Interview : Rajat Kapur

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RAJAT KAPOOR

RAJAT KAPOOR

Rajat Kapoor has become an expert at wearing too many hats at a time. An actor, director, writer, model, anchor…he speaks to our correspondent in Kolkata on how films compromise with quality for making money

Your play The Blue Mug is getting huge response in every city where it is being staged…
Yes…the response is overwhelming. It feels great to see the audience being able to connect to the play. Ballentine’s Leave An Impression has arranged for a seven-city tour for The Blue Mug. We have already staged shows in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata; next are Chandigarh, Delhi and Bangalore.

This play is all about memories?
In this play there are memories that have left a deep impact on you, as well as those which are mundane. Like, my father had a printing press and I still remember the telephone number of the place even after 30 years though I never need that number or call at that number. Similarly, Blue Mug is also a concept that is printed inside someone’s head.

As far as we know, all of you (Vinay Pathak, Sheeba Chadha, Munish

“We just want to make money…”

Bharadwaj and you) are playing yourselves, while Ranvir Shorey and Konkona Sen Sharma are playing patient and doctor. So how have you woven the script?

Ranvir is playing a guy who has lost his memory. And in his contrast, we are playing ourselves. Like, I am playing Rajat Kapoor…what are the memories he is made up of…small incidents, big events…he is a part of all of that. And we are presenting our personal memories to the audience.

And does this spontaneity come naturally?
No…it comes through practice, rehearsals. Nothing is spontaneous…you have to practice it. It is an act that you achieve only after you rehearse for long hours. Spontaneity, improvisations start after that.

Okay, given a chance, what are the memories you would like to forget?
I think every man should forget all the memories that make him sad, bitter…create hatred inside him. This is the only way to be happy and have a better life.

Theatre has always been seen as something exclusively for the elite mass. Do you agree?
It depends you know. Because in villages also you have folk theatre, you will find them if you go to small towns of south of India. Even in Bengal there’s jatra. Is it not for the common people? Theatre is for everyone…be it the so-called common people or the elite class; but in different forms. But yes, the kind theatre we do…the Proscenium theatre…that of course, only a certain section of the society can afford to come and watch.



view REHARSALA OF THE PLAY THE BLUE MUG picture gallery

view REHARSALS OF THE PLAY
THE BLUE MUG picture gallery

So your theatre is for elite people?
I don’t think so. It’s all about the habit of going to theatre; not necessarily the elite. Looking at a form of art like that is a bit problematic. It’s like saying classical music is for elite people. Is it? If you have, for example, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi coming to perform, probably you will go, people of your class will go, I will go…may be a common man will not go. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand Bhimsen Joshi; because when he listens to that he responds. It is part of his tradition as much as it is yours…may be more! In South India the common men are trained in classical music. In a Kerala village when there’s a kathakali performance it’s common man who will probably respond to the performance more than you and I. Because for him it is part of their worship…ritual…life.

You are into both films and theatres. How different are the two mediums?
Very different. In a film it’s the camera and script that’s doing everything…you just have to ‘be’ (there). The camera captures you. In a theatre you perform. It’s such a great joy to be on stage, to direct a play, to see it happen…it’s a different high.

In today’s time, don’t you think people are more comfortable in walking into a multiplex to watch a movie than go for a play?
Cinema is a form that aims to reach a large number of people; and it’s not only in India, it’s anywhere in the world. Also because theatre limits itself by its very presence. You can make 700 prints of a film, but we can’t make 700 prints of this play (The Blue Mug). We have to go city to city to perform.

But in reaching out to larger number, don’t films compromise with quality?
It does compromise. That’s why we have so many craps everyday. But then, there are very crappy theatres also. So even though we don’t have to suffer from economically, we make such bad films. Why do we do that? Because we are mediocre people. We don’t want to work; we just want to make money. And that’s why we churn trash and we subject people to watch these trash.

There are takers for these ‘trash’…
Yes, but that’s a vicious circle. We always say we make films because audience wants to see these. But we never gave them a choice. So how do we know they want to see these (films)?


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