Ratna Pathak goes behind the camera

The talented actress adds that she had been looking out for something that excited her and lo, she got an opportunity to direct the adaptation of Lee Blessing’s powerful play A Walk In The Woods, with none other than Rajit Kapur and her hubby Naseeruddin Shah. “It’s half my work done with such talented actors,” she laughs. Ratna speaks to CS about her directorial debut and blending the personal with the professional:

Who: Ratna Pathak Shah
What: Her debut as a theatre director
Where: At a play rehearsal in Juhu

The larger picture
The kind of concentration required as an actor and as director are two different things. You have to train yourself to think of everything as a larger picture. I have been watching rehearsals since long for our theatre group and I take rehearsals when Naseer is not there. So it’s not completely new for me. How good or bad I am, I will get to know once the play opens.

Exploring murky areas
I think Faisal Rashid and Randeep Hooda have done a great job of adapting the play. The Indo-Pak context fits in very beautifully. But there is a significant difference too. America and USSR were sworn enemies. We’re not. We’re the same, we just got divorced. There isn’t hate as it is in the other context. There is a very different kind of resentment, baggage of the past, need for self-assertion — all these murky areas exist and had to be explored.

What a break!
If I was working with amateur actors and had to construct performances, that would have taken a lot from me. I don’t know if I would have been able to do that. Here, I’m just helping mould two people who already know what they’re doing. I couldn’t have asked for a better break.

The personal takes over
I think the personal must cross into everything we do. Even the play suggests that the personal must cross into the political. It’s only recently that we’ve been separating the personal and professional. There’s always a give and take, and in the arts, where groups, live together, travel together, the personal and professional are constantly blending. I discovered that when I was in NSD, where much of the personal contributes to the professional. Why would I want to disconnect the two? We’re always taking work home. Everyone is in the same job after all. The personal and the professional have been blending very well for the last 30 years. Aage bhi ho jayega.

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