People's secular mask can peel off with a little prod: Vickram Kapadia

  • Nishtha Juneja, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jun 01, 2015 19:58 IST

How often does the audience remember a theatre production after the shows stopped running for almost a decade? Theatre director Vickram Kapadia's Black With Equal had a successful run from 2002 to 2007. Now, after a gap of eight years, Kapadia is not only reviving the black comedy, but also plans to turn it into a feature film. During one of his rehearsals, he opens up about acting in TV, CinePlay and his favourite playwrights.

Where did you get the inspiration for your play?
Once, during my society's annual general meeting, several topics were being discussed. But, when a religious issue was raised, there was silence. We were treading dangerous territory. I think when people wear a secular mask, you should prod them a little, and then, the thin layer peels off. After getting inspiration from this meeting, I started writing my play in 2001, in early September. A few days later, 9/11 happened. I was on the second page of my script, and I decided to make it a satire. I told myself we need to laugh at ourselves; otherwise it would have been a very serious and dangerous topic.

Why did you think of reviving it?
People kept asking me about the play. The play is back because of popular demand. The issue of communal harmony has become more potent and relevant now.

What is the difference between the earlier and the present versions of the play?
Some references have changed. Earlier, they were used with respect to the 9/11 massacre, now they are pointing to the 26/11 attacks. Utkarsh Majumdar, Dinayar Tirandaz and I play the same characters. The rest of the members have changed. To hold a cast together in a medium that doesn't run your house is difficult.

What do you think of TV actors pursuing theatre?
At least 75% of the TV actors are non-actors, and the rest are bad actors. I feel sorry for some of the brilliant actors on the tube. TV is the most pathetic medium, from screenplay to performances, to the way they create it. There is no space for creativity. It is all about how fast you shoot each episode.

Since theatre doesn't pay well, how does one sustain himself?
You do other stuff, such as act in a film or do voice-over. I am playing an important role in Karan Johar's upcoming film. And since I am acting in it, more people will come to watch the play. One of your plays, Bombay Talkies, was converted into a CinePlay.

What do you think is the reach of the medium?
I think every medium has its own space. CinePlay is a baby. It is a professional documentation of our work.

Do you want to make a CinePlay of your current play?
I am planning to make it into a film. I will be writing and directing it. I am quite kicked about the same.

You have said your favourite playwright is William Shakespeare. What should a director keep in mind when adapting his work?
Adapting is a word used very freely. I may do Shakespeare, but my imagery is modern. I have not changed the language. His words remain intact; imagery is the director's discretion.

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