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"I always wanted to do different things than just mouthing dialogues like, "Hilna nahin, varna goli maar doonga!" (Don't move, or I'll shoot you!), he says.
Which is why Shatrughan Sinha is all set to debut on stage. His play, Pati Patni Aur Main debuts on April 6 in the US and in May in India.
Lata Khubchandani meets the actor-politician to glean more:
Are we witnessing a revival of Hindi theatre?
Hindi theatre was almost finished. People enjoy Marathi theatre. Gujarati was doing well.
In Bengal, too, theatre was faring lukewarm but their jatras started doing very well.
But now Hindi is picking up again. The credit goes to people like Raman Kumar and Ramesh Talwar. Check out the last two plays they did with Jaya Bhaduri, Maa Retire Hoti Hai and Dr Mukta.
Is theatre a satisfying medium for a film actor like you?
I'd say the most potent and most creative platform for the performing artiste is the stage.
Potent because you have to convey everything with your own talent and conviction.
There is no support to fall back upon. You are left to your own resources once you're on stage.
It's like you have a boat but no boatman to carry you across.
And it's creative because whatever happens on stage while you're performing, you have to manage things for yourself and do it in a way that the others can perform too. Your reflexes are exercised and projected on stage in a way that's never done anywhere else.
Have you done done stage before?
Because people have seen and heard my public speeches, they assume I've done theatre before.
Because I'm comfortable in front of crowd they think I've done it before.
But the truth is that the only play I have done earlier is during my student days when I was at the Pune Film and Television Institute of India.
This was a play called Yatri, in which I had played a negative character.
For me, that play was a kind of trailor because I got so much applause for my role that I remember asking myself would I succeed as a villain? I did.
Why have you been keen to do theatre?
The best actors have either come from stage or have returned to stage.
For an actor, stage is a workshop. I have always wanted to do different things than just mouthing dialogues like, "Hilna nahin varna goli maar doonga!"
I tried to do some offbeat films too with Kumar Shahani and Gautam Ghosh. I have often felt the urge to go to an actors' workshop. But I never got the opportunity -- I became so busy with my political career.
I often felt that the basic art that I have within me -- acting -- should not die, should not wither away. I often wondered how to keep it alive.
So how did this play offer come about?
Some people, especially Raman Kumar, had been after me for about four years to do a play.
Raman often told me, "You're so good at improvisation and at extempore speeches. You should do stage." But I just couldn't commit myself.
Then, my wife (Shobha) told me, "Your political career is always there. You haven't tried stage before. Why not try it?"
One day, Ramesh Talwar and Raman Kumar came to me with a subject. I considered it and said yes.
After I committed to it I realised there would be elections in April. I am to travel with the unit in April. In May, we will premiere in India but before that we are playing in the US.
What is the play about?
In Pati Patni Aur Mein, I play the main, the main character. It's an out-and-out comedy.
Many people don't know that comedy is my forte (check out my tongue-in-cheek Q & A column in Filmfare).
I play the third character in a threesome; I play the sutradhar, too.
This play has been done earlier by IPTA. It was called Apan To Bhai Aise Hai and was popular.
It has been done in Gujarati and Marathi, too. Now, it been updated to suit the times today. Raman Kumar adapted it from the original by Manohar Katdare.
What are people saying about your performance?
We had the grand rehearsal, and every one enjoyed it very much.
I was comfortable on stage and though I did forget my lines, I was able to recover in a way that no one noticed.
One of the highlights of the play is a 40-minute-long monologue in the first half of the play.
And here I am able to improvise and bring in a lot of topical stuff like the tehelka.com issue, etc.
So it's worth a see?
My advice is see the play with your wife. And if the wife is your own, that would be even better!
Produced by SoundPicture Communications