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Multi-faceted to the core

Rajit Kapur juggles theatre, movies and production efficiently. He throws light on his forthcoming projects and theatre.


REASON TO SMILE: Rajit Kapur

RAJIT KAPUR has the intensity and versatility to pull off any role. Be it Byomkesh Bakshi or as the Mahatma in The Making of the Mahatma, the journalist in Zubeidaa and many more roles in films like Sardari Begum, Haribhari to name a few and in theatre productions - these roles have proved he is a storehouse of talent. He wears many caps - as actor, producer, director and he slips into them easily. As co-producer of I'm not BajiRao, he was in Hyderabad to stage it and gave an update of his forthcoming projects.

Rajit's career graph in films has taken a slight dip. There has been a lull as far as Hindi movies are concerned after Zubeidaa although he did Zindagi khubsoorat hai and Nishaad. Last year he did a Malayalam film Agnisakshi and a Bengali film Abhoi do. "Obviously these films are not written, talked about or even seen because that's the producer's job. I try and do two films a year and if they are meaty projects I am happy doing them," he says. The good news is that Rajit will be acting in Shyam Benegal's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose later this year though he doesn't know whose character he will be playing in it.

Rajit has been directing programmes for television made by his production house Saraansh. The teleplays made by were televised on Star Plus. The last one year has not seen any activity. "We got more involved with non-fiction - short films of a docu nature. We are working on one of those titled Temples of India." What made him take this up? "I think anything which could just satisfy your creative urges, something which is again allied to what I am doing.I have been travelling in Himachal Pradesh. It's absolutely wonderful because there's so much you get to know while you are on the job, something which one would not maybe take a book and read." Would you be extending this to include other religious structures as well? "At this stage it is difficult to say because if this works and if we are able to sell it then one would think of other structures as well. At this stage it is very nebulous and it is the incubation period. We've just made one capsule so to say like a pilot on five temples near Dharamshala."

Rajit has been actively involved in theatre. In fact he was into theatre before television and movies. Rage, the theatre company of Rahul da Cunha, Shernaz Patel, Radhika da Cunha and Rajit himself, will be staging a new play Class of 84 by the end of the year - to be written by Rahul da Cunha whose directed I'm not BajiRao. "The play is about a group of friends who meet for the first time after almost 20 years because one of them passes away. I will be acting in it."

The theatre scene in Mumbai is more vibrant compared to other cities. "Things in Mumbai are picking up. There is a lot more writing happening which is a very positive sign. In Mumbai there are different kinds of theatres - different languages - apart from the regular Marathi theatre (not just weekend) Hindi, English and now Hinglish. Our play I'm not BajiRao symbolises that Mumbai khichdi bhasha.

I'm not BajiRao has completed about 300 shows. What's been the USP of the play? "I think it has appealed because it doesn't have a language. We call it an English play but it's got Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi and English and I would say in that sense it is Indian. Of course it may have a slight Mumbai flavour, but it is still Indian, and therefore, goes down with everybody.

Is English theatre very elitist? "May be it was earlier because everything was lifted from British plays and just brought down. I don't see that case any more. There's a lot more happening now in the last 4-5 years because of writing which began much before."

Should English theatre not be relevant and provocative as well? "That's a question mark about whether it should or it shouldn't. I think every piece of any kind of creation must explore all possibilities - whether music, painting or even theatre. To what extent something has be provocative, educative, entertaining really depends on who is doing it and what their aim is. And finally it does boil down to the fact that everybody wants an entertaining evening so to say. So it's up to each one of us on how we mix the ingredients and offer the package."

Theatre is quite difficult to sustain. What about sponsorship to theatre? "It's very difficult. Sponsorship is important. I think in today's times corporate sponsorship helps a great deal. That's what we always try for."

"It is difficult particularly when we are performing outside Mumbai. The most difficult thing is really air tickets because the airways have stopped giving concessions and tickets. That is a bit of a bummer."

If things work out Saraansh may be making their first feature film next year informs Rajit at the end of the chat.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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