He’s an actor-writer-director who has dabbled equally well in films and theatre. His multifaceted roles have won the praise of the audience, yet Saurabh Shukla, says, “It has never been about the right career move or what people think.”
Focussing on the quality of work, rather than the quantity, since Bandit Queen (1994), Shukla says, “My job is to work - be it films or theatre. The things which come along in the baggage, don’t matter to me... I am so
un- organised that I don’t even have the script of the plays I wrote when I had just started working.”
One might think how he dons so many hats together? “From outside when you look at it, it seems like many jobs. I am in the field of creativity and arts and I am just doing that. My focus is on writing, direction and acting, all.”
So what is closer to his heart? “In theatre it’s acting, in television writing, and in cinema it’s direction,” says Shukla, quite inimitably.
Speaking on the transition that Hindi cinema has undergone in the years, he says , “I am glad to be a part of the first generation of that change.We became part of moments that created history like Bandit Queen(1994), or becoming a part of Satya(1998) which I also penned. In 80’s and early 90’s, only one kind of films were being made and every other film was discarded. My generation came up with new ideas, it was tough, we all struggled a lot as we wanted to tell new stories. Today there is no dearth of new kind of films. Stories are the same. But the new narrative is a great thing. I am happy with most of the films I am doing,” says Shukla, who will soon be seen in Jolly LLB2.
Though born in Gorakhpur, Shukla says Delhi holds a special place for him. “I have wonderful memories of Delhi. I was two years old when I came here and have no recollection of my birthplace. Delhi has carved my psyche in my growing up years. My schooling, graduation, theatre all happened in Delhi. I am thankful that I had the chance to be in the city and grown as an artist,” he says.
Having been art of crossover movies such as Slumdog Millionaire, he doesn’t mind experimenting with a Hollywood TV series or film in future. “Of course, why not! It’ll be great to do a foreign series or a film. Language doesn’t matter to me, the thought behind it does,” he says.
Having recently performed in Gurgaon as part of his play 2 to tango, 3 to Jive, he’s all geared up to be part of the play Barff, which will be staged in October. “Gurgaon is an ultra-modern city. I have performed at Epicentre and the Patio Club and love the audience here. It’s always wonderful to perform in places which are fairly new since the audience reacts differently.”
Ratna Pathak Shah in an interview to HT said that Delhi has lost interest in theatre. When we asked Shukla, he said, “Although less in number, but theatre has a very attentive audience. All over the world, artists complain their art is not being taken seriously. I understand that theatre can’t be in everyone’s reach also because effort is required from the audience to come out of their houses and travel to theatres that can accommodate 1500 people, whereas a film is seen by crores, across the country, on TV. It is important to understand, that when they come to watch a play, they are almost there. In cinema, about 50 per cent people are attentive. In television, the percentage comes down to 70-80. So, theatre has more dedicated audience than any other art form.”