Sami here, not Dubey!
It will be an understatement to say that Satyadev Dubey had a huge impact on theatre actor, director and light designer Hidayat Sami.
Sami’s worked for 20 years with Dubey, the theatre veteran who passed away last year, leaving behind a huge legacy. Many years back, he wrote a play Sambhog Se Sanyaas Tak, that was translated in English later by Dubey himself. Now, Sami has revived Dubey’s theatre group and is also staging The Magic Pill on the occasion of Dubey’s birth anniversary tomorrow. He spoke to CS about the bold play, reviving the theatre group and the reactions of the theatre fraternity:
As bold as it gets
I’m fascinated that Dubeyji wrote this play in the early 70s. To have a play where a girl stands up in court and admits to having sex because she wanted to experience it, was a huge deal in those days, and at many places even now, it still is. When I acted in the play, I was very new and so, followed Dubeyji’s instructions blindly. Now after seeing it after so many years, I questioned some things and made decisions to edit it accordingly.
The spoken word is king
I worked with Dubeyji for 20 years. I don’t know how much of him is in me but like him, I do try and keep production simple, relying more on actors than on props. Dubeyji gave a lot of importance to the spoken word and the manner in which it was spoken. So much so, that sometimes it looked as if the actors are doing speech exercises on stage, where every single word was chewed. Times have changed now. The way the audience reacts has changed. Today, even badly spoken language is understood. That does not mean we haven’t paid attention to the spoken word. All the actors have worked really hard on the play.
I’m not Dubey!
Most people in this play are my contemporaries. There has been an 80-20 feedback to reviving the theatre group. While 80 per cent people have been supportive of us, there are some who are skeptical of it. They have even gone on to ask me ‘Who do you think you are, Dubey?’ My answer to such people is that no, I’m not Dubey. A Dubey happens once in a 100 or 200 years. I was a student of his and this is my way of paying tribute to him. I want to keep alive his legacy and see that his approach is carried through, even when I’m not there.