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Of fighter planes and musicians

Three questions with Actor, writer, director Milind Pathak

Q. How is the response to the latest version of the play, White Lily Aani Night Rider as it recently staged its 100th performance?
A. I am feeling jubilant for the way people have received it. It had all started from a single thought that popped in my mind few years ago. I am feeling nostalgic as I remember the days when Rasika and I had conceptualised it together. Now, when I see people belonging to all sorts of age groups — right from 18 to 80 — enjoying and appreciating the play. The efforts seem to be have been paid off well.

Pathak acted and directed the play, as seen above with Sonali Kulkarni
Pathak acted and directed the play, as seen above with Sonali Kulkarni 

The success of a play comes in the form of the audience response. As the concept of the play focusses on online dating and questions the institution of marriage; we were open to all sorts of reactions. But fortunately, people are not at all angry with the portrayal. This means success for our play. For me, it was my 300th performance that I staged yesterday (the old version of play had completed 200 performances earlier); but I still feel the excitement every time I go on stage.

Q. How do you find Sonali Kulkarni’s White Lily compared to late Rasika Joshi’s portrayal?
A. Sonali has done complete justice to the role. Undoubtedly, she had the pressure of portraying the character which was been essayed by a veteran actor like Rasika Joshi. But she has done it well. She is known for putting her hundred percent in whatever role she plays whether it’s a film or theatre.

She always prepares meticulously for a role as she also did for the role, White Lily. She is a big fan of Rasika, hence, she keeps saying that even she cannot match Rasika’s footsteps, yet she cannot afford to disappoint her audience too. Also, Sonali is returning to theatre after more than a decade’s time. Hence, it is a good opportunity for the audience to see her performing on stage after a long gap.

Q. The play has been staged abroad. Plus, it has also been enacted in Hindi as well as English. Is this variation intended to attract a wider set of audience?
A. We recently staged the play at Marathi Sahitya Sammelan in Europe and the response from the international audience was amazing. The NRIs settled there told us how they got to know several unknown things about India. Such things should be done more often. It is a different zeal when an art form receives recognition globally.

We have also adapted the play in Hindi and English, which we recently staged at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai. We got a fully packed theatre on both the occasions. This is a win-win situation for a good script. It is a myth that theatre has lost its audience. I don’t believe when they say plays do not work anymore.

NEXT PERFORMANCE By the end of the month.

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