They’ve had over two months of rehearsals but premiere night jitters hit the best of actors and more so if you are reviving a play with a strong fan-base during the Prithvi Theatre Festival on Diwali night. That ought to induce a lot of pressure. And it has.
Playwright-director-producer Makrand Deshpande has gotten an opportunity to explore the lives of Prof Palekar, Fanidhar and Sarla yet again and he’s thoroughly enjoying playing the puppet-master before an audience that sees the characters unravel before them. “I want the audience to think that they have unwittingly stumbled into someone’s drawing room and are watching the intimate goings-on within,” he says, indulging the gossips in his audience.
Sanjay Dadich, in characteristic style, refuses to acknowledge the stress of opening night. “If you have rehearsed a play for two months and are still not confident about going up on stage then there is something wrong with the rehearsals that you have been doing,” he says, cockily as ever. He is, fittingly, a tad bit nervous about playing a character Anurag Kashyap played splendidly for five years. “Yaar, starting mein darr toh lag raha tha because maine bhi bahot baar shows dekhe hain and Anurag was brilliant in that. But slowly, slowly as I kept working on the character I got better and I have been with sir (Makrand) for over eight years so we do share a certain level of comfort,” he says.
While Sanjay and Makrand represent the past of Sir Sir Sarla, Aahana Kumar (Sarla) and Faisal Rashid (Keshav) are the present. Both of them were nowhere on Mumbai’s theatre scene when the play first opened to a house full Prithvi Theatre on November 15, 2001. Faisal’s only connection to Sir Sir Sarla before rehearsals began were the stacks of books with a picture of Sonali Kulkarni (who played Sarla then) staring at him whenever he dropped in at the Prithvi bookstore.”I have no clue about what people saw back in 2001. I’d read the play earlier but I didn’t understand it much. Now, I’ve understood the play better through rehearsals.”
Aahana, on the other hand, realised what it means to play Sarla almost immediately after she was cast for the play. “The beauty is that he’s (Makrand) has made it really easy. The only time I feel the pressure is when I meet someone and they go, ‘Haw! Are you doing Sarla?’ and all I can say is, ‘Ya…uhm…hmmm,” she says. The rest of the team might be worried about bringing back a well known play on stage and the expectations of the audience, or simply just about filling in the auditorium on Diwali night but Aahana has a more pertinent concern — her sari. “I just don’t want my sari to come off. That’s the only thing I’m jittery about. I two rehearsals, after I started wearing the sari, I have stepped into my sari and it has come off! But I think I will sufficiently pinned up for the show. No, I’m a little jittery about the show but the kind of confidence that sir has shown in us, I think hum sambhal lenge.”