'I do theatre for entertainment'

NOTEWORTHY DIRECTOR

'I do theatre for entertainment'

He is a director renowned for breaking the paradigms of time and space and he feels the need to do so because “theatre is a medium that needs innovation.” Meet Aamir Raza Husain. 

As he shouts “lights off,” and exits from the rehearsal of the play The Forgotten Film, which recently marked the closure of Centenary Film Festival in Delhi, Metrolife caught the thespian in a candid chat.

He insisted on the need for innovation because he is “competing against a 100 free channels and movies which are worth 100 crores. We experiment with different paradigms of theatre to keep my audience happy. Today, we have an English theatre audience which travels all over the world. They have seen Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast in America. So we all try in our own way – small, big, indifferent to make sure that we keep our audience excitement going and are able to instill in them some sort of awe for theatre so that they come and watch it.”

Known to have staged plays at a humongous level, Aamir shares tales of how he barged into L K Advani’s house to seek support for his 1994 production The Legend of Ram and got moved by the condition of injured soldiers in an Army Hospital and directed the play The Fifty Day War in 2000 after the Kargil War.

“I have not able to do justice to a lot of stuff that I have done,” he confesses, adding that he goes out of auditoriums to build grand sets because the audience likes such experiences. But accepts that one doesn’t need to get bigger in order to be better. “Its not the size but the content and how you tell a story that matters. A successful piece of entertainment is a good story well told!  Its a story well told which is the origin of all entertainment. Why are some films a hit and others a flop is because of story. Today, a story well told lays the foundation for a good piece of entertainment,” says Husain, explaining his philosophy of theatre.

“The big plays that we have done have had some emotion but it isn’t a take off from my philosophy, which is ‘theatre for entertainment’ – only entertainment. Anything else is a bonus!”

But just the fact that he was invited to perform at such a significant event of cinema reinforces the fact that theatre is still a more revered stream. “Its fantastic. One who learns in theatre, goes on to become a better actor – whether its Dilip Kumar or Naseeruddin Shah. Its a great medium but its limited whereas cinema has a huge appeal and creates stars. I am waiting for the day when I am able to, in my lifetime, see theatre become an industry.”

But unlike the film industry, he doesn’t want theatre to copy. “I get hassled when I see an Indian film copied from an English film. I would not let creep it into my theatre,” he states adding that what makes it easier for him to go on is his family which loves and is involved in theatre too.

Having given his whole life to theatre, he has no regrets and states that, “If I were to live my life again, I won’t have it any other way. Theatre has given me high blood pressure, diabetes and a heart problem but also satisfaction, money and fame. Theatre is my medium and I love it.”

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