Actor Rohit Roy, who is all set to essay the role of BR Ambedkar in a grand musical, believes he was destined to play this “larger-than-life personality” on stage.
The extraordinary life and legacy of Ambedkar is all set to come alive in a Broadway-style spectacular musical, to be hosted from February 25 to March 12 at the JLN Stadium here.
“I have done all genres and all mediums, from TV to theatre to films to OTT platforms. But, when I was preparing for this role, one thing that really helped me was the similarity that I feel between his life and my life, which is that we both had to struggle,” he said.
“He (Ambedkar), despite his academic achievements and calibre, till the end of his life kept struggling to tell society that all humans must be equal. I also have struggled in my career, had no godfather in the industry and kept working to move ahead. So, I feel I was, in a way, destined to play his role,” Roy told PTI in an interview.
The 53-year-old actor suggested that the grand musical, hosted by the Delhi government, should be made a “travelling show” so that “Ambedkar’s life story in this spectacular avatar” can be taken to various parts of India and abroad.
The script of the play is embedded with social commentary on the plight of the Dalit community and their struggle, even after 75 years of Independence, he said.
Asked about the current situation of Dalits and vote-bank politics done in their name, he said it was sad that social divisions still existed in society.
“He was against the unequal situation of our society, and he was right. And, how can you treat two citizens of the country differently? We see division on religious lines, societal lines, and then you have the social division of humans as per four or five different parameters which doesn’t make sense and it is not even logical.”
Rohit Roy alleged that today, division in society seems to be more on religious lines, but caste-based divisions exist. He said there is a line in the play which goes, “Today, many people have also accepted inequality in our society, which is sad”.
The play on the architect of the Indian Constitution will be showcased on a 100-ft arena having a 40-ft revolving stage, which has been mounted with thematic design. Stagecraft also includes digital props and spectacular play of light and shadow.
The music and songs, include contributions from the Indian Ocean band, and singer Shubha Mudgal has lent her powerful voice to the climax song, which Roy said, “It gave me goosebumps”.
“The music and Indian Ocean songs, especially at the climax, add a totally different layer to the show. And, I am sure, at the end of the over two-hour-long performance, it will not be just entertainment for people, but the audience will certainly take home the message that we intend to drive home, which is the values that Babasaheb stood for and fought for,” he added.
About 30 supporting cast and crew members, drawn largely from an acting studio in Delhi, are part of the production.
When asked about his preparation to essay the role, Roy said, “I have tried to slip emotionally into his character – how Babasaheb would have spoken those lines and how he would have reacted to a particular situation. And, the script is wonderful, and non-preachy, and I keep doing my lines over and over again, to deliver them more effectively”.
The actor said Ambedkar’s portrayal in cinema, theatres and documentaries has largely been “very academic and preachy in nature” but this musical is totally different from previous renditions.
The script emphasises on the importance of education as a means of self-empowerment. “I feel one of the turning points in his life was his steadfast struggle for education, especially at Elphinstone College in Bombay,” said the actor, also known for films like LOC: Kargil, Fashion and Kaabil.