Expectations are bound to be high when you hail from a family of celebrated theatre artistes. But Aditya Rawal, younger son of Paresh Rawal and Swaroop Sampat is keeping his cool before the debut of 'The Queen', a historical play written by him. As the play readies for its stage debut in New York (where he has studied) in June, the 24-year-old talks about family and his love for writing.
Swaroop Sampat and Paresh Rawal with their sons Aditya (left) and Anirudha
Q. You belong to a family of actors. What role did they play in your creative choices?
A. My parents have supported me for whatever I chose — be it playing cricket, football or pursuing a career in the arts. Merely watching my parents operate over the years has taught me a lot. My father is incredibly hardworking and tenacious. I greatly admire his humility and respect for his craft. My mother is the most talented person in our family. She is an actor, painter, teacher, writer and a wonderful mother — even if I say so myself. She is constantly exploring new possibilities, even at her age, after having achieved so much. That is inspiring.
Q. Who is your go-to person for advice, mom or dad?
A. Both, depending on the situation.
Q. Is there more pressure, and expectations from you?
A. I will not be surprised if there are expectations, but I don’t bother myself with them. I try to enjoy what I do, and do it the best I can — the rest is not in my hands. If anyone is looking for my parents in my work, it’s their lookout. If one wants to watch Paresh Rawal act, they should go watch him — not someone else. That said, there is more interest in my work than there might have otherwise been, for which I consider myself fortunate. However, my work will have to speak for itself, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Q. Tell us about your first experience of watching your parents perform.
A. My first memory of watching my mother perform was when she played Rukmini, the wife of Lord Krishna. Her poise and vitality on stage is something that I still remember. The stand out memory of my father performing was when he and Mr Naseeruddin Shah acted together in Khel, which was based on Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth. It was an absolute pleasure to watch two incredibly talented actors have fun on stage. Each performance brought out something new and compelling. That’s when I realised that a good play in the hands of an accomplished director and actors is a living thing that shifts and changes constantly.
Q. Why did you choose a historic play (The Queen) for a stage debut?
A. My brother, Anirudha, and I have always been history buffs. We spend hours discussing important historic events and battles. The 16th century was a very interesting period in India. The Mughals were growing stronger and the Rajputs, known for their bravery and do-or-die attitude, suddenly found themselves in an awkward position, where the lone way to survive was to ally with Akbar — something they wouldn’t have imagined doing. The questions I wished to explore are: Where does pragmatism end and cowardice begin? Also, how does one differentiate between bravery in the face of certain defeat, and stupidity?
Q. Writing or acting — what’s your favourite?
A. I love doing both. However, if I had to choose, I’d pick writing. If your job is to wake up in the morning, walk five steps to your desk and tell stories for a living — what more can one ask for?
Q. Would you be keen on getting into commercial films as an actor or writer, or is theatre enough for you?
A. I’m keen on working on anything that interests me, regardless of the medium or whether it is artsy or commercial, both of which are terms that don’t mean much to me. A story is either compelling, or it’s not. I think that is the only consideration.