Actor Saanand Verma has done theatre, but not as much as he would have loved to.
The ‘Apharan 2’ star opines that a good actor is good everywhere, be it cinema, television or theatre. And, he does not agree with the common view that theatre actors are better actors.
“I have seen many theatre actors who are not good enough. Every actor rehearses a lot before their project. Without a doubt that theatre actors take a lot of time to prepare for a play and the rehearsals happen before every performance.
“If I give you an example of a television actor, like if I go to shoot a scene for my character, I don’t even know the line I am supposed to say, I only get to know about it on the floor and it’s then and there that I learn and deliver.”
“Whereas in theatre, you get time to prepare. A good actor is a good actor irrespective of formats and mediums. We should not compare actors based on mediums. One thing that makes theatre fulfilling for an actor is that we get to see the live reaction of the audience. It is a mind blowing kick for any performer,” he says.
The advent of OTT and the pandemic has heavily impacted theatre. There is a fear among many that the art form is at risk of losing its relevance.
“Theatre will always be relevant. It is something which is very pure and high class that cannot just go extinct. Broadway in the US has been there for decades. There are so many plays that have seen 40-50 years of run time and are still going on. People stand in line to buy tickets to watch Broadway plays and musicals. One pandemic cannot take away its relevance. It is immortal,” he shares.
He has seen a lot of plays and used to be a theatre critic in Delhi where he used to visit Mandi House all the time.
“The first play that I watched was ‘Bidesiya’ in Patna, starring my sister Shobhna Bhardwaj in the leading role. She is a very good actor and was so amazing that she made the entire audience cry with her performance. ‘Chekhov ki Duniya’ directed by Ranjit Kapoor and ‘Jis Lahore Nai Vekhya O Jamyai Nai’ are the two of my favourite plays,” he adds.
Veteran theatre actors like Ashish Vidyarthi, Shabana Azmi, Anupam Kher are still doing plays, but, according to some, most of the current actors have no interest in doing theatre.
“The love of theatre is there in every actor’s heart. But actors also want to earn money and money doesn’t come easily in theatre. If they do OTT, cinema and TV, they get much better money so financially they get wealthier. Veterans like Shabana Azmi ji and Anupam Kher ji love doing theatre as they have already achieved a lot in life and are financially pretty secure that’s when they do theatre. Their plays are booked 1-2 months in advance given the brand value they add to it and so they benefit.”
“The new-age actors have a lot to do before they reach there, so they try for other mediums where they get money and creative satisfaction. For example, OTT gives you a lot of creative freedom and satisfaction so people enjoy working in the space. If I get financially secured and everything is perfectly fine and strong then I would also be actively doing a lot of theatre where I get that instant reaction of the live audience,” he concludes.