Anupam Kher's one-actor autobiographical play ‘Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai' completes 200 shows on January 3. The actor talks about the impact the play has had on his life.
Your autobiographical one-man play ‘Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai' completes 200 shows. How does it feel? Even today, I am very nervous before each show; and, particularly so, before the 200th show. I don't eat on the day I perform. I keep working on my lines, and I avoid meeting people. But, the way the play opens puts the audience and me at ease.
What is the show's USP?
Everybody in the audience sees a part of their life, in the slice of my life. They see their dreams, their passion and tales of their first love. Most importantly, I celebrate failure in the play. A chunk of the play has me laughing about my failures, and yet the audience see me as a successful person.
Is it difficult to revisit pain?
Feroz's (director Feroz Khan) brief to me was: ‘Each time you do the play, revisit every single incident, painful and otherwise, with heartfelt emotion.'
But doesn't the constant stoking of pain get to you; or is it cathartic?
It is painful. Each time I perform, I feel emotionally drained. But, it also makes me feel like the tallest man on earth, because the world uses your shortcomings as a means of frightening you. But this play has liberated me — it has completely taken away the fear of failure from me.
When was the play first staged?
June 8, 2003.
Why did you choose to tell your life story via a play?
I have the habit of telling the story of my life in a funny vein. Ashok Patole, a comic writer, wrote the first draft of the play. Later, Feroz wrote it, and we had material for a five-hour play, and Feroz trimmed it. I rehearsed for two-and-a-half months. The evening prior to the premiere, I held a dress rehearsal of sorts for the Sophia college girls and teachers. It was a disaster, nobody laughed. I told Feroz: ‘Let's cancel it'. But, by then, we had invited the whole industry. In the play, we had references to a lot of stars, including Dilip saab, Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda — we had invited all of them. We had also invited Jayaji, Anil Ambani, my parents, my friends…
I was feeling very lonely. It was raining heavily. I thought: ‘This is curtains for your career, Mr. Kher'. Even at other times, I get very nervous on stage, but that day, I was doubly nervous. It was not one of those well-crafted plays adapted from Miller or Williams; we were on untested ground. Reassuringly, the initial punches went off very well. By interval, I felt it was the greatest thing that had happened to me. After showering me with compliments, Mr. Bachchan and Anil Ambani took me out for dinner.
You have performed in the Gulf, Australia, Singapore, and almost every major American city. Do you find an Indian audience everywhere?
It's an Asian audience all over. I have received standing ovations each time.
Usually, on stage, actors draw energy and cues from each other. But in your play, you are the only actor. How do you manage?
I draw energy from my audience. From the 200 shows, only one show at Atlanta had a non-responsive audience. I stopped the play, after half an hour, and said: ‘Let's do an exercise called ‘How To Laugh'. And, that did the trick.
Have you stuck to the same play or do you improvise it? It's the same play. I stick to the script.
Do you ever think of yourself in the third person?
No; I am the same person, overall. I have the strength to be myself despite coming to a city that changes you completely.
And, what has remained unchanged about you?
My ability to laugh at my failures.
Bollywood News Service