Your play lasts for two hours fifteen minutes and only you feature in it. How challenging is the experience of a one-man act play?
Frighteningly challenging! I can only describe it like that. It is like going to the warfront without any ammunition. You just have to fight with your bare hands. In other plays, I’m supported by my coactors, be it during rehearsal, back-stage or during the performance on stage. But here I cannot even have a glass of water for it might distract my audience. My only break comes after one hour twenty minutes into the play.
The play begins in the guise of an interaction with your audience. Why did you feel the need for taking out the line between you, the narrator, and your audience?
My director had wanted to start the play in a traditional manner where the lights dim and I come on stage. But I insisted that I must come in and make the audiences feel like they are a part of my life. They should not sit prepared with the objective distance of an audience but be disarmed by the reality I present to them. Thus I joke with them and walk around and some where there the play starts and they are eased into my life quite effortlessly. My idea was to make my audience travel with me on my journey rather than sit with binoculars and observe me from afar.
Despite the country having a rich theatre tradition the audience for it is alarmingly dwindling. What do you think is the cause?
That depends on your venue. Whenever I’ve performed in Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai or Mumbai, I can feel the audiences are very different. The audience in Delhi, with all due respect, take their own sweet time. Theatre has to have its discipline, because the actor is investing his life to create a moment in front of a live audience. I would rather the play does not start late, because in a way it disrespects the people who arrived on time. Though my organisers tell me to start, I wait for the stragglers to come in.
You have had your own share of ups and downs in life. How did the philosophy of ‘Kuch bhi ho sakta hai’ [Anything can happen] evolve from that?
It was easy to laugh at my own ‘downs’ in the play. But as they were happening sadly it was not laughable. The philosophy of my play comes from the way I have lived my life. We are always complaining about things. I am not the complaining type. I am not a thinker, I am a doer. I will rather act on adversity than crib about it. Complaining can only bring you momentary satisfaction but it does not liberate you. I weaved this idea into my play because I am an eternal optimist. I have learnt that optimism is the only way to live. All other ways are frustrating and tragic. You have to believe that life is beautiful.
At the end of your play you mentioned that you have grown stronger with each performance. Could you elaborate a little on that?
As an actor also, I am constantly challenged while performing Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai because I go through my life all over again. I have to relive every moment to make them credible for my audience. But if I was asked to change anything in my life, I would not touch a thing. I have become the person I am today because I’ve lived the life I lived.