The outsider's view
"Theatre is my lifeline, I can't let go of it ever," well-known English playwright Mahesh Dattani told CS when we caught up with him recently.
Even though Mahesh admits that this is the right time for him to get back to making films (he made Morning Raga in 2003), theatre is a passion that refuses to diminish. His latest play that debuts tomorrow, deals with his observations about the big, fat city called Mumbai. Mahesh gave us an insight into how words transform into stories:
I moved to Mumbai seven years ago from Bangalore and I still have an outsider's perspective. A couple of years back, I was speaking to Ashvin Gidwani, with whom I share a great rapport, and I told him about my observations. I said that I would like to write a play about it, a black comedy, something different from my usual style which leans towards drama. It's a very today kind of play. Couples in their mid to late 20s, who're going up the corporate ladder but not really up there. They buy apartments, taking loans and paying heavy EMIs. But what happens when they lose their jobs? There are aspiring actors, fading stars, traditional Gujarati accountants among others. These people are living a very tenuous life, at least financially. What happens to them when they get an opportunity to get some money, what are the values they lose and retain in the process.
All shades of grey
None of my plays have characters that are black or white, they all have shades of grey. That's what I feel human life is about. Even if we do something immoral by society standards, there could be reasons why we do it and those could be very humane reasons. That's part of nature and human existence and that's something I like to explore.
Shout out loud-er!
I've been writing plays since 1985. And I see a marked change in the way people view theatre. Earlier, we had to do personal marketing by calling friends. I've done theatre in Bangalore where we used to go in a tempo with people dressed up in costumes to attract attention and get audiences for a show. And now of course, with social networking sites, things are easier. But you also have to shout a little louder because there are so many voices, and culturally also as a society, we're all growing a little deaf. It's all about volume. The good thing is that young people are coming to theatre now. In my days, the average age was 30-35, but now I see people in their late teens and early 20s too.