'I direct Naseer all the time at home'

Versatile Actress

'I direct Naseer all the time at home'

When you think of the happy-go-lucky Maya Sarabhai of the popular TV show, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, the image of Ratna Pathak Shah immediately comes to your mind. Ratna has tried her hand at the big screen and small screen and received wide acclaim for both.

Recently, she made her directorial debut with the play ‘A Walk in the Woods’ starring her husband, Naseeruddin Shah and Rajit Kapoor. The play, which was staged in the City, was about a conversation between two diplomats from India and Pakistan and their attempt to formulate a peace proposal that works for both sides. What seems like a heavy subject was shown in a humorous and light manner by Ratna.

“The main challenge I faced while adapting the play was to understand whether the argument is appropriate in the Indian context or not. The original script was written with the nuclear disarmament policy in mind. We don’t have the same kind of nuclear capabilities and the Indo-Pak issue has never been as serious as the relations between the US and the USSR (former). I had to understand what to retain and see how to bring terrorism, a more relevant subject, into the dialogues,” explains the 49-year-old.

Directing an actor like Naseeruddin Shah, her husband, was not an issue for her at all. “I do it all the time at home!” laughs the director. “I have worked with Naseer now for very long and we are both comfortable with criticism from the other person. I like to give him my comments or suggestions on his performances. The fact that we are married only makes it easier to discuss clashing opinions,” she adds. Since the start of her acting career, Ratna has given memorable performances in the 80s’ films like Mandi, Mirch Masala and ‘Heat and Dust’. In recent years, she has taken up smaller roles in films like Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Golmaal 3.  Though she enjoyed donning the director’s hat in the play, she is not yet ready to say goodbye to her first love.

“I want to have my cake and eat it too. If I had to make a choice at gunpoint, I’d opt for acting. Frankly, at my age, my options are unfortunately becoming more and more limited as an actress. But that doesn’t mean my acting days are over,” shares Ratna.

In fact, acting is definitely back on the cards for her. “We are reviving one of our old productions called ‘Dear Liar’ by Why Not Theatre, which will premiere in Toronto and then do the rounds of Indian cities. Both Naseer and I are acting in it. We’re going back to it because we just love that play and we want to say those lines again,” she says with excitement.

Her contribution to theatre in India has also been considerable and she is one of the co-founders of Motley Theatre Group in Mumbai. “It’s a happy time for theatre in India as many more youngsters are taking to the stage. I’m waiting to see what the landscape of theatre shapes up to be,” she concludes.

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