Makrand “Mak” Deshpande is easily one of the most creative and prolific playwrights in Hindi today—his plays move from interpreting mythology to understanding contemporary life.
His latest play Karodon Mein Ek opened on New Year’s Eve and has carried on into the new year.
You weren’t too active in 2006, how so?
In terms of plays I was active, it’s just that the frequency of performances was less. I did the Sir Sir Sarla Trilogy, Dhoni Dho Dalta Hai, Sakharam Ki Khoj Mein Hawaldar and now Karodon Mein Ek. I have another play S2G2 ready to roll.
So why was the frequency less?
I got fewer dates at Prithvi Theatre and I don’t like to perform outside Prithvi.
Because I love the space, I became a writer-director there. All my plays have opened at Prithvi.
Aren’t you limiting your audience by doing this?
I am (laughs). South Bombay people complain that they don’t see my plays, and I say, wait, I will be there soon. But, you know, the economics of big theatres are different.
I would be hampered by commercial considerations. Do your plays ever recover costs?
If I decided to make money from theatre, I could. I would have no problems getting sponsors. A bit of money does come back because I have started travelling out of the city with my plays. Last year, I took Sir, Sir Sarla to Jaipur, Sa Hi Besura to Guwahati and Ek Kadam Aage to Delhi.
How would you describe your new play Karodon Mein Ek?
As a very human play, and in keeping with my recent works, it’s simple too. I want people to understand my plays now and not wonder what they are all about. It’s about a family that faces a crisis falls when the father loses his memory. I am also excited about working with actors like Yashpal Sharma and Kishore Kadam.
What is your next play S2G2 about? And what does the rather cryptic title signify?
It’s about farmers’ suicides. It stands for Siddhartha to Gautama, and I want to examine how in today’s times can we go back to the past. I hope to open this one in February.