Bharat Dabholkar says when it comes to theatre, it has now become difficult to find committed actors for English plays….writes Kishori Sud
He used his creativity for some of the popular ads for Amul, and he has worn many hats — that of an actor, scriptwriter and director in the theatre and film world.
Dabholkar, whose play “Blame It on Yashraj” marked its 100th show this year in March, says it is tough to find actors who do theatre for passion and take out time for their other livelihood commitments.
“To find a committed actor for theatre is a challenge, especially for English plays, as we can only do four to five shows in a month, unlike Marathi and Gujarati plays.
“So, to find actors who do it for passion and take out time for their other livelihood commitments is tough. We luckily got the best of actors for ‘Blame It On Yashraj’ which has been running for four years,” Dabholkar said.
With different platforms now available as sources of entertainment, unlike earlier when a television set at home was a luxury, the “Company” and “Corporate” actor says that there is immense pressure on actors, directors and everyone else involved in the staging of a play to deliver what the audience cannot get on TV.
“Theatre faces competition from not just other plays but from television, films, cricket matches, festivals and lots of other things. A play has to give the audience what they can’t get on TV and more. The whole live experience has to be heightened through technology, dances… And that’s a challenge.
“In a play like ‘Bottoms up’, I can change the script for every show, as I do, but in a full-length play, there are limitations. You can only update a bit, not too much. So the challenge really is to make the given package attractive enough to last for a long time and cut across state and national boundaries and appeal to different audiences,” added Dabholkar, who will next be seen in the forthcoming film “Sarkar 3”.
It is well known that Indian films are gaining more viewership on foreign shores and getting recognition at some of the best film festivals. What is the scenario in the context of Indian plays?
“A lot of plays travel abroad, even regional plays — be it in Marathi or Gujarati. But those plays cater to the specific community. On the other hand, our play ‘Blame It On Yashraj/Bollywood’ which is in English, also communicates the Indian culture and tradition which is enjoyed by all communities and regions with the same spirit.
“For example, recently when we did a tour in South Africa, a large chunk of the audience were locals and foreigners, not Indian. Bollywood being a global commodity helps the play too,” he added.
Having had a long stint in the world of advertising, what drove Dabholkar to theatre?
“Theatre and advertising always complemented each other. It was more fun and rewarding. I used to use certain language or lines in the play and if they worked with the audience, then I would use them in advertising.
“Basically, my plays worked as a laboratory for my advertising copy,” Dabholkar said.