Naseeruddin Shah: ‘Those who have something to lose don’t speak up’

Naseeruddin Shah, Loksatta Lokankika, Nareeruddin on theatre, Yashwant Natya Mandir, art and culture, plays in mumbai, indian express news

Director-actor Naseeruddin Shah at the grand finale of Loksatta Lokankika on Saturday evening. (Photo: Prashant Nadkar)

The mystery surrounding theatre should be done away with,” said director-actor Naseeruddin Shah, as he addressed the audience at the packed Yashwant Natya Mandir in Mumbai’s Matunga West at the grand finale of Loksatta Lokankika on Saturday evening.

At a time when visual and performance art are constantly evolving, Shah noted, “The ice between the audience and actors needs to be broken”. He added, “Since it is not a secret that we are staging a play, the actors should go beyond realism. There is no need to create a mystery. It is necessary to break the fourth wall. Trust me, no one is more conscious than the audience seated on the front row.”

Shah’s talk was preceded by readings on Mahatma Gandhi. Among others, veteran actor Rohini Hattangadi read out excepts from Ramchandra Guha’s piece about Gandhi in Kashmir and his views on Kashmir, which was translated into Marathi.

Talking about the influence of television on theatre, Shah said, “We had hope from television. The content, such as Kamleshwar’s talk show, used to be very interesting. The reach of television is very wide. However, there might be some restrictions on progressive content now.” He also spoke about how the popularity of television in the US in the ’50s inspired some of the great actors of that period to better their craft. Addressing the youth at the finale, he advised them to follow their heart.

When asked about why celebrities in India don’t speak up, Shah, an Aligarh Muslim University alumnus, said: “Increasingly, more and more people are speaking their mind today. Gradually, the fear of a backlash if they take a stand is going away. Maybe those, whose voices will be heard, are not opening up yet. Maybe they have something to lose. But more and more people will lose this fear in the coming days.”

During the mega finale of Loksatta Lokankika, an annual one-act play competition, eight teams staged their plays. The title partner of the event was Soft Corner and associate partners were BG Chitale Dairy and Zee Talkies. The event was powered by Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Commander Watertech Private Limited and MK Ghare Jewellers. It was supported by Astitva, and Iris Productions was the talent partner.

Naseeruddin Shah, Loksatta Lokankika, Nareeruddin on theatre, Yashwant Natya Mandir, art and culture, plays in mumbai, indian express news

A still from Tangent. (Photo: Prashant Nadkar)

The top position in the the competition was secured by Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College, Mumbai, for the play Budrukwadicha Maruti Batla. The second position went to Saraswati Bhuvan College of Arts and Commerce, Aurangabad, for Kalokhacha Rang Konta?, and Shrimati Kashibai Navale College Of Engineering, Pune, won the third position for Tangent.

Ranjit Patil received the Best Director award for Budrukwadicha Maruti Batla, while Prajakt Deshmukh, from Konkan Gyanpeeth Uran College of Commerce And Arts, got the Best Scriptwriter award for Haminatsu. For Haminatsu, Gaurav Relekar received the Best Music award. Krishna Dikkar and Jagdish Kannam won the Best Actor award for Kalokhacha Rang Konta?, along with Vaibhav Kale, who acted in Tangent.