“Theatre can never be like cinema,” says Lillete Dubey, who has explored both the mediums. From playing a serious role in Zubeidaa (2001) to a spunky part in Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), the actor has proved her versatility with every character. Dubey has been active in the theatre scene for 40 years and has entertained audiences with her directorial ventures such as Dance Like A Man and August: Osage County.
“My soul lies in theatre,” says the actor, as she talks to HT Café about the difference between theatre and films, and the importance of social media.
What changes have you seen in theatre in the last four decades?
I have been involved with theatre since the past 40 years now. It’s changed in many ways and in many ways it hasn’t. Theatre will always be a slightly more niche medium. It is not a mass medium. This fact will never change. I had done theatre for 20 years before I did my first film and then suddenly people told me, ‘Oh! You’re such a good actor and I said what? I have been acting for 20 years’. However, more people are watching plays now and that’s heartening. From street to commercial plays - all kinds of theatre are taking place these days.
Would you say your experience in cinema has been as enriching as the one in theatre?
Yes and no. I’m biased, as my heart and soul lies in theatre. I have always called myself an ‘accidental film actress’. Whether it was a big film like The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015) or a small one like My Brother… Nikhil (2005), I had a blast doing it. Films taught me my craft in a different way. Actors are always larger than life on stage. In cinema, everything has to be subtle. I also thank cinema as I got to work with wonderful actors such as Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Judi Dench, etc.There’s always been a talk about pay disparity between male and female actors in Bollywood.
Watch: A scene from Best Exotic Marigold Hotel featuring Lillete Dubey
What is the scene like in theatre?
Theatre is completely democratic. You have to leave all that star nonsense at the doorstep. There is no hierarchy here. The only pay disparity that exists is between a senior theatre actor and a junior one. A senior actor would be paid more than a junior actor. But that’s not gender based. The senior theatre artist could be a woman and the junior one could be a man.
How much of a role does social media play in promoting theatre?
I think social media is important for theatre artistes because we don’t have big budgets like films. Young theatre artistes, who can’t depend on ads, completely depend on social media to publicise their plays.
You will be a part of Serendipity Arts Festival this year…
This year we should do a play writing workshop as writing for plays is a specialised skill.