Theatre Speaks

Bhakti Rathod
[Gujarati Theatre, Film and Television Theatre ]
Bhakti Rathod

Which is the last best play you saw?

THE WAITING ROOMS - written & directed by Dhiraj Palshetkar.

Your favourite 'adda' to see a play

Prithvi theatre.

Your favourite playwright/s

George Bernard Shaw & Neil Simon.

Your favourite play-character

Eliza Doolittle from PYGMALION.

A play you would like to see filmed. Why?

HAMLET - THE CLOWN PRINCE by Rajat Kapoor, because it's almost impossible to maintain its charm on screen and I'd like to lay my bets and witness the team achieve it.

A novel/short story you would like to see on stage?

A Scandal In Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The most hilarious play you have seen


A play, which is over-hyped

Various plays by Om Katare's group Yatri.

An important play (but ignored)

Plays like MAHARAJ, A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA, as the situations in these stories are very dramatic, yet thoroughly subtle. The two main characters are head-to-head in terms of their achievements and intellect. It shall be intriguing to watch these stories unfold live on stage.

A play character you would like to "dialogue" with

Libby from Neil Simon's I OUGHT TO BE IN THE PICTURES.

A passage from an important play that you can recite

"Santu na naam na sikka padshe...taroye vaaro aavshe Himadri, maroye danko vagshe" from SANTU RANGILEE.

A classical play that you should have read


A play that changed your perception about the theatre

BHADMANOOS (based on the wonderful "Rashomon") showed by Thespo at Prithvi. It changed my perception towards theatre from exciting to scared. It was so 'pseudo' & preachy that it almost gave a feeling that the makers are superior to the viewers, which in my opinion is against the basic instinct of making a play/film. We make a play to reach out to society and its issues by entertaining and creating scenes the audience wants to be inside of/a part of. This play, the way it was adapted, depressed me, and still haunts me before I buy a ticket for any experimental play. I don't want to feel like a guinea pig in the audience seat.

How do you regard the Mumbai theatre scene?

It is like a to-be-mother under the process of delivery. It's going through an overflow of theatrical activities (commercial & experimental). There is hope for the new like the detaching placenta, separating the old from the new, consciousness towards a new generation; the newborn cries for help, and there is some inevitable waste to bear. When the process is over Mumbai shall set an example to other world theatre hubs in the coming years.

Have you read any interesting books/articles concerning the theatre? Why did you find them interesting?

I recently happened to re-read Bharat Muni's "Natayshastra" and it is impossible to explain why it can be interesting to any theatre person...may be Stanislavski can explain!

If you have ever been a part of a theatre production/s, can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous?

It was my first step on stage in a Gujarati play and we were performing at Tejpal auditorium. Within moments of my first few dialogues I heard the audience shout in unison: "awaj-awaj", which meant my voice projection was too low for them to hear me. My senior co-actor grimaced and I carried on with the scene shouting at the top of my voice. But something snapped inside me that very moment. My self esteem broke. In that moment I could recollect all the corrections my director had been hurling at me in the rehearsal process. My walk, my posture, my acting skills, my voice quality, etc. My confidence nearly vanished that day but I decided to fight shamelessly as I had nothing more to loose. The next day onwards I started secretly working on all the skills a person must acquire for theatre. I researched, read, watched, practiced, experimented on myself, decided to try writing and threw all inhibitions away. It worked wonders. Now it has become a habit to take the "lemons that life throws" and to make lemonade out of it to relish.

Can you think of a foreign production that you found remarkable? Why?

THE 39 STEPS by Alfred Hitchcock, which is still being staged at the Criterion Theatre at Piccadilly Circus in London. The performance took my breath away because they did not depend on extravagant sets or a huge cast to mesmerise the audience, but instead the play had only 4 convincing actors and a very strong script. It held the audience captive for over 2 hours.

Your favourite director/actor/music or set designer

I would have liked to have been directed by the Late Pravin Joshi if I ever had the chance.
Favourite actors - Naseeruddin Shah & Siddharth Randeria
Favourite music director - Sachin Jigar
Favourite set designer - Chhel-Paresh.

A significant Indian production that you may have witnessed

The event "Dhammal" at Prithvi every Monday in the past. So while it was not a production, it was the most wonderful thing I have ever witnessed in live performance. It was an open platform for new talent as well as the big names to perform anything at all for an audience that was willing to watch everything.

Life in the theatre without the humble batata-wada or the cutting chaiā€¦ or can you recall the best gastronomic experience you've had in the precincts of the theatre to date?

I got to take a bottle of beer to my seat at a theatre in London to enjoy while watching the play! How I wish we could have that disciplined audience in our country so we could also allow that!"
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