Tannaz Irani
Be it Television, films or theatre Tannaz Irani is a big name to reckon with in all the mediums and she has balanced it all. While some artists leave one medium to set their foot in another one, Tannaz juggled in all the three mediums and never lost the connect. She may have taken small breaks up and down, but the actress was always and is there for all the mediums out there. Tannaz, who won our hearts with some of her fantastic plays like 'SELFIE', 'DADDY COOL', 'TWO 2 TANGO', and others is back in vogue with her new play 'HIDDEN AGENDAS' which hits the nail on the head the way current generation is hooked on to social media, and has disrupted the relationship system. In an exclusive conversation with the bubbly & effervescent actress spills the beans on her sabbatical, how technology has become a bane as far as human relations are concerned, what transpired her to become a coach & NMB practitioner, how working in theatre is like a Meditation and much more...

 By Rachana Choksi


What was the reason behind this long sabbatical?
I just felt that I needed more concentration on my television part and because of which I wasn't getting time to attend rehearsals. It becomes very hectic when you are doing TV and other stuff because of which my dates were very volatile. So, I don't think I was having that flexibility of actually being committed to go to rehearsals every day. It was becoming a challenge, hence I decided to take a break from theatre.

Going by the name 'HIDDEN AGENDAS' the play appears to be mysterious and many secrets lying underneath. So, what is the play like? What it has to offer?
For that you will have to watch the play I am not going to give away much of the story. But as the title suggests all of us as human beings have certain hidden agendas in life, something that we hide from even our closed ones and family members; something that is predominantly you, the way you want to kind of conduct that part of your life and not necessarily everybody wants to disclose it, not necessarily it is nice. You don't want to divulge it with anybody be it closest of friends or relatives so that hidden agendas is all about.

How relatable was this story line or character?
Actually, it is relatable with everyone. Everyone has a part in their life which they are not sharing with anyone and given this script it's all about social media and the mobile phone. Right now, cell phone actually has become bane of all relationships. Although it does save us time as it helps in ordering groceries or other stuff, have your zoom meetings but the same amount of time that you are saving on the phone is occupied on it and because of which you are not physically connected with people. I just feel people are losing real connection and they are actually just going back on the phone using the entire day scrolling over it's like corollary of sorts and that's what Hidden Agendas is all about. Even when we are with people, we are actually alone we are just not sharing anything that is going in our lives, we are just not sharing that is predominantly us. This lack of communication affects relationships. Many a times if we make a simple communication so many things can be handled and surpassed easily. All the depression and agitation can be overcome.

So you believe smart phones have hampered the current relationship system?
Yes absolutely. In fact, I am doing another Gujarati play called 'MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE' which discusses all about the mobile phones. (I do love Marathi and Gujarati theatre in fact their stories, foundations and premises are so beautiful and relatable). Though its fine you have your meetings on the phone and can connect to beloved ones wherever they are in the world, but when you actually go out there taking extra effort to be with them, preparing yourself to meet them, and sharing the same vibes, changes the entire equation. This generation is the most distracted generation that would walk the planet according to me. As much as I love technology, keep myself updated, but it has become a real bane.

As you just shared about your upcoming play 'My beautiful wife', are you also directing it?
No I am not directing it. Last play that I acted and directed was 'SELFIE'. It was a rage and we got a standing ovation in America, in Chicago, in New York. It is a beautiful play adapted from a Marathi play.

So, when are we seeing you back in direction?
Not in a bit. I have my plate full with different work. Besides, last year Saumi was going through a very bad physical health ailment. Post that I became a life coach, a transformational coach, I have also become a NMB practitioner and I have also started my business doing that. So right after that I could barely fit in was 'HIDDEN AGENDAS'.

What are your hidden agendas as far as your career is concerned?
Well no Hidden Agendas. It's all out there. Definitely acting is there, few assignments are there and big chunk of my life will be dedicated to my coaching business. It's so delightful and you feel useful when you are doing something for someone. May be in the entertainment industry I will keep doing work that will bring smile for people but on the other side as a coach I kind of will dig little bit deeper and understand things and develop inner power in the needy.

You have been pro at making people smile which other genres you want to master it now?
I don't know may be slice of life is something I want to get into, more realistic, something which has more impact on the youth.

Content wise which medium has been most satisfactory to you?
It's very difficult to choose, because each has its flavour and each has its advantages as per artist satisfaction. Films are on larger canvas and larger frame; you are launched on a larger scale and you can see yourself as larger than life. There is a lot of process that goes into it plus it is more glamourous, you are archived for life but when you look at theatre that's when you actually learn to act. Of course you are talented and you know how to act but you learn how to get into that character and stay in that character at every single performance and that is difficult. There's a give and take because you learn how to work in a team. Theatre kind of grooms you totally to be the complete package. Television is just churning it out again and again, keeps you on your toes, helps you with your stress management, it helps you earn lot of money...I have done it all so I am fine with all the three.

But do you think theatre is still a chilled out medium as compared to others, while other mediums have their set of pressures?
I don't think theatre is a chilled out medium at all. Theatre is that much more demanding because you need to be in that present moment all the time. There is no retake or going back after you have done that mistake, so you really need to be present. It's like a meditation you are just there. A lot of times people are not just present where they are, whether they are at a party or at a funeral. But theatre kind of teaches you to be present in that moment because you can't be anywhere else, you can't afford to miss a line or you can't afford not to be there on your queue so that a person can react. So theatre is not chilled out so to speak.

How was it working with 'HIDDEN AGENDAS' team?
It was a great pleasure working with entire team. The entire team is very talented. I know Anu Menon since years, I know Dilnaz since years and previously we have done a play together. Of course Sid Makkar and Varun I met for the first time but it was pleasurable working with all of them. They were sensational. Even the newcomer Renee Sen was a delight to work with. At certain level we all just became friends but at the same time we all knew we had to do our work. The give and take was great. Sharma ji also being my oldest friend with whom I vibe the most, we gelled so well otherwise I don't like to go where I don't enjoy.

Any memorable moment you want to share with us.
Every person was a great fun. We always cracked jokes and had a chilled-out environment.

What message this play has to convey?
'HIDDEN AGENDAS' teaches that one has to step out of their virtual world. You need to make wise choices. Just because you have an instruement (phone) that offers you the world doesn't mean you forget the world you are living in...Your world has to belong to your loved ones, you need to spend equal amount of time with them, sharing with them, speaking with them...I think people are just lost...Even in the house if you are not getting along with someone, you are not making that effort to communicate to make amends that can be worked out. The more you go in the virtual world where actually nobody cares about you, eventually end up getting in depression... you are not thinking ahead and are just in a are just getting in wide dark web. You start up at one place and end up completely different. You are just wandering here and there and finally wondering why the hell I was there on this page. So that's what Hidden Agendas is trying to tell you be with your loved ones.

Going by the concept of 'HIDDEN AGENDAS', your phone was ever caught off guard. Share us the experience, if any.
May be when you are talking sometimes in your group you get caught off guard because in the context that you are speaking is different and someone takes certain words out of context than that can be a problem. But having said that I am pretty now seasoned as to how to kind of speak. My phone is pretty much open it does not have a lock on ....In fact my kids are always into my phone. I think after a certain age and stage there is nothing to hide.

Finally what message do you have for your fans
Well live your life, be in focus and work towards your dreams because they are completely achievable. I don't think one should get carried away by social media and one should not compare his or her life on social media.

Rachana Choksi has been a Bollywood writer for over 10 years and being a theatre lover she is now penning stories for Mumbai Theatre Guide.

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