The news of Jennifer and Shashi Kapoors dedicated daughter,
Sanjna,moving on from Prithvi Theatre to start her own production company Junoon wasnt entirely unexpected. Yet,when she announced it formally,on Friday through letters one written by her and another jointly with her brother Kunal Kapoor it left theatre groups heavy-hearted. From April 1 next year,Sanjna will cease to be the director of Prithvi. Her brother Kunal,its former director and currently a trustee,will take over once again. Junoon,the touring theatre company that will make its debut next year,is intended to bring back the culture of touring theatre groups in India.
Junoon (which means passion) is in Sanjnas genes. Both her parents Jennifer Kendal and Shashi Kapoor were a part of travelling theatre companies. In fact,they met for the first time in Calcutta in 1956,when Shakespeareana Company and Prithvi Theatre,respectively,were performing in the same city. The former was run by Jennifers parents,the latter by the late Prithviraj Kapoor,Shashi Kapoors father. Sanjna wants to follow this legacy and reignite the dedication for touring theatre among theatre groups across the country. To be able to focus on Junoon and give time to my family,I need to step back from my involvement at Prithvi Theatre, she says. Along with Sameera Iyengar,Festival Director of Prithvi,Sanjna is currently in the process of setting up Junoon and its detailed programmes.
Sanjna has been talking about travelling with plays for a long time, says Iyengar. While she agrees that it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly triggered the decision,they say their aim is to ease the limitations that various groups face while performing in India. We wish to fill the gap of not having a general tour circuit in the country. We will be curating theatre tours,setting up shows and building new audiences, she adds.
Some time ago,Sanjna had presented a paper at a seminar in Prithvi,where she had made a case for energising theatre venues. She offered to partner in holding performances at these venues. Junoon is a product of our years of work at Prithvi. It has made us realise that there is a huge lacuna in our field,which we wish to fill as enablers, says Sanjna. She explains her new role as someone who enables theatre to reach its deserving audience and likewise enables the audience to access quality theatre. According to her,the four main strands of work in Junoon are going to be youth connect,touring theatre,energising venues in Mumbai and consultancy.
In a joint letter,Sanjna and Kunal wrote,There are many more venues for promoting and improving professional theatre in India. Maybe too many to be addressed under one umbrella. So,to widen the horizons of promoting professional theatre,Sanjna will move on to Junoon.