Chat Akarsh Khurana on his play ‘The Interview'
The director of The Interview , Akarsh Khurana says the play stems from contemporary Indian corporate culture in the best possible way — firsthand!
Is there a broader social commentary on contemporary Indian corporate culture that underlies the dark humour in The Interview?
The play is a result of a corporate experience that Siddharth went through for a while, at a company where I also worked briefly, around the same time. So, it stems from contemporary Indian corporate culture in the best possible way — firsthand. I think Siddharth started off writing a piece that was a funny take on some of the bizarre things that happen in an office, as a result of politics and the feeding order. So, while the play doesn't aim to have this message or opinion, it is there in the premise and the plot, but not blatantly, and is completely open to interpretation.
What are some of the challenges of working within the ‘black comedy' genre?
The Interview is in itself a hilarious script for most part. The darkness lurks unobtrusively beneath and builds gradually. But, it appealed to me as much as the wit. I needed, as director, to make both aspects work, without rubbing anyone's face in it. I think a subject that makes you laugh, but effortlessly makes you a tad uneasy and reflective at the same time, is a true and effective dark comedy; where one, however fleetingly, questions one's laughter. Achieving this is not easy, because there is always the danger of being too intense or too flippant, which just lands up playing false.
The Interview walked away with several honours at the recent Mahindra Excellence Theatre Awards. What about the play do you think has struck a chord with critics and audiences alike?
I think what the play has going for it the most is that anyone and everyone can relate to it. Everyone in modern India is in contact with the corporate world, directly or otherwise. And, it is driven to a large extent by ambition, a need for power, and the insecurity that stems from these. These are universal concepts. So people connect. It also helps that Sid's voice is very today. It's how you and I speak. So it becomes even more accessible. As for the love it has received from critics, I think it's because it has very good writing — one of the smartest scripts I've worked on — with some excellent performances, and a simple but effective and sharp design.