Since Shekhar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen (1994) brought Saurabh Shukla to Mumbai, the actor has been raring to get back to his first love — theatre. Now, the opportunity has come almost two decades later and Shukla is quite eager.
“I started my career on the stage. My struggling days in Mumbai kept me away from it, but I’ve always kept my ties with theatre — watching plays and even helping people with playwriting and translation. Just like you can’t forget cycling or swimming, you can’t forget acting in theatre. I hope it goes well,” he says.
Shukla is directing and even playing the central character in Ashvin Gidwani Productions’ Two To Tango Three To Jive. It revolves around Parminder Singh’s (Shukla) life journey and how he deals with the proverbial mid-crisis.
Ask him if he went through one and the 49-year-old says, “Of course. I don’t know if women even go through it, but every man does — he just wakes up one day and starts questioning his life. All men try to fight it and do something new and radical — like have an affair. In my case, I quit smoking and then started again. In the play, the protagonist tries to get into illegitimate relationships to break his life’s monotony.”
The play also features Nigaar Khan, Mona Wasu and Preiti Mamgain. With three women vying for his attention on stage, it wouldn’t be so bad, right? “On the contrary, they are the ones that make my life hell. Men and women don’t think alike. So when I showed them this play, they had a completely different take. They didn’t understand my perspective. So this play offers a bit from both sides. It has all the ingredients of a popular, massy production,” he says, adding that they have been improvising for almost two years now.
Up next, Shukla’s looking forward to Barfi!, where he plays a cop chasing Ranbir Kapoor. Then there is Jolly LLB and his own film, I Am 24, which features 48-year old actor Rajat Kapoor as a 20-something. He says, “I play a judge in Jolly LLB. I think it’s the first time that a judge is shown as a human being rather than just a character with a hammer.”