interview | makrand deshpande Theatre

‘Theatre must create its own stars’

MASTER IN ACTION Makrand Deshpande in “Sir Sir Sarla”  

A versatile performer, while writing Makrand Deshpande’s profile, one doesn’t know which of these must be written first – actor, playwright or director. Help comes from the artist himself. He likes to be described as a playwright for whom theatre is his first love. Deshpande has to his credit innumerable plays and is still writing. Bringing one of his longest running and oldest plays, ‘Sir Sir Sarla’ to Delhi after a gap of 12 long years as part of the Zee Theatre initiative; the philosophical Deshpande speaks about the reasons for giving the Capital a miss, his favourite playwrights and more.

You have brought the play to Delhi after 12 long years. Why such a long gap?

I don’t like to go out of Mumbai. Outside Mumbai, Jaipur, Lucknow and Bhopal are the destinations I like to take my plays to for the simple reason that you tend to like some place sometimes and you don’t want to go anywhere else. Moreover, in Jaipur and Lucknow, festivals were happening and I liked being there. I was an important person who made these fests happen. I am not really a commercial person. In fact, I last came to NSD in 1998.

Sir Sir Sarla’ is an unusual name but has a usual theme. It is one of your oldest plays. What makes it so popular?

I, as a playwright, used to love the absurd and the abstract. Suddenly with this play, I realised, I had come up with something that appealed to everyone. It is about the love of two university students for their teacher, philosopher and guide. It turned out to be a play that everyone liked. It changed the lives of many in the audiences. They found answers to many problems in their lives. It has a very identifiable theme. Its philosophy, the poetry, the language of the play, its characters, all reach out to the audiences.

In your career span, what has been more satisfying – theatre or films?

Theatre definitely. Writing a play, conceiving it, acting in it as well as directing are all part of me. Cinema is a different discipline. In the world of theatre everything is so instant, there is a lot of involvement; the sets are designed again and again, which makes it possible for us to improvise or change the setting each time. You rehearse, get ready. It’s a very different genre.

Theatre in India – is it here to stay?

Theatre, surely, is here to stay. The audience is not only excited to be entertained but also is looking forward to seeing something new; experience something new in life. With music, sound, language, acting – all of it live – it’s a wholesome experience.

The involvement of the audience is complete. I have managed to create an audience that likes to see my kind of plays. Like films, theatre, I feel, must create its own stars.

Who among the playwrights have been your favourites?

I love Vijay Tendulkar, Luigi Pirandello, and Shakespeare. Recently, I performed King Lear in Marathi. I wrote and acted in it as well. It was an interesting experience. I shall also be dealing with Romeo and Juliet but not in the same way as it is but have my own take on it. And, of course, I love Tagore – for his philosophy, his poetry, imagery. There is so much in his portfolio to interpret in my own way. Directing Chitra was a pleasure.

Writing constantly, do you ever come face-to-face with the writer’s block?

Yes, it did happen. But the last time it did, it was in 1998 when I didn’t write for a whole year. After that I’ve been at peace.

You released a limited edition book titled ‘Ansh, Theatre Group’. What made you come up with the idea?

I never wanted to do it. But we had a festival and everybody said that since I had so many scripts, I should compile those into a book. You see, plays keep evolving. But that’s about it. I don’t intend to write a book. Not now, at least.

In life, do you see yourself in any other role if not that of an actor?

If not an actor, I would have loved to meet people and talk to them.

A character you would like to play and have not until now?

Raja Ravi Verma is one character I would love to play. He is the one Indian painter who got goddesses into people’s homes. He saw beauty in people and not just in kings and gods.

What’s keeping you busy presently?

A lot of plays are happening. I am reading a lot and writing too. I am also doing a Ram Gopal Varma film.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 9:30:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/theatre-must-create-its-own-stars/article17386747.ece

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