College friends Bina and Surekha finally meet after almost a decade and decide to spend some time together. But they soon find themselves stuck in a terrible traffic jam — “a situation most of us find ourselves in on a regular basis,” remarks Shivani Tanksale, who plays Surekha in the upcoming play, Jam. “It goes deeper and delves into the lives of the two friends, their friendship, secrets, and is a mirror to the present times in general,” adds Tanksale, who has also directed the 65-minute production.
Based on a radio play by author Annie Zaidi, Jam was the South Asia region winner of BBC’s international playwriting competition and is now all set to be performed as part of the Old World Theatre Festival in the capital. “I loved the story and had initially directed it for Prithvi Theatre. As a radio play, it was minimalistic — something I wanted to retain for the stage as well. However, I did take out a few parts that were very descriptive (since it was for the radio) and incorporated a few elements like sand art projection,” adds the actor who starred in 24, an Indian remake of the popular American television series.
The play, which also stars actors Ishita Sharma (who plays Bina) and Ajitesh Gupta (who plays a radio jockey), beautifully incorporates an element of live sand art animation by Debjani Mukherjee. “The idea behind introducing sand art was to basically show the audience what is going on in the character’s mind. It is essential as the projections are happening right in front of the characters as well as the audience. It is similar to flashbacks in movies,” she tells indianexpress.com.
But ask Tanksale, who started doing theatre when she was just 16 years old, to choose between acting and directing and pat comes the reply, “I truly enjoy both; cannot really choose one”. “As an actor”, she continues, “it can sometimes feel isolated as you are doing what you have to do. But as a director, there is a lot more on the line. You are involved in every aspect of the play. However, I like how being a director gives me the option to create a world. It uses more brain cells and there is a lot of responsibility on you.”
So was it difficult to let go of the director inside when playing Surekha? “It was difficult initially as there are a lot of things involved when you are a director. As an actor, you just need to deliver your lines and and everything works around you. I think it is more difficult to let go during the rehearsals. But once you are on stage, it somehow is a seamless shift,” shares the actor.
Produced by Harkat Studios, Jam will be performed on August 23 at 7.30 pm at The Stein Auditorium, Habitat World, India Habitat Centre.