All the worlds a stage when it comes to honing acting talent. Theatre has always been a ready pool for Bollywood as well as television when it comes to sourcing the finest of actors. Now, OTT as a platform seems to have taken cue.
With the rapid surge in popularity of streaming sites as platforms of entertainment, a new breed of actors with a theatre backgrounds, who were waiting for the right break, have emerged as household names. On World Theatre Day, we look at these prominent names in the digital space who owe their roots to the theatre.
Chandan Roy Sanyal
Actor Chandan Roy Sanyal, who won new fans with his act in the popular series “Aashram”, is a well-known name in the theatre circuit. He says the medium taught him “humanity”.
“I think the biggest takeaway for me is humanity. It teaches you how to treat everyone equally. I did revive my theatre in lockdown. I worked on two pieces. One is ‘Dumb Waiter’ by Harold Pinter, A British comedy and created another show called “In between, which is about a bunch of actors in an audition room. And I hope to bring to the stage this year,” said Chandan.
Sumeet Vyas, who proudly acknowledges owing his grooming as an actor to theatre, was one of the earliest starters on OTT. He has been working in digital shows from long before it became a fad, having made his first streaming impact way back in 2014 with The Viral Fever show, “Permanent Roommates”.
Lately, too, Sumeet has emerged as one of the busiest actors on OTT platforms. Last year he was seen in shows as diverse as “Official Bhootiyagiri”, “Wakaalat From Home” and “Dark 7 White”, besides the web film “Unpaused”. This year so far, he has had a pivotal role in Mahesh Manjrekar’s war drama “1962: The War In The Hills”.
“Theatre has given me everything. My upbringing as an artiste happened with a theatre company. I was 17 and it’s been 20 years since then. So, everything I know about cinema, stories, human beings and life is through theatre. Theatre taught me that nothing is permanent. You cannot hang on to success or failure,” he said.
Namit Das found ready takers in the digital space last year with consecutive shows “Aarya”, “A Suitable Boy”, and “Mafia”, after making his mark in 2019 with the shows “Abhay” and “Table No. 5”. Namit who has been seen on and off the Bollywood screen since 2009, has been part of the theatre world since 2002.
“I think one of the biggest takeaways has been discipline and the fact that you have to be there and the show never stops for anyone. No actor, technician is bigger than the story that you are putting up. When you have the show in the evening and your tickets have been sold and the audience is coming, there is no getting away from the fact that this might not happen. Everything happens. So, this belief in the bigger sense is controlling you and you realise that you are one small part of it. This is one of the biggest learning from the world of theatre,” said Namit.
For Aahana Kumra, working in theatre for a decade gave her the streak of fearlessness while facing the camera.
“When I professionally started performing theatre in 2011 in Naseeruddin Shah’s play ‘By George’, I rehearsed for it for 4-5 months and that changed me. It was the first time somebody had paid to watch something I performed. So, that was an emotional moment for me. I also felt very responsible that we speak to society through stage. Theatre started because there was a communication we were trying to build with our audience. It has led me to be what I am. It lets me be fearless, it lets me experiment and that is something which so many mediums don’t allow us to do. Theatre allows you to grow which no other medium has done. I see a lot of fearlessness in actors who come out of theatre,” said Aahana.
Freddy Daruwala, who will soon be seen in the web series “The Incomplete Man” and “Inspector Avinash”, is known for his roles Gujarati plays. Although he isn’t able to give much time to it nowadays, the actor has found a way to balance it.
Talking about what theatre has taught him, Freddy said: “It teaches you preparation and practice, which is a very important tool. It will make your performance a little better than others. If you are prepared then you won’t think so much about how you will go for the lines.”
He added: “I do want to go back to my theatre. To balance, when I know I can’t do theatre, I do theatre workshops with my friends who have done theatre or are doing it. It helps me gain confidence and puts me back into the roots of my learning.”