Sangita Joshi Interview
She's a writer, photographer, producer and an actor. Having spent almost three decades on stage Sangita Joshi has seen it all. She's played social, comic, serious and emotional characters with equal ease. Some of her popular plays like SAWKA SARNAMA directed by Kanti Madia, SASARIYU SONANI KHAAN, BAA SAHEB, MASTI MA MARRIAGE-MARRIAGE MA MASTI, VAR NE SHODHU KE VISA NE, CHALTI KA NAAM GADI and now her latest offering, SAGPAN TANE SAALMUBARAK have been appreciated by theatregoers.

 By Jahnavi Pal

SAGPAN TANE SAALMUBARAK premiered just before the pandemic but had to be pulled out due to the restrictions. Now that things are better it has re-opened.
What were the challenges you faced in the past two years?

We did face a few challenges. We had to recast a few actors as some have moved on for better prospects. In fact we even changed the entire presentation of the play and now it has a fresh look and feel. Now the set is even more grand than before and so are the costumes. In fact we worked hard and ironed out some of the glitches during this period and now the play is in a new and better avatar.

Tell us a little about the play

It's about a husband, wife and their son who is a star cricketer in the Indian team. I play a retired judge and the play revolves around the relationship between the mother and son. The mother is a strong lady who remains unfazed in any adversity. The play has a lot of emotional drama, comic relief and is an out and out family entertainer. It is the perfect recipe for any age group who wants to enjoy a good play.

Are audiences ready to step into an auditorium once again or do they still harbour any fears?

On the contrary I am optimistic and have noticed that audiences are eager to come to watch live theatre. In fact they want to get out of their homes and watch a good play. People are coming to watch my play as it has a lot of star value. Written by Pravin Solanki, it has Hemant Jha and me in the lead along with veteran actor Rajul Diwan. Besides this play has the youngest producer making his debut, Jash Joshi. So audiences are coming with great expectations and I am sure we will live up to it.

Gujarati theatre audiences majorly root for comedies. Your views

Our play is a totally balanced play. It has a healthy blend of social values, drama and clean comedy. I call it a complete package. I believe that they are tired of OTT and even the usual cheap comedies. They want to get out and watch something new and fresh. SAGPAN TANE SAALMUBARAK also has a young love track which will appeal to the youth. I agree that until now comedies were sought after by the audience but soon things are changing. You give them something different and they do appreciate it. Good quality plays have been well received and I am optimistic that this trend will continue.

You have been doing theatre for decades. Which have been some of your most challenging roles?

The first that comes to my mind is SAASARIYU SONANI KHAAN where I played a negative daughter-in-law who ultimately turns positive. Having played a parallel role opposite Kalpana Diwan was a great challenge. Then, I made a comeback of sorts in BAA SAHEB which had Padmarani in the lead. This was a good role as well. Another play that comes to mind is GHATNA 2003 which had me play a very soft, emotional role which I thoroughly enjoyed. Soon after this I played a different kind of character in CHALTI KA NAAM GAADI where I played strong mother to three sons and how she balances three diverse daughter-in-laws.

Tell us a bit of your earlier journey on stage

I made my debut with Kanti Madia's SAAVKA SARNAMA in 1993 after which I did an English play, Kidnapping of Shaila Khan with Neena Gupta. Then I did AFLATOON which was a huge hit. When I did a comic role opposite Feroze Bhagat in MARRIAGE MA MASTI- MASTI MA MARRIAGE audiences loved our comic timing and this was very gratifying as an actor.

What are your views on the current Gujarati theatre scene?
Gujarati theatre is seeing a slow and steady change. Producers are now realising that there is a need to offer good plays. Audiences have to be wooed into seeing something new. We have to help them form a new habit. One needs to take risks like we have done with our new play for which we got a standing ovation for our first show.

What next?

I recently did a play for YouTube called PASHA PATEL NE VISA MALYA. This play has 15 top actors from stage like Rajendra Butala, Sanat Vyas, Hemant Jha, Pratap Sachdev, Arvind Vekariya. We are waiting for the right time to launch it as it is being shot like a film. I am working on yet another play where I play a strong central character which profiles her entire life's journey. There is a lot happening so I am looking forward to the next few years.

*Jahnavi Pal is a journalist, writer and theatre buff

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