school. I know so many colleagues from NSD who say that if you are trained well you save on a lot of trouble. But fate had other plans for me."

Khedekar was now firmly entrenched in the world of drama. In 1993 he did the iconic # directed by Chandrakant Kulkarni. "I thoroughly enjoyed doing this play and I owe this to its brilliant writer, Mahesh Elkunchwar. His characterization is so powerful that the role leaves a deep impact on you. In fact such roles attach to you so much that its uncanny. And this is what makes doing a play worth all the effort. Nobody makes money in plays but it's the sheer passion for acting that keeps you doing one play after another. Another play that I enjoyed doing was my Hindi play, Javed Siddiqui's SHYAM RANG.

"For me my journey on stage is like a training ground. It is academics. This lasts a lifetime. It becomes a way of life. This is one medium I enjoy as unlike all the other mediums ( TV and films) which are one-sided this is two-sided. In the other mediums you don't know the audience reaction. On stage its only between you and the audience. For me plays are like a tonic. I may be busy through the year doing films or TV but I wish to do a play once a year at least. This is what keeps me going. I still do theatre workshops and keep myself abreast of all that's happening in the world of drama. I am of the belief that youngsters who want to pursue acting should have a learned approach as against the practiced approach."

Khedekar has also done Gujarati theatre and his play Kanji Virrudh Kanji was a huge hit with Gujarati audiences. It was later made on celluloid as Oh My God. "I was the first actor to do this play. After I did 250 shows Tiku Talsania stepped in and then Paresh Rawal played the lead in this long running play. Gujarati is not my language but I learned the nuances of the language which I feel is the most important thing to do. Moreover a live audience gives an actor ample scope to learn. It was after this that I started thinking that I should do plays in all languages. English plays are an option as you cater to an overseas audience when you travel with the play and getting to understand a different audience is always very interesting.

Kanji Viruddh Kanji

"Theatre is all about discipline. The fact that we rehearse for over 3 months for a play helps you develop your inner discipline. It's like a singer who does his riyaaz daily. In addition you get to know your co-actors as you meet them daily for months. This helps you perform better as a team."

Khedekar's passion for theatre nudged him to launch Mrugajal, an inter-collegiate drama competition. "I did this for 20 years and I benefitted personally as I grew watching young actors. Now I see many of these actors now in TV serials and I feel so good. In fact I have seen the likes of Deven Bhojani, J.D.Majethia, Arif Zakaria, Sumit Raghavan, all performing at various drama competitions. They have all learned on stage and then changed mediums."

Khedekar confesses that though he enjoys doing theatre he likes working in films more. " This is because of its staying power. A film is for posterity. Now in this lockdown when I see some of the classic films I feel this is one medium that keeps an actor alive in the audience's memory for times immemorial. "

Sharing his thoughts on the difference between Marathi and Gujarati theatre he say, "The Gujarati audience is more in number than Marathi. When I did KANJI VIRUDDH KANJI, I used to perform before a 1000 plus strong audience every night. You don't see this number for a Marathi play. In this way Gujarati theatre is a much more organized business. As a community they are more fun-loving. Marathi audiences have now evolved from Sangeet Natak to comedy to social dramas. Marathi theatre never shies away from experimenting."

He says that Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali have young budding writers that offer you something new time and again. "Unfortunately Hindi and English plays are only adapting." He wishes to do plays in all languages as learning different languages gives him a big high.

(*Jahnavi Pal is a journalist, writer and theatre buff).

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