The pull of theatre

Published: Nov 06, 2012, 06:21 IST | Deepali Dhingra |

It's that time of the year again when the iconic Prithvi Theatre Festival is on and when CS met him, Kunal Kapoor was all over the place, shouting instructions and getting things done.

As he settles down for a candid chat, Kunal, who took over from sister Sanjna Kapoor last year, says that’s he’s excited about putting up the festival after a gap of two years:

Kunal Kapoor
Who: Kunal Kapoor
What: On theatre and its reach 
PIC/ Santosh Nagwekar 

Developments, not differences!
The media loves to ask if something went wrong between Sanjna and me. Culturally, we have two equally important and respected stories in our national heritage. One is the Mahabharata which is about family feud and the other is the Ramayana where the brothers stick together. Now, everyone seems to think Mahabharata first. Why not Ramayana? What Sanjna and I have done is a natural progression because theatre is not a profession for us, it’s a passion. There is so much more that needs to be done about making theatre a part of everyone’s lives. A lot more needs to be done with schools and with kids and Sanjna is doing that. It’s just a division of things, and I see it as a development.

Giving back
If I really wanted to make Prithvi into a profit-making venture, I would have turned it into some commercial centre. But is that what we really need? Isn’t Mumbai city a classic example of how purely profit-oriented activities end up destroying your own city, your own life? Look at the quality of life we have here! Things have to move beyond profit. Cities in Europe have parks, theatres, exhibition halls and art galleries that are so important for a healthy environment. One cannot run one’s life purely driven by profit. When I see audiences enjoy themselves and theatre groups and actors enjoy performing here, that is my profit.

Theatre pulls you back
The single most important thing I find exciting these days is that younger audience is coming to theatre. It’s becoming part of their ‘things to do in the evening’ list, which I find superb. Similarly with actors — a lot of young actors are working in theatre and that's all they want to do. They’re driven by their passon for acting. Acting on theatre is always a stuggle anywhere in the world as it’s not a hugely profitable profession unless you become a star on television and come back. What’s sad is if you never come back to theatre. I read somewhere that Om Puri is coming back to theatre after 20 years. I want to ask him why so late! He should have returned much earlier.  

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