‘There’s no threat,’ says ‘Scam 1992’ fame Pratik Gandhi on future of theatres in India after OTT boom

‘There’s no threat,’ says ‘Scam 1992’ fame Pratik Gandhi on future of theatres in India after OTT boom


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Actor Pratik Gandhi, who shot to overnight fame with director Hansal Mehta’s ‘Scam 1992’, isn’t new to the trade and has been primarily working in Gujarati theatre and cinema for over over a decade. So, one can rightly can that though he has been in the acting space for years, his arrival in the big league got a little too delayed. But much like the entertainment industry which got a new medium for content to offer to its viewers, Pratik’s career too got a fresh start with the OTT boom. However, there’s no denying that he always yearns to go back to his first love and passion — theatre — and misses no opportunity to perform on stage. 
So, soon after the news of National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) reopening it’s doors to audiences, after a pandemic-hit 2020 that forced theatres to shut down completely, came through, Pratik grabbed the opportunity to recreate and perform one of his famous plays ‘Mohan’s Masala’, directed by Manoj Shah. 
With this play the theatre enthusiast will get to witness the exceptional monologue by the talented actor for which he was also included in Limca Book of Records. 
So, spoke to the talented star about future of theatre in India after the arrival of OTT, the art of delivering a monologue in front of live audience and the preparation that went behind bringing alive the life of Mahatama Gandhi in an exclusive interaction. Here are some excerpts from it:
Q. The thought of getting back on stage after months of staying away from it due to the pandemic, how does it feel?
A. Theatre is my life and I had missed being on stage for the whole of last year. It’s such a painful thing to be without a stage for an actor. I was missing it so much that the moment NCPA opened its gates for everyone, the moment they announced this play, I was super excited. I am looking forward to being on stage and performing the lovely character again. 
Q. What was the thought behind bringing alive the life of Mahatma Gandhi on stage?
A. We all have read and heard a lot about Mahatma, seen a lot of movies and images about him. Basically, the thought behind making this play is that everybody in this world is interested in the success, not the process of success. But the real fun, the real insight is in the process. Similarly, what we thought is that Mahatmas are not born. If you decide, you can be a Mahatma too. What goes behind creating a Mahatma out of your own self, is something that we should know. And that’s the basic thought about creating this character, which is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who comes on stage and then he wants to share his ‘masala’ that made Mahatma out of him. So, it’s that little thought that got us started on this project. I personally feel it is very insightful and touching. It is a story of all of us and one of us. 
Q. Tell us a little about the art of delivering a monologue in front of live audience.
A. I feel that monologue is one of the toughest medium for an actor to be on stage and perform because you are the only one and the kind of theatre that we do, which is called minimalistic theatre where you don’t have the heavy sets or heavy lights or overpowering music to support an actor on stage. Everything is absolutely minimalistic just to add that little nuance to the character, line and emotion. So, you are the only one on stage on whom everyone’s is glued to. So, if you are moving from one corner of the stage to another without saying a line and if the audience is attached to you without going to their mobiles then it’s a win for the actor in creating that character and reaching out with those emotions. I feel it’s a very fulfilling experience for an actor to create a monologue like this, of almost one and a half hour or more and engage the audience and transfer them to your world. 
Q. Do you think now that with the theatres reopening after the pandemic, which by the way is here to stay, there will be takers? 
A. As far as I have understood, the pandemic has become an integral part of our lives now, we need to know how to live with it with utmost safety and whatever that we know and can do we must do to safeguards ourselves and others. But, it is not going anywhere soon. We have to deal with it. Having said that, theatre is one place where people will have to come and watch the play. And, I am sure and positive that people will come with all their safety gears on because this is one art form which needs to be up and going. As a theatre actor, I feel relieved and happy that theatres have opened up now. 
Q. With the OTT boom, many believe that even the big screens are going to suffer and have less takers. At such a time what do you think is the future of theatres in India?
A. I think the future of theatre is bright. It is going to be there forever because there is no replacement for the theatre. It’s a live art form so nothing can replace it for sure, even after OTT platforms coming in. There is no threat as such. For the younger generation, the style of storytelling needs to be changed to attract them into the theatres, which I am sure and confident many makers are aware and are already doing it. 



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