|Lilette and Neha Dubey with Shernaz Patel (left) in Breathe In Breathe Out. Picture by Pabitra Das
The mother is 92 years old, lonely and living in her feisty past. The daughter is 28 years old, sprightly and forever scoffing at her future predicament. On stage, the mother-daughter duo mirrors the same individual in various phases of life. Off stage, their lives are intertwined, but they are busy charting different courses to stardom.
Flying down to Calcutta on Friday morning, grabbing a quick lunch at Waterside Café, squeezing in a rehearsal… The tight schedule had left Lilette and Neha Dubey almost out of breath before taking the stage for Breathe In Breathe Out in the evening.
But the seasoned actress sailed smooth with lissome daughter matching every move, captivating a cocktail audience at Hyatt Regency with an absorbing adaptation of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer-winning play Three Tall Women.
For some time now, Lilette has stopped working on western plays, concentrating on original scripts by Indian writers, instead. But Albee is an exception. “Breathe In Breathe Out is universal and complex. I have loved the play for years,” says the actress, juggling theatre and films with grace and gusto.
Ready for release are three films — Mahesh Dattani’s Morning Raag, Bappaditya Roy’s Sau Jhuth Ek Sachh and Anjan Dutt’s Bow Barracks Forever (the last two also featuring Neha).
“But films are not a full-time occupation for me. There are certainly not too many great roles for actresses of my age and I don’t want to waste my time in Bollywood. Films like Bow Barracks… and Monsoon Wedding, with a different kind of sensibility and made with a passion, are what interest me,” says Lilette.
Next in line is a brush with the camera, but from behind it. Playwright Mahesh Dattani has penned the script for a feature film “very close to my heart”.
The yet-untitled film about human relationships and performing arts has a three-women-one-man cast and features Neha in the central role of a classical dancer.
“I will take two to three months off just to focus on this role and improve my dancing skills,” says Neha, who also plans to strike the right balance between films and theatre like her mother. “I am not willing to do commercial films. Two or three interesting projects a year is fine,” she adds.
Having clinched a major role in one of London’s famed West End production, Neha will stay put in London for the next five months. Dubey Jr essays the role of Olivia in Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night, set in Kerala to give the play an Asian flavour.
“I had auditioned very casually and never ever dreamt of landing the role. I am thrilled to bits… I will be learning so much,” chirps Neha, also excited about her forthcoming films The Perfect Husband and My Bollywood Bride.
While Neha packs her bags for London, Lilette is busy fine-tuning her latest stage offering, Zen Katha, which opens in August.
Lights out for black comedy
Striding into a dark room, Jayant Kripalani turns on the lights and focuses them sharply on the handful of people waiting to hear him speak on his new theatre project. Running a series of video clips about violence on women, the theatre veteran unwraps Lights Out, the play his school-leaving cast of five will stage at GD Birla Sabhagar on July 17 and 18.
“It’s pure black comedy and is about how we all are in denial when incidents of violence on women occur around us. I can say that the audience will identify with the characters,” says Kripalani, who has conceived the show and just let the youths do what they wanted. “And I am having a blast,” he adds.
Scripted in 1985-86 by Delhi-based writer Manjula Padmanabhan, Lights Out deals with domestic abuse on a woman and the way it upsets the complacent equilibrium in the neighbourhood.
The show is part of the Peaceworks project that Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre conducts with school students, and is co-sponsored by Sanskriti Sagar and Swayam, an NGO working for women.
Shorn of any furniture, the set boasts a backdrop by artist K.G. Subramanyan, no less. “Manida had done a series of window paintings some time ago. When Naveen (Naveen Kishore of Seagull) asked him to design the set with the window in mind, he readily agreed,” says Sumit Roy, in charge of lights. That the on-stage action is “mostly visible through the window” is all Roy is willing to divulge.
For Swayam, bonding with the Peaceworks project is one of the ways it wants to spread awareness about violence on women. “Culture is an effective medium of change and this forms a part of our programmes for raising awareness about closed-door violence,” says Anuradha Kapoor of Swayam.
After Hidden Faces last year, Lights Out is the second play by Padmanabhan to be staged by Peaceworks in a span of two years.
“Because Peaceworks tries to promote some sort of peace and we believe in theatre for change,” explains Kripalani, who is planning Hindi and Bengali adaptations of the play as well. Peaceworks intends to take the show across schools and colleges.
Strike a Subi pose: Esha does what they all love to do
A dwarfed Aftab, a king-sized Sunjubaba baring his tattooed shoulder, Big B and Little B having a blast in white, Sush screaming her pretty head off, Diya dipping in paint… Mumbai-based ‘star’ lensman Subi Samuel will troop into town in end-July with all these images among 100 magic moments he treasures. “I cherish the photo featuring Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan. I am proud of the Diya picture, too. Bipasha Basu, looking very pristine in one, is also a personal favourite,” reveals the fashion photographer, who loves to click people “who like to experiment”. A bevy of Bollywood stars and models has promised to pep up the Best of Subi show in Calcutta.