Parsi-Gujarati play —Pakar Maari Poochri — will be staged on coming Sunday at Nehru Memorial Hall at 7 pm. Writer-director Meherzad Patel discusses his play, present and future of Parsi theatre, with Swapnal Tilekar
Q. Why did you choose Pune to launch your latest work?
A. This is my third Parsi-Gujarati venture in the past eight years. Though regional theatres lack much activity, venues like Mumbai and Pune have been our best receivers. We chose to premier this play in Pune as there is a big Parsi-Gujarati population here. Moreover, our last outing received an overwhelming response from the audience. Till the time people show interest in Parsi theatre, and appreciate our work, we are optimistic that the industry will survive.
Striving hard: Writer-director Meherzad Patel said that though regional theatres lack much activity, venues like Mumbai and Pune have been the best receivers for his plays. Patel claims he chose to premiere this play in Pune due to the sizeable Parsi-Gujarati population
Q. Does Parsi theatre lack experimentation? What is the status of companies producing Parsi plays?
A. It is true. There is no experimental or parallel theatre in Parsi. But there is a reason behind this. Our plays are basically performed on the community’s New Year’s Eve i.e. in March/August. On such occasions, people definitely do not want to watch a serious act. So the plays are funny and bright, leaving negligible scope for tackling serious subjects. Also, the scope for experimentation is less here. I’m yet to come across a drama company that produces only Parsi plays. Most of the companies produce either multilingual or English acts. It is not possible to produce only Parsi plays, as we hardly get to stage one or two shows a month. This is not the case with English theatre. Hence, one has to play along.
Q. What kind of audiences do your plays attract?
A. We aim to entice young people back to the theatre. So far, we have been successful due to our content. Not only teenagers, even those within the age group of 75-80 attend our plays. The acts are not restricted to Parsi or Gujarati speaking audience. Owing to the simplicity of the language and portrayal of colourful characters, our audience comprises of Bohris, Sindhis and Hindi-speaking population.
Q. How do you go about your scripts?
A. I try to keep it simple and funny. My audience should connect with onstage jokes. If I cannot laugh at my own lines while writing, then even the spectators won’t. I also need to watch the language. Though there is much scope for adult humour, none of the audience members should get offended by it. In real life, a Parsi loves to abuse but you need to maintain the serenity of the script.
Q. Do you see Parsi theatre getting any bigger?
A. Due to the limited Parsi population, we have no choice but to display our art at limited places. We get huge response in Mumbai and Pune. We have even performed internationally. But you can’t have a show in places like Assam, Guwahati or Kolkata. Let’s accept it; we have a limited audience.