For somebody who didn’t go to any theatre or movie institute to study the artwork of appearing, being appointed as chairperson of the celebrated National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi has come as a “very pleasant surprise”. Veteran actor Paresh Rawal, whose appointment was introduced by the President final week, says the information got here like a breath of contemporary air in these corona-ridden occasions, when nearly each trade and career has suffered a extreme setback.
“For any artiste, big or small, the future looks bleak, and this situation, if one were to look at things conservatively, is likely to continue till February-March. Of course, the optimist in me would say ‘kal parson khatam ho jayega’, but we’d be living in a fool’s paradise to imagine that the end of Covid-19 is just round the corner,” says the 65-year-old Padma Shri awardee. Rawal’s been essaying his roles of an actor and a politician — he was a Member of Parliament within the Lok Sabha from 2014-2019 (“but politics and political affiliations must be kept away from art”) — with appreciable ease. But, on a constructive word, he perks up, “Covid aa jaye, cholera aa jaye, live entertainment will never go out of style.”
Still in Mumbai — given the “sad situation of the way the virus is spreading here” — Rawal plans to get to Delhi for the four-year stint as early as potential. “I am raring to go,” says the seasoned actor. And he refuses to be intimidated by the truth that he might be doing administrative work for the primary time. “I am already working towards having a good team, starting with an excellent director, of like-minded people to give shape to my plans and our collective vision for theatre.”
And considered one of these contains taking theatre to each metropolis of India. “NSD must not be restricted only to Delhi. We must have similar institutes in other cities, too, for not every talented person — like say Manoj Bajpayee or Irrfan Khan — has the means to come to NSD,” states Rawal. There was a time, he recollects, when within the early 1970s, many children like him learnt about NSD solely when Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Pankaj Kapoor blazed onto the movie firmament. “Now more awareness needs to spread and we must also connect with universities and colleges to offer our talented force, even in the remote regions, a platform to hone their talent and skills,” he provides.
Good theatre, too, must journey to each Indian metropolis. “We need to expose audiences to plays that make them think,” says the actor. And whereas the theatre-going crowd possibly mature and censorship will not be required, a certain quantity of self-restraint is crucial whereas exercising inventive freedom,” says the NSD chief who’s presently engaged on three performs. “The moment the lockdown is lifted, I shall get onto the stage with them,” smiles the veteran actor who has all the time garnered rave opinions not only for his work in Marathi and Gujarati theatre, but additionally in movies with a repertoire that ranges from industrial fare, together with Mohra and Hera Pheri on the one hand, and critically acclaimed films similar to Woh Chokri and Sardar on the opposite. Those who’ve seen him essay the position of the Iron Man of India wouldn’t be stunned to study that Sardar figures in his checklist of private favourites — the others being Road to Sangam, Mumbai Meri Jaan and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
Straddling the worlds of theatre and movies — and doing them effectively — is all a results of ardour. “Sab balance ho jata hai. In fact, you can pack in a lot more if you have the will,” he smiles. And though all his roles, many might argue, appear tailored for him, Rawal says he by no means permits himself to take any of his characters evenly. “More so, when you always seem to be pitted against a superb, bright crop of actors, but isi mein to mazaa hai,” he smiles, speaking about Nawazuddin Siddiqui (“uska to kya kehna”), Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi, amongst many others. “Working with them is like a wake-up call each time — it reminds you to always keep pulling up your socks”.
While as regards to vivid younger actors, he mentions Sushant Singh Rajput, “such a talented youngster who’s gone too soon”. Impressed along with his work in movies similar to Kai Po Che! and Sonchiriya notably, Rawal remembers his temporary assembly with Rajput not too far again. “Even in those 15 or so minutes that we chatted, he came across as very bright and positive, with a philosophical approach to life.”
Self-made actors similar to him are to be admired, says Rawal, whose brush with theatre began in 1972 when he was barely 17. “Just watching good Marathi and Gujarati theatre helped me make a start. Soon after I got onto the stage, I started picking up the nuances not just of acting but also of direction, lighting and stage-setting,” he states.
He remembers, “Back then, the maahaul of Marathi and Gujarati theatre scene was very vibrant and motivating — with people like Girish Karnad, among many others, at the helm”. And when Prithvi Theatre got here up in 1978, “it became Kashi, Mecca, Medina for theatre aficionados like us”. That is why, he stresses, whereas movies and web-series might rule the roost in these occasions of Covid-19, theatre will bounce again, for, “there’s nothing like performing live in front of an engaging audience”.