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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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BEING IN SHADES OF GREY

Actor Yashpal Sharma, known for his meaty roles on celluloid, was in Bhubaneswar to perform at the National Contemporary Theatre Festival. The actor seemed to be ill at ease with certain practices of the film industry that he is part of. While sharing his anguish with t2, he also predicted the future of Bollywood.

You are a graduate of the National School of Drama and also played pivotal roles on the silver screen. How do you judge the distinction between theatre and films?

Unlike the popular notion, most theatre actors would love to be part of the films. In fact, people go from theatre to films but we rarely see film stars doing theatre. The only difference is that theatre is about some meaningful work while 80 per cent of the Hindi films made are utter nonsense. Of the remaining 20 per cent, only five per cent can be categorised as unique films that leave their impact on you. Quantity has increased but quality remains a far-fetched dream.

How do you see the future of theatre in coming years?

I believe, one need not do a detailed research on theatre or its future.

Those who want this art form to grow should simply act. We need to understand that only 95 per cent marks will not groom a kidís personality. Theatre does a world of good to children who learn more about life on stage than from books. They learn to improve relationships. Theatre inculcates the ideals of being a good human being. We also need more child artistes and young dramatists.

From a rogue in Gangajal to an honest cop in Rowdy Rathore, you have played both positive and negative roles. What kind of roles do you prefer?

Yes, I have played a wide range of characters, but I donít take up characters by judging their virtues and vices. In fact, an out and out hero with no vices at all, exists only in south Indian films. Any nicely written character can never be completely white or black; they always lie in the shade of grey. But since the question is raised, I would like to say that in the wake of recent crimes against women, I feel Bollywood and its actors need to check the portrayal of violence and sex. I hate films like Jism, Murder and Raaz. We must manifest ideals of gender parity and women empowerment in action.

You were a part of Gangs of Wasseypur in which character actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Richa Chadha were immensely appreciated for their acting. Do you feel the Hindi film industry is going through a change and opening doors for actors of all genres?

I can give it in writing that the concept of Ďstardomí will end soon. Soon, there will be no hero and villain in films. People are getting sensitive about issues. Now, larger than life characters canít easily fool them. These films have no shelf life. They are like item numbers. Once Halkat Jawani comes, people forget Sheela ki Jawani. History will tell you that films made with the motive to earn money are never remembered. With time, spineless characters will be shunned and those playing more real life and substantial characters will take their place.

How was your Bhubaneswar experience?

It was mind blowing and I promise I will visit Odisha again very soon.

While my comic drama Yaar Bana Buddy was on, people were very attentive.

And later during the seminar too they showed keen interest in understanding theatre. But I also noticed an unfortunate thing. With an exception of Natyagram of Subodh bhai (Subodh Patnaik, director founder of theatre group, Natya Chetana), I could not see active participation of women in the theatre festival. Women artistes and aficionados must come out and make the most of such opportunities.

Text: Pratyush Patra

Pictures: Ashwinee Pati