'Theatre is like a stepping stone'

Director's cut

Like many others, when Chittaranjan Tripathy saw Sholay, he got motivated to work in films. Moving from Delhi to his hometown Chandbali, Odisha, to finally Mumbai, he wanted to start afresh and without any baggage. As a debutant director in the Hindi film industry with his Tera Mera Tedha Medha slated for a September 11 release, he reveals a lot more
in a freewheeling chat with Metrolife.

A well known name in Delhi’s theatre circle, Tripathy is an NSD (National School of Drama) graduate. The play, Tajmahal ka Tender (TKT), directed by him, became a hit and ran in Delhi for 10 years. “I was given the opportunity to direct TKT by that time’s NSD director Dr Ram Gopal Bajaj. I owe everything to him,” he says.

Liked by critics like Mrinal Sen, even now multiple versions of TKT fetch good responses. Tripathy mentions that Delhi has been his learning centre.

“Right from trying to grasp Hindi to directing, from the technicalities of theatre to the techniques of cinema, I learnt everything in Delhi,” he says.

Recollecting his days at NSD, he says, “My first six months were frustrating and, I was nearly into depression because Hindi being very necessary for cinema and theatre, I did not know it. My entire training would have been a waste if it had not been for Mita Vashisht.”

He adds, “There was an acting workshop by Mita Vashisht and she was casting for a play called Ashadh ka ek din and she said that anyone could opt for any role. I did not opt for any role. She asked me the reason and I confessed that I am bad in Hindi. She guided me to still try. I played a comic character named ‘Anunashik’ and got a good applause. That was the moment that changed everything. I realised that if I worked hard, learning Hindi would be easy too.”  

After TKT, he mentions he wanted to move beyond. “I was approaching a dead-end. By that time, there was nothing new to do. There was no further development of theatre in Delhi because of which theatre ends up like a stepping stone. That was the main reason I shifted to my hometown, Chandbali in Orissa and tasted success with Dhauli Express in 2007 which also bagged the best state film award from the Odisha government,” Tripathy mentions. With state-level recognition, his next move was to the city of dreams. He frankly states, “The dynamics of Hindi films are different from drama. Mumbai gives shocks and surprises consistently. When you approach a star, they ask for a producer. When you approach a producer, they want the film to be bagged by a reputed star. That is how it works. But as filmmakers, if we dream to make a film, we make it.”

As many people are taking to astrology and planetary positions, his new venture, Tera Mera Tedha Medha presents a satirical take with the story of Rajan Jha played by actor Rahul Bagga. He says, “It’s a small budget film. It will entertain the audience as it’s a romantic comedy with a social satire on how people react and deal with planetary dispositions.” 

With his foray into acting, and directing and composing more than 500 songs for drama and films, he says, “I enjoy all mediums. As a director, you have lots of responsibilities. Whereas in acting, I get bored until the next shot is ready.” The forty-four year old adds, “A film is theatre on screen. Cinema is just like art, science and technology to me. It should narrate a story.”

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