‘Artistes should not be fearful’
Not everyday do we find a tired actor take off his shoes and sit cross-legged only to focus on an “intense chat” on Shakespeare and the current scope of theatre in a megalopolis. Neil Bhoopalam, who features in Rajat Kapoor’s Hamlet — The Clown Prince and Macbeth shares, “As my friend once said, it is a privilege to perform Shakespeare on stage.” He finds the plots in such classics particularly gripping and says the challenge lies in doing one’s part well.
According to the actor, this comic adaptation of the play, not having the typical “thee-thy-thou text” was an “exhilarating experience”. As part of The Great Indian Theatre Festival, that brings over 45 plays to nearly 25 Indian cities, Neil will also be seen in A Few Good Men, directed by Nadir Khan. Prod him on about the kind of adaptation, either one where the original script has been retained with the incorporation of stylistic changes or one where it has been reworded and improvised, that helps strike a chord with the audience and he says, “The focus should be on what you want to tell the masses and not just about connecting with them; I believe a director or writer has the liberty to work around a narrative.” Neil goes on to say that since a creator devotes time, energy and perception to a production, the person’s primary area of concern should be narrating the story irrespective of how viewers relate to it.
With regard to the government’s participation in promoting theatre across the country, he suggests that the State must do more to make the stage popular and accessible. “Also, the history of diverse geographies allows us to closely observe structures that let the Arts flourish. That space needs to be preserved. Artistes should not be fearful of presenting their work,” the Shaitan (2011) actor elaborates.
But is there censorship in theatre? To that Neil promptly replies, “Self-censorship has made its way, as you don’t want some entity to harass you.” The actor shares he absolutely loves Mr Bean and the mastery of Buster Keaton and wants to bring back the genre of physical comedy on stage, as the field is capable of freeing one from language constraints. “I hope to develop things to be my own Adam Sandler in some way or the other,” he signs off with a smile.