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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sunil Shanbag's special moment

Veteran director Sunil Shanbag speaks about his return to the city, theatre group and latest play.

Is this your first visit to the city?

"In those days I was an actor and came down to Kolkata with Satyadev Dubey during the 1980s with a play. But this is the first time that I am here with my directorial venture and I was always looking forward to this visit. Performing in Kolkata was something I always wanted. This play has been running for one-and-a-half years now and coming to Kolkata with the play was very special."

Cotton 56 Polyester 84 is a Mumbai specific play. How do you think the audience here will be able to relate to it?

I think the play is one to which an audience in Mumbai or Kolkata or Indore or Nagpur will be able to relate to. The play is more about the working class tradition and the universality gets across to one and all. The play at face value maybe specific to the Girni workers of Mumbai, but it reflects what's happening in our society. All the characters are flesh and blood ones and this pulls the audience to them immediately.

Why did you choose the backdrop of the textile mills?

The world of industry and commerce is a very strange one. It keeps sucking out everything from the people and once it's done, people are discarded like banana peels. It's an irony that few people choose to notice.

You are known to be a director who always chooses to stick to the original
text without too many modifications . Don't you want to experiment?

If adding something of my own to a text is experimenting, then I'm better off without it. I choose a text because I like it, then where does the question of modifying it in any way come? As a director, I always want the text to speak on my behalf.

When did Theatre Arpana come into existence?

Way back in 1984 some like-minded people thought it was high time to come up with an independent identity. Till then we were all a part of the Satyadev Dubey gharana.

You are also a documentary filmmaker . How did you get started in that medium?

When Doordarshan was the only channel, there was possibility for a lot of fiction work but with the advent of satellite channels, this thing has waned down. The subject for my documentaries were very similar to that of my plays, they were mostly off mainstream.

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