Interview | Theatre - Fest

It happened one night

Crime, corruption, guilt and redemption — it is all there in Double Deal Reloaded, the concluding play of The Hindu Theatre Fest 2018. Written by Anil Deshmukh, the 90-minute play stars Bharat Dabholkar and Manjari Fadnnis. Produced by AGP World, Double Deal Reloaded follows two people as they battle over blood money, negotiating a minefield of greed, betrayal and deceit. Director Mahesh Dattani who is presently in New York for his play, Rakt Phera, an adaptation of Blood Wedding at George Street Playhouse talks of the play over email. Excerpts.

It happened one night

Why did you choose this play?

My friend Ashvin Gidwani came to me with the script and requested that I do it. Ashvin has produced many of my plays such as Mad About Money and The Alchemist in the past, so I took it on. This is a script that is completely different to the kind of plays I am known for. To an artist it is always good to try a change of diet!

How would you describe the play — a thriller, a noir or a study of human behaviour?

It is all of this, but primarily a twists-and-turns thriller. It doesn’t have any pretensions of being anything other than that. Even so, it is possible to make it a study of human behaviour. There is definitely a noir quality to it, which I have highlighted with the lighting and weather. The action takes place over one night.

Do you prefer big, spectacles or smaller intimate productions? Why?

Personally I prefer smaller intimate productions. That way I am not completely overwhelmed by cost considerations. However, many of my plays lend themselves to spectacle. In my opinion, all plays are spectacles. It is the scale that varies. A play, however intimate and intra personal must also have a visual component to its story telling. The advantage of intimate spaces is that the spectacle can be more imaginative and simple.

Is there a particular genre you prefer to work in? Why?

I definitely prefer drama with a strong conflict. I guess we all have our aesthetic leanings. However, I do like comedy, especially satire.

You have said the play is plot driven but that you worked with the actors to create a sketch of the characters. How important was that exercise?

I think this exercise is important as it helps the actors make their performance more convincing. It sparks their imagination and makes them aware of the power they have to create a character that could possibly be very different to their own nature.

Could you comment on the casting?

Again, the cast was suggested by the producer. But I am very happy with them. Manjari has worked very hard and is a natural talent on stage. Bharat is an experienced director and a thorough professional.

The play is set in Mumbai, but could the setting be universal?

Yes, it could be. The script came to me with a Mumbai setting and it definitely is a convincing one. Ironically, I now have a weekend home in Madh Island where the play is set. Manjari too lives there, so we can identify with the setting completely.

How important are sets and lighting in the play?

Sets and lighting are hugely important in a play like this with its strong commercial appeal. It provides the right mood. Raghav Mishra and Yogesh Deshpande have done a fine job with the sets and lights.

What are your strongest memories of directing Double Deal Reloaded?

We were rehearsing in my flat on Madh Island and the setting seemed too real. We ended up imagining the location to be something like my flat. And Bharat always regales us with his anecdotes about life in the advertising world. Sometimes he repeats the same anecdote much to our amusement.

Double Deal Reloaded will be staged at Chowdiah Memorial Hall on Sunday, August 19 at 7.30 pm.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 5:53:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/theatre-fest/it-happened-one-night/article24706476.ece

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