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There's no theatre versus cinema, says Shyam Benegal

Veteran actress Sushma Seth's book Stageplay - The Journey of An Actor was released by eminent filmmaker, Shyam Benegal in the capital. Here's a tête-à-tête with the multiple award winning director.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2010 13:21 IST
Sonakshi Babbar
Sonakshi Babbar
Hindustan Times

Veteran actress Sushma Seth's book Stageplay - The Journey of An Actor was released by eminent filmmaker Shyam Benegal, at the Sri Ram Centre on August 13. Here's a tête-à-tête with the multiple award winning director of films like Kalyug, Junoon and Well Done Abba.

You have known Sushma Seth for a very long time. Tell us something about your association with her as an actress. Sushma and I have known each other for many years. Her film career started with one of my films way back in 1978. She is a very talented actress and has had a very illustrious film career. In Junoon, which was her first film, she gave a wonderful performance. Later on in Kalyug, she played Shashi Kapoor's mother. The film was loosely based on Mahabharat and she played the Kunti figure to perfection. That was one of her most outstanding performance.

Shyam BenegalSince you have come to release Sushma Seth's book, what are your expectations?

Well to be honest, I haven't read about the book, I wish I had got it earlier, then I could have talked about it better. It's a book about her experiences, about theater. My association with her is largely on the level of films. She has done a lot of theatre too, though I am afraid I know very little of it.

Now, coming back to you as a director, tell us about the reception of Well Done Abba at the London Film Festival?

The reception was great! The film was very well-received at whichever festival it went to. I was actually a bit surprised as I thought it's such an Indian subject, I was not quite sure that it would get such an exceptional response.

You have made films for a long time now, what do you have to say about the theatre versus cinema debate?
Is there a versus? I don't think there's a versus. Theatre is one kind of form and cinema another. Cinema uses technology which makes it different. But for actors it's not relevant how the relay happens, it's just matter of orientation. Either you are a film actor or a theatre actor. The difference between the two performing arts matters more to directors i.e. people like me. A theatre director and a cinema director are two different kinds of people because the kinds of responsibilities differ slightly.

How is it that after making mainly art films for years, now you have moved slightly towards the mainstream cinema?
People can give whatever labels they want, I have always made the kind of films I want whatever people may call it.

Are you working on some new projects?
I have got a couple of projects but I hate talking about projects in the pipeline because once you talk about films you haven't made, it seems as if you have already done it and the enthusiasm fades. So I don't talk about it.

First Published: Aug 14, 2010 11:44 IST