‘Stage performances have a certain energy’

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Popular television actor Varun Badola, who features in a new Zee Theatre teleplay ‘Wrong Turn’, recalls his early theatre watching days in New Delhi and says live performances have a certain charm and energy that television and film cannot match…writes Siddhi Jain.

The teleplay, directed by Ishan Trivedi, will be aired at Tata Sky throughout December. The play with an interesting storyline, features the noted actor as Arun, who walks into an old house one rainy night to find retired lawyers amusing themselves with an unusual game – that of recreating a trial scene, where a severe fate awaits Arun if proven guilty.

Excerpts from an IANSlife interview with the ‘Mere Dad Ki Dulhan’ star Varun Badola:

On the influence of father Vishwa Mohan Badola, a noted theatre artist

It’s not that others haven’t contributed but the base was formed by him. I’m absolutely a product of what I learnt in my childhood being around him. Right from diction to voice modulation to the basics of being an actor and learning music, everything was taught by my father.

On his approach to theatre

Well, I haven’t done much theatre, I’ll be honest about it. I must have done around 4-5 plays primarily because once I came to Mumbai, television and film consumed so much of my time, that there wasn’t much scope left of doing theatre. That time, I thought it was not the right time for me either. I’m doing ‘Wrong Turn’ with Zee Theatre. I also am to do a play ‘Shabd Leela’, which is a dramatic reading of extracts from Hindi playwright Dharamvir Bharti’s works.

On memories of watching theatre in Delhi

I would have free access to all theatre performances and festivals, including the annual festival of the National School of Dram (NSD) since my father, apart from being a senior journalist was a theatre critic, so we got passes. I have seen a lot of plays in Delhi. My father was associated with Parvatiya Kala Kendra – a repertory run by Mohan Upreti, and they used to do operas in our native languages, Kumaoni and Garhwali. I was involved with them for a long time. Delhi was fun!

On whether he still gets to catch theatre and what excites him about the stage

Stage performances have a certain energy, which TV or film can’t really match for obvious reasons, because live performances have a certain charm.

The best part about doing theatre or performing live in front of the audiences is that no two performances are the same. A film shot in 1950 will have same performance, even in 2020, because it has been scanned by the camera. But if I redo a play today after 20 years, the performances will be different. One’s interpretation and nuances change from show to show.

On any specific plays or characters he enjoys doing

I don’t have any preferences as such, I personally feel that whatever you do, it should have a decent amount of humour in it too. I have seen and done very heavy plays, and I feel there should always be a window of relief.

On ups and downs of theatre going digital

A downside is that you don’t have a live audience, but I still feel there are more benefits. There are stories that can now be told. Theatre, television and film are three different mediums. The great work that has been done on stage can now reach people who cannot go an auditorium. You can cater to a mass audience. Film writing and television writing is very different from theatre, so it’s a completely ballgame. Theatre is a very important educational medium, which should reach more people.

On experience with teleplay ‘Wrong Turn’

The adaptation is done by Ranjit Kapoor, who is a genius. I have seen a lot of his work; he was my father’s friend and they collaborated a lot in Delhi theatre. When I read the script, it took me an hour, and I imposed a curfew in my home because I wanted to finish the script in one go. It is the character of a man who gets stuck in a snowstorm and takes refuge in a house where retired lawyers meet. They do a mock trial and they find him guilty for murder. It’s an interesting play.

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