While words such as “career” and “ambition” may have been too heavy to find place in eight-year-old Vikram Kapadia’s vocabulary , yet, when he stepped on stage for the first time at that age, he said to himself, “This is where I belong; this is where I want to be.” The conviction of this little boy was meant to go beyond a mere infatuation and transmute into a full-fledged love affair with the world of theatre. And today, having been associated with theatre for over 25 years, Mumbai-based Kapadia has to his credit several acclaimed plays not just as an actor, but also as a playwright and director.
While the productions in which he worked as an actor include The Good Doctor (1984), Exit The King (1985), Evam Indrajit (1986), As You Like It (1987), Tughlaq (1994) and Romeo and Juliet (1995), his directorial ventures include The Dining Room (1989), Rupert’s Birthday (1990), Master Harold and the Boys (1991), Julius Caeser (1992, co-directed with Naseeruddin Shah) and Black With Equal (2003), to name a few. Kapadia will showcase his English play Bombay Talkies in Pune at Courtyard, Phoenix Marketcity, on April 3, 7.30 pm onwards. The play is being presented in association with The Dragaon Rose Project.
Though the play opened in Mumbai in November 2011, it is for the first time that Bombay Talkies is being staged in Pune. Recalling an incident which became the germ for the play, Kapadia says that in 2011, National Centre for The Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai, was holding an event called “Embracing the Future”, to commemorate the 26/11 Mumbai attack, with an idea to look at the city positively. The guests at the event included dignitaries from the city and people who had lost family members during the attacks. “I was asked to write a 15-minute monologue for the event, which was performed by Mandira Bedi. A few days later, I decided to write some more monologues; and thus came about Bombay Talkies,” says Kapadia.
The play features seven monologues by seven artistes, sharing insights into their lives at various levels — both personal and public. “These are people who live around us or with us. They share their private moments and issues they are dealing with or have dealt with in the past,” says Kapadia.
However, the respective monologues are not inter-connected. “So while one character’s story deals with child abuse, a woman character in her monologue reveals how she is being subjected to constant verbal abuse by her husband,” adds Kapadia. The cast of Bombay Talkies includes Mansi Multani, Dilnaz Irani, Viraf Phiroze Patel, Darshan Jariwalla, Anahita Uberoi, Namit Das and Devika Shahani.
It’s difficult to compartmentalise the play in a particular genre, says Kapadia, adding, “I would like to call it a comedy drama.” Despite its sober texture, about 70 per cent of the play, he says, is black humour.
In 2013, Kapadia had written the Hindi version of Bombay Talkies with Mumbai-based playwright and director Naushil Mehta. While the English version has had about 50 shows till date, the Hindi one has had about 25 shows. “A theatre woman from Estonia (Northern Europe) had contacted me recently; she wanted to adapt Bombay Talkies to their local language,” says Kapadia, who is also trained in Western classical ballet, tap dance and ballroom dance.
According to Kapadia, an individual’s theatre education is a continual process, and in his case, having attended workshops by international theatre experts such as Peter Brook, Edward Argent, Janet Suzmann, Maria Irene Fornes, Andrew Wade of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Steven Berkoff, along with Indian theatre personalities such as Naseeruddin Shah, N Muthuswamy, Satyadev Dubey and Pearl Padamsee has proved extremely rewarding.