Theatre: Institution or a stepping stone
Extremely ingenious, funny and brilliantly crafted play, titled ‘Wrong number’, will bring together renowned actors like Rakesh Bedi, Kishwar Merchant, Rajesh Puri
"Despite the onset of cinema and the explosion in the digital space, theatre has still not lost its sheen," says Rakesh Bedi, a highly acclaimed actor known for his contributions in the theatre, film and television industry. He feels that approximately 3000 years old art form – which has always been a powerful medium of expression – just cannot be replaced by the new emerging media.
But what makes it stand out from the rest?
Bedi feels the secret lies in theatre's responsibility of reflecting the reality of society. "Just like cinema, the theatre also tries to show the real face of the society. However, cinema is obliged to situations that are commercially prevailing and thus may not have the complete liberty. Theatre definitely portrays the real face of society and people enjoy seeing their own reflection on stage", says Bedi, who has been working for 10 years in the industry.
But above all, what's interesting to note is how theatre is catching the eye of millennials. They are no more interested to sit back as the audience but are willingly exhibiting their enthusiasm through active participation. Is that because theatre is being used as a launchpad for aspiring actors who wish to become a part of the showbiz industry?
Though theatre has produced uncountable talented gems including Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi Rajkummar Rao, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who later went to explore the film industry, It doesn't seem ethical to use the platform as a stepping stone to enter the world of showbiz.
Bedi however does not find any harm in it."I don't see any harm if some youngsters join theatre as a stepping
stone towards cinema or any other career in the world of media or television. But youngsters must understand that it is not a stepping stone but an institution and space where you practice your art. Theatre gives artists a platform to experiment with various subjects, improve their craft and experience subjects which may not be available if they are doing just cinema," explain Bedi, who is in the town to perform ingenious, funny and brilliantly crafted masterpiece, 'Wrong Number'. The play will bring together actors like Tanaaz Irani, Delnaaz Irani, Avtar Gill, Kishwar Merchant, Rajesh Puri and Rahul Bhuchar.
Despite the growing popularity, theatre as a full-time profession is still considered to be a risk in India. Pointing towards the reasons behind the insecurity, Bedi further said, "The mind-set of people has been to watch theatre for free since they don't want to buy tickets. They might buy expensive tickets for cinema but still hold back when it comes to buying expensive theatre tickets. However, the mind-set is changing now and especially in a city like Delhi, I have seen it change over the past 15 years. Audiences in the metros are willing to spend
money if the content, performances and the production is good. But a lot of change needs to occur in the mind sets of those living in smaller cities. Immense hard work is being done by theatre enthusiasts and production houses to promote theatre aggressively across India."
The veteran actor is extremely excited and looking forward to the first performance of 'Wrong Number', which will be staged on May 20 at the Kamani auditorium. Sharing his joy, Bedi stated, "All the actors in the play are well known to me for many years as we have worked together on different projects at different times. Working with them feels like home. There are a lot of incidents that I would like to share but frankly, the fun of this play was that the entire cast went beyond the confines of the script and that's what makes this play extremely special."