Theatre Speaks

Prajakt Deshmukh
Director, Actor

By Vipul Mahagaonkar

Which is the last play you liked and why?
Couple of years back I had seen a single act play title ANI MOTHA PAUS AALA. It was performed by a group from Ichalkaranji. The play was against the backdrop of the floods in Sangli-Kolhapur area and it effectively portrayed the tension and stress in a family. And I had seen National Theatre's FRANKENSTEIN during the lockdown. It was just amazing.

Your favourite adda to see a play...
Since I am from Nashik, I have seen most of the plays here at Kalidas and Pasa Natyagriha. Besides, I especially love to see plays at Dadar's Yashwant Natyagriha and Prithvi Theater in Mumbai.

Your favourite playwright...
Jayant Pawar, Vijay Tendulkar, Satish Alekar, Rajiv Naik, Mahesh Elkunchwar.

Your favourite play-character...
Lakshmi from SAKHARAM BINDER, Iago from OTHELLO and Victor Frankenstein. And a character of a ‘Master' which I played from a play titled HANDABHAR CHANDANYA.

A play you would like to see filmed. Why?
None. Theatre has often been described as the art of absence, but it may not be as effective in the films. On the contrary, it freaks me out when I get to know that my favourite play has been adapted for a film.

A novel/short story you would like to see on stage? Why?
There are two- three of them. But what if I mention them here and someone does it before me? Hahahaha! Sorry, I am very possessive when it comes to plays.

The most hilarious play you have seen...

A play character you would like to "dialogue" with...
Kanhoba from ANAND OVARI and Chandu Kaka from WADA CHIREBANDI.

A passage from an important play that you can recite...

A classical play that you should have read...
the balcony by Jean Genet.

A play that changed your perception about the theatre....
NATASAMRAT. That's the first play I saw. I was in school then. I was so overwhelmed while watching that first time theatrical experience. I haven't come out of that experience called Natak

How do you regard the Mumbai/Indian theatre scene?
Right now, everything seems to be fine, except Theatre. In the lockdown period, the entertainment sector and specifically theatre was totally neglected. Films at least had OTT platforms. But theatre had nothing. This is unfortunate.

Have you read any interesting books/articles concerning the theatre? Why did you find them interesting?
I recently read
1) Headline: Digital theatre isn't theatre. It is a way to mourn its absence. I had read this article in the New York Times.
2) During the Lockdown, all the articles published by the magazine RangaVaacha were important.

Can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous during your theatre journey?
1. The first meeting between me and Dr. Rajeev Naik sir in the context of my play SANGEET DEVBABHALI was a learning experience and insightful. It changed me.
2. Also, in one of the plays, my friend and I were standing in front of each other. We both were playing Roman kings. The soliloquy of the third Roman emperor was in progress. At the back, we both were paused in a ready position to kill each other. When the soliloquy was over, I was supposed to attack him with a knife. When the moment came, I was unable to remove my knife. It was stuck. But we improvised. Even today we remember that fiasco and laugh a lot.

Can you think of a foreign production that you found remarkable? Why?
The play that I mentioned above, FRANKENSTEIN. And an Israeli theatre group's play A STRANGER GUEST, which I saw at Bharangam at Patna.

Your favourite director/actor/music or set designer...
Director : Satish Alekar (MAHANIRVAAN) Chandrakant Kulkarni (WADA CHIREBANDI and MAGNATALYAKATHI)
Actor : Shriram Lagoo (MITRA) , Sumeet Raghavan (solo act)
Set design : Pradeep Mulye (Many)
Music : Anand Oak
Lights : Prafull Dixit

A significant Indian production that you may have witnessed...

Life in the theatre without the humble batata-wada or the cutting chai... or can you recall the best gastronomic experience you've had in the precincts of the theatre to date?
Gadkari's katta missal and sulemani chai at Prithvi

*Vipul Mahagaonkar is a director, playwright and filmmaker
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