She may have a successful Bollywood career, but actress Lillete Dubey insists that theatre is her first love. “Theatre nourishes me the most, and I am clear that I have to do it — it’s my top agenda. Films are always secondary or, at best, running parallel,” she says, adding that she finds juggling between the two effortless. “I often say that I am an accidental film actor. I still don’t have a secretary,” she adds humbly.
Dubey’s latest offering is a play called Brief Candle, which she has produced as well as directed. The play, the proceeds of which will go to Genesis Foundation to support the treatment of critically ill children, is by renowned playwright Mahesh Dattani, and features actors Suchitra Pillai, Joy Sengupta, Manasi Parekh, and others. Says Dubey, “I never like simple plays or things. This is a sort of play within a play. It’s sort of tragicomic.” Of course, Dubey’s ambitions are larger than the success of just this play. “Setting up my own theatre company was with the intention of building up our own body of work so that younger directors can have some original work instead of adapting other people’s work. We primarily do English theatre with an Indian voice. I always tell Mira Nair that my plays were precursors to her film Monsoon Wedding because that’s what the film does too.”
The actress says that although she “enjoys cinema a lot”, she doesn’t want to “duplicate” herself. “After Zubeidaa, I got lots of offers. Somebody even said, ‘You’ll become the next Aruna Irani’, and I told that person I had no desire to become Aruna Irani!” she quips.
So does the veteran if she feels there’s any difference between the theatre scene in Delhi and Mumbai, and pat comes the reply, “The theatre culture in Delhi is not such an organic part of the local ethos, which is hugely different from Maharashtra.”
Brief Candle will be shown at Kamani Auditorium, Delhi on Saturday October 24th and at Epicentre Auditorium, Apparel House, Gurgaon on Sunday October 25th. There will be 2 shows on both days — at 5 pm and 7.30 pm.