TABLE FOR TWO Darshan Jariwala on what he is up to in the worlds that he straddles — theatre, filmdom and telly
Lunch time and you are in an Italian-only eatery in Delhi. Well, you certainly scold yourself for not doing your homework, but it's too late now. Your mealtime guest is at the entry of the eatery — Caramelo at Hans Plaza. You only wish that he won't mind a menu card packed with pastas and pestos. A spin of luck works and the man of the moment — Darshan Jariwala — announces, “Of all the international cuisines, I like Italian the most. Then of course, Mexican; this is because these cuisines are so close to Indian food.” Well, you can't avoid grinning a bit wider than needed here!
With day-time Delhi heating up now, Jariwala goes for the ideal drink, lemonade. The conversation begins on expected lines. So what does he think of the plays featured at the META festival? Jariwala is here as part of a jury that has just decided this year's Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards. The veteran of Mumbai's vibrant Gujarati theatre comments, “There was a diversity of plays and I would say that while one was judging them, one was being judged too. I also feel that a lot more attention should be given to the initial screening of entries.” Happy that theatre is getting corporate support through this festival, he adds, beaming, “Next time, I would like to come to META as a participant. I would really enjoy being judged by a panel of peers.”
Alongside the job at hand, Jariwala has also squeezed in a daily jaunt to the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon where rehearsals are in full swing for “Jhumroo”, a musical he has scripted on the life of the legendary Kishore Kumar. “I was a part of the directorial team of the first musical there, ‘Zangoora'. Come end-March-April-beginning, I will be there as a scriptwriter,” he says with much relish.
With the arms of the clock announcing two in the afternoon, the actor, often praised for his role of Gandhi in Feroz Abbas Khan's film Gandhi My Father , ticks his soup of choice — minestrone. Soon arrives the hot broth. And he is quick to note, “Quite good”. The chat streams back to his work. Though he straddles three creative fields — theatre, film and the telly, it is not far into the conversation that Jariwala mentions, “I don't have any favourite among the three though. I always believe that the day I can't bring myself to give my best shot, it is time to quit that role. So theatre, films or tele-serials, I use the same theory.” This theory also makes him pretty choosy about roles. “I really don't want to be that quintessential character actor in Bollywood,” he remarks, adding, “I have just completed playing a role in Save Your Legs , an Australian film by an independent filmmaker. It will do a round of the international festivals.”
Done with the soup, it is time to order the main course. Jariwali settles for a chicken salad. And before long comes to the table a healthy helping of greens and veggies with chunks of roasted chicken. Digging into it, he catches the thread of the conversation, yet again. This time it is about dropping a lot of weight to fit into the role of Gandhi for the Feroz Khan film, which also ran on stage with Jariwala in the main role.
“In about 10 weeks, I lost 16 kgs. My trainer Abhisekh Sharma put me on a diet regime similar to that of a marathon runner. He helped me lose weight but gain stamina at the same time.” But the role demanded not just dropping weight but “bringing a balance between body and mind.” So he signed up for a two-week meditation bout at a Vipassana centre. “That helped me so much,” he says. However, he notes, “My weight loss was closely monitored but not my weight gain after the film; it caused some damage of my body, my metabolism is very low. I am working on it though.”
Next in line is “possibly a Sanjay Gadhvi film,” he adds. Having made his entry into the world of entertainment through Gujarati theatre, the chat seamlessly swerves towards it. And he notes, “Gujarati theatre has always been very family oriented, this has made it very limited. But it is nice to see some new things happening in it within the bracket of their commercial viability. Some good actors have come from Ahmedabad, so there is hope.”
A lot of Gujarati theatre actors are in Hindi serials today. Jariwala reacts, “These actors can do without television; they earn good money from these plays but it is the television that gives them popularity.”
With time ticking by, it is only natural that the chat ends. But not before Jariwala declares himself “a flexi-tarian.” “This means, be it any part of the world I shall not go hungry.”
Well, if arises a second chance to take out this play great, you now jolly well know that you don't have to do your homework!
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY