Changing perspectives


Senior television and film actress Tanaaz Irani is all set to return to the stage after almost a decade with her directorial venture, Selfie, a witty comedy that promises to convey a simple yet profound message. Set over the course of one evening in a ladies’ rest room, the play interweaves the stories of five women who learn beautiful lessons through their chance encounter with each other.


How do you feel upon your return to theatre after working in films and television for so long?

I’ve been working with theatre since school. At that time it was more story-bound, more actor-oriented. It then became a very serious medium – there were a lot of expectations bound to it. In recent times, it’s become commercialised according to me. Plays are geared towards bringing in an audience and getting people interested again. That is where ‘Selfie’ stands out – there are no gimmicks… the script is the real hero. I think here we’ve come back to the basics of theatre. Since the script is strong, we don’t need an elaborate spectacle, or big names to run the show.

In what way does ‘Selfie’, with an all-female cast, make a statement?

I feel an all-women cast is something that society has naturally progressed into appreciating. Theatre is a powerful medium to tell stories and it has to be the right time to tell them so the audience is more receptive. This is the correct time for a women-centric story to be told, and in a non-preachy manner. Nobody would like to be lectured or be told what to do, but if I plant a seed in your mind, it might grow into a tree you would want to nurture. The simplest idea we wish to convey is that the biggest of your problems can be solved by simply changing your perspective of looking at that problem…that’s what we women do with each other in the play. All of this is done in a comical, organic and smooth manner, so that it doesn’t sound like a lecture.

What part of the experience of working in theatre do you love the most?

It’s the camaraderie, and the sincerity of the craft that everyone has. Everyone is capable of correcting and helping one another, very organically, and in the right spirit. There’s seldom one-upmanship, because theatre is all about team work. You are as strong as your weakest link. This beautiful spirit we must remember to carry in the other spheres of our professional and personal lives.

How has your experience with films and television contributed to your growth as a theatre actor?

Working in movies, television and theatre are radically different experiences. With theatre, you’re emoting much louder, much bigger. On the silver screen you can’t, it comes off as overacting.

Theatre has its own charm, because you’ve to reach out to the entire audience. What television has helped me with is to learn my lines fast, movies have taught me how to hold on to the feelings and emotions when you have to work on the same scene multiple times or after a long break. As a comedian, the comic timing was good when we practised.

(‘Seflie’ will be staged at Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi on June 16.)

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 9:14:07 AM |

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