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Ashwin Gidwani and Mahesh Dattani
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'The production cost me a little under Rs 40 lakh'

Ashwin Gidwani, producer

The Alchemist has been a long, interesting but difficult journey. Putting together the production team took me about two years. Adapting a book in theatre is one of the most difficult things I have done. It took me six months of letter-writing to get the rights from Paulo Cohelo. We finally managed to get it, and today, we have a full-fledged, magical and mystical play.

When Deepa came on board, it took three-four months to get the first draft. Then, it took a year to get a director, the cast and the team. Mahesh and I auditioned 300 people for the parts.

I have worked with Mahesh earlier, and know that he is a very sensible director. He can understand this kind of text. His experience goes back 20 years.

When I started on The Alchemist, I looked at it from the business point of view. Over a period of time, I realised it wasn't just business but also passion, understanding and being sensitive. I had to go down to a certain level of simplicity and humility to deal with Paulo Cohelo's group. That's the only language they understand. They gave us creative freedom. But I had a huge task. I had a book that has sold 100 million copies worldwide resting on my shoulders.

The production cost me a little under Rs 40 lakh. Out of this, Rs 15 lakh went into research only. It's a 90 minute musical.

If you haven't watched The Alchemist already, catch the play on April 30, at St.Andrew's Auditorium, Bandra and on April 1 at Tata Theatre at NCPA and also on April 25 at Bangalore.

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