In conversation with Rajat Kapoor - Tête-à-tête at Guwahati Theatre Festival

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In Conversation with Rajat Kapoor

Sidharth Bedi Varma | November 18, 2017 14:39 hrs

In what can only be described as a treat for Guwahati, G Plus hosted the second edition of Guwahati Theatre Festival. Much like the first edition, a stellar cast waltzed into the city and shook it up. To bring to you the best, we spoke to veteran actor, director, producer and filmmaker, Rajat Kapoor on his second visit to the Guwahati Theatre Festival.

Rajat Kapoor is the director of ‘What’s Done Is Done’, a clown adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth performed on the fourth day of Guwahati Theatre Festival. Rajat Kapoor is now running 4 Shakespeare Clown plays which are Hamlet, As you like it, Lear and Macbeth.

This is your second Guwahati Theatre Festival experience. Tell us about it?

Rajat: I think it’s becoming one of the nicest festivals in the country. I’m very excited and intrigued by how an individual’s passion can actually start making a difference. It always starts with one man saying, ‘I want to start’ and then you bring other people around and start making an effort to build it. I think it’s in that phase where it will have a very long term impact.

As a director, is it difficult or challenging to ask your actors to perform ‘dark’ characters and plays?

Rajat: I don’t think actors or directors consider ‘dark’ as a bigger challenge or a funny play as a bigger challenge. I think everything is a challenge. I can say that as a filmmaker also, because I’ve been writing for more than 20 years. I think my craft has gotten better. Every script, every play, comes with its own unique challenges and every one of it comes with its own puzzle which you have to solve all over again. Everything is a challenge and you take it up only because you like challenges.

Your experience with the team of ‘What’s Done Is Done’?

Rajat: I’m very lucky that a lot of good actors are willing to work with me and some of them are also very close friends. Vinay (Pathak) has done Lear, Hamlet, As You Like it among others and so we’ve done about 5-6 plays together. Obviously there’s a lot of understanding between us. There are also some I’ve not worked with before. This was my first time working with Jim Sarbh and the energy they bring with them is phenomenal.

My process is of ‘not knowing’. I never tell my actors to do ‘this or that’. I start with them and let them improvise. And every day they would improvise and we would slowly build the play on that. We don’t know anything about a bouquet until we see a nice flower and then decide to add another flower and more such elements until we make a beautiful bouquet of out of it. That is how it works.

After a play is done, you go backstage and give your team a feedback. How does that go?

Everyday there’s a new observation. I’m one of the few directors who watches every show of his plays. It is my job to see that the play keeps getting better every time. We have to keep tightening something and improving something. And of course, there are actors who might have missed something on stage. So you keep giving them a feedback about what could be better or what could have been done differently. I think I’m kind and encouraging, but you have to point out the flaws because that’s how you get better.

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