For actor Ratna Pathak Shah, theatre remains her first love


For actor Ratna Pathak Shah, theatre remains her first love. But that love has seen a massive dent due to the current Covid crisis, as it has kept her away from performing live in front of an audience.

“It is particularly painful for me. I’m a theatre person. The idea is to perform in front of a live audience that is what I have grown up on, that is what I want to do all my life. To have that taken away from you, it is such a big shock to me,” the actor tells us.

Much like film releases that are now mostly taking the web route, the theatre industry, too, has gone digital. While Shah agrees that the online platforms have brought a lot of new people into the business, she i quick to add, “My big fear with the OTT is that I don’t like plays being on online. It is nowhere close to what the real experience is like.”

The 63-year-old also feels that the web platforms are going to be around for quite some time now. “And they will be a part of the way we express ourselves and create work at these times. But when things clear up everyone will be so fed up of the OTT that they would happy to go back to the theatres,” says Shah, whose last film Thappad had a short theatrical run because of the pandemic and made its way to an OTT platform.

At the work front, the actor’s next, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, was slated to release in theatres this year but has now been pushed. She was also gearing up for the performance of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot this month, but even that stands postponed indefinitely.

“This period has been hard, like everyone else, to change ones way of thinking working living everything. I suppose it has given everyone a comprehensive idea of what retirement will look like and it does not look nice, it does not look pretty. It is a good wake-up call for everyone,” says she.

The actor, who recently served as a jury member of Lockdown Film Festival, adds that, “We were hoping that everything would have been sorted by July 29 when our play was supposed to be out. But there is no sign for us to be able to perform for a long time. It is now about keeping cheerful and busy.”

The festival is an initiative of the Carrot films which partnered with National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC), for streaming top 20 films on its homegrown OTT platform, Cinemas of India.

“I enjoyed it throughly, it is a really nice way to engage people at a time when everyone was trying to find things to do and keep on sanity. It must have been a great experience for people to make those films.These films were made by some very talented people. I was surprised by the variety and skill on display. It was very inspiring. In such a strange time such a strange format,” she ends.

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