Theatre is foundation of acting — Aziz Quraishi
Mr Aziz Quraishi, the general secretary of IPTA (Indian People Theatre Association) has directed 10 full-length plays—Anarkali, Ghalib, to name a few—and has acted in more than 50 plays under the direction of distinguished personalities of theatre such as Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Ranjit Kapoor and others. He also possesses some extraordinary writing skill, which was shown in six full-length pieces, i.e. Baba Afsar, Teesra Rukh etc. In an interview to Uday India, he talked about elaborately on various aspects of theatre, the competition it is facing from films, TV, etc. Excerpts:
What is IPTA and could you tell us about its role and nature as an organisation?
IPTA, i.e. Indian People Theatre Association, is an apolitical, patriotic, cultural group dedicated to meaningful and socially relevant theatre established in all over the country. It is neither an overall federation nor a body. Actually, it’s a movement. In every state and university, people make their own groups and work for it at their own ends. For more than five decades, the group has been targeting and raising its voice against the exploitation of economically and socially-weaker sections of the society.
Many mediums like radio, TV, etc, are adopting new tactics to attract the audience. What are you doing to attract the people to the theatre?
Theatre usually creates new concept in many ways like framing the exploitation of women, suffering physically and mentally, and the problems of farmers and landlords.
What are the new topics you are working on?
New topics like corruption, satire on political setup, and two faces of politicians are the focussed ones now-a-days, as compared to past, when India got freedom. Then education, caste ratio, etc, were the targeted issues. But society’s problems will come continuously and the creative minds, thinkers, and intellectuals will try to overcome them and search for the way out.
What are the criteria on which you select any issue?
There is one group with hundreds of problems. We take these issues one by one, firstly focusing on the particular issue that is highly sensitive and hurt the public’s emotion in some manner or the other.
In executing a play or drama, what are the hurdles you encountered with?
Our main problem is that we are not financially viable, and people do not come to us. Rather we have to reach to them and do some flattering to convince them, to attract them. In films there is a glamour content, which is absent in theatre. What we do involves a lot of hard work—whichever play we do it takes from one month to one-and-half month for preparation, resulting in only one or two shows. And if we have to do the show again, then we need to do the whole preparation again. For us, it’s like we have to dig a well daily and than drink water. It’s not like films, where one success establishes one forever.
As in the past, eminent Bollywood personalities like Prithviraj Chauhan and others proceeded from theatre to films. Is it also happening in the contemporary time, and how much is it helpful?
The theatre is foundation of acting; there is presence of acting in films and radio and if foundation is strong, then it will help you scaling the new height of success in the future. Though a small group of people goes through the theatre to film line these days, the advantage of being in theatre—they don’t take more time to learn the dialogues. In a Film, which is a very costly medium theatre persons are given more preferences, as they are more conversant with acting and give their shots in one go, which helps a film economically, compared to non-theatre persons, who have to give 10 to 15 takes for a shot, and that too, in not one go, but in several breaks.
By Sonia Chawla