'I will always enjoy theatre more than cinema'

Back in 1994, theatre and film personality Piyush Mishra wrote a musical play on Bhagat Singhs life and times, and just like his audience, he finds the play relevant even today. Titled 'Gagan Damama Bajyo, it will be featured at the Prithvi Theatre and Royal Opera House in Mumbai as part of the Prithvi Festival in November.

Edited excerpts from an email interview with Piyush Mishra:

What makes for a good story for you?

Small moments, little slices of reality make a story really interesting to me. It's not just the plot, but the small moments in the story that can really make it come alive.

'Gagan Damama Bajyo' explores Bhagat Singh in a way history textbooks and public memory does not. Why this focus?

Everyone has always just concentrated on the revolutionary aspect of Bhagat Singh's life. I had researched so much on his life that I would often dream about him. And what I'd think about was his day to day life. He was an intellectual beyond comparison, a friend, a son and maybe even a lover. That humanity is what I wanted to reveal to my audience.

Why is the play still relevant even after 25 years?

I have grown so much since I have written this play but I still find his ideologies relatable. When I speak to today's generation about Bhagat Singh, they can connect with him because I portray him as a common person who had extraordinary experiences because of the way he chose to live.

How much are you personally inspired by Bhagat Singh's thoughts?

I think he is one of our country's premier intellectuals and he died before his time. I respect his beliefs and his commitment to them.

Period dramas often tend to glorify some narratives. How have you ensured a truthful perspective to the storytelling?

There will always be some creative liberty in storytelling. But I have tried to remain completely true to the character I researched and the man I think he was. I have not glorified any one aspect of his character and tried to talk about all aspects of his humanity.

You have previously said that in your first theatre 'innings' theatre quenched your creative passion but was not financially satisfying. Would you say theatre is still not a well-paid profession?

It isn't financially viable even today, but things are changing and people are trying. It's difficult to say if it will ever become a well-paid profession but this will always remain a great way to explore and learn. Theatre has given me a lot of things but I couldn't feed myself or my family back then which is why I decided to move to Mumbai and start finding work that can pay me. Everything I have done has come out of theatre - my music, my acting, my singing, art of directing, art of writing, poetry, etc.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

I wanted to make a comeback as a director of my own musical to showcase this at Prithvi Festival this year. Other than that, some of my films and web series are ready to release but I am back to my roots with theatre and I will always enjoy this more than cinema.

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