Home to the world
Chatline Mahesh Dattani talks to AYESHA MATTHAN about everything — from his plays to theatre at large
Photos: Bhagya Prakash k.
EVOLVING The audience is constantly changing and is unpredictable feels Mahesh Dattani
Director, dancer, playwright and actor Mahesh Dattani says he wants to bring home to the world. In the midst of many things, the Bangalore-bred, Mumbai-based Mahesh says: “When I wrote Where there’s a will, Tara and Dance Like a Man, I was still the Bangalore boy, still very much limited to the city and its experiences. Final Solutions about the nature of prejudice and concerns of communal harmony was the point of my departure.” “Final Solutions was a play written to grow out of preoccupations of self-identity. Another play Thirty Days in September was set outside a familiar social milieu. “I interacted and spoke with eight survivors of child sexual abuse in an NGO called Rahi in Delhi.”
For Mahesh, it was an insightful journey. Instead of emphasising on their experiences as traumatic, it was remarkable to see them as survivors and not victims.
He is positive that Bangalore English theatre has moved on from the Broadway-style productions that were prominent in the 80s and 90s and found its own voice.
‘“Double Deal’ has very little of me — it has the twists and turns of a typical engaging thriller and ‘Mad about Money’ is an adaptation that I revisited and is a comedy.”
Mahesh admires Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen, Madhusudan Rye and Vijay Tendulkar. On whether the third gender is stereotyped in the dizzy world of films, Mahesh points out:
“The male and female genders are also stereotyped, so it’s not only the third gender that is stereotyped.” He feels that the audience always changes and is unpredictable. “It is important theatre becomes a place for them to forget their sense of time and space, and transport them to an imaginary time and space.” Regional flare-ups both in both Mumbai and Bangalore, he feels are not a clash of cultures. “It is regional defence on the issue of insensitivity.” But, he feels that politicians and the media play it up and blow it out of proportion.
“As citizens we should not brush it under the carpet.”
Bangalore has seen the downside of globalisation in its nylon culture and malls. “The point of conflict lies not in traditional versus modern cultures but in the appropriation of the economy by global giants.”
He points out that this sense of property and territory has conveniently elbowed out indigenous traders. “This concept of let the best preside is wrong as it becomes a case of let the biggest edge out the rest.” This, he feels, is not liberalisation but social inequity. For Mahesh, theatre schooling is not a must.
“Formal workshops become a space for observations and expansion. It is easy to feel that you know it all. It’s important not to be bound by the mentor’s experiences and move on.”
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