In focus Theatre is like a spiritual gym where you flex your intellectual muscles, says Mita Vashisht
A rising intolerance to a conflicting point of view can be attributed, to a great extent, to the fact that the space for performing arts has diminished, says actor-director Mita Vashisht. “There's no debate, you don't question yourself or values, you don't ruminate…the only group left then, is hooligans,” she says.
A graduate of the National School of Drama (NSD), she's performed her much-acclaimed solo play Lal Ded (based on life of medieval Kashmiri mystic Lal Ded) consistently since 2004. Mita believes “theatre keeps me free-flowing and clean”. She's been travelling to perform in Lilette Dubey's production of August: Osage County . She's been teaching techniques amalgamated through her theatre experience at some of the country's premier design, film and theatre institutes — NIFT (Delhi), FTII (Pune), NSD (Delhi) and the NID (Ahmedabad). “Theatre is the most democratic space for differences to be celebrated. I love performing live to audience… it's like a spiritual gym where you fine tune and flex your intellectual muscles,” she grins her wide grin.
But, for a lot of television-soap lovers, she may simply be the mean face of Trishna from Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki . Or for those whose memory goes way back nostalgically to the Doordarshan days, one may remember that unconventional voice and face from Space City Sigma, Bharat Ek Khoj, Swabhimaan . Wouldn't she have been happier coming into films and TV now, when “unconventional” is the norm? “I was a bit of a clairvoyant… I knew even then, when I started out at 20, that what I really wanted to do will happen much later,” she says. “At the same time, when we came into the field, TV was still at its best,” she adds, referring to her films like Drohkaal or Siddheshwari .”
She's recently made a docu-feature, She of The Four Names , on Lal Ded again, for the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) — her film directorial debut. “There's a huge difference between doing a play and a film on the same subject. The exploration is very different in theatre, which combines your intuitive, intellectual and emotional self.” She also recently directed a play with young actors for the Short+Sweet Festival. “It's great to move from doing interesting work to reinventing oneself and being offered exciting work with youngsters,” she smiles.