New Delhi | Playwright Saif Haider Hasan, known for directing dramas like “Ek Mulaqaat” and “Gardish Mein Taare”, says the concept of commercial theatre is changing and India will soon attract Broadway-like culture with bigger names from cinema taking a plunge.
Hasan, whose latest play “Mr and Mrs Murarilal” was fronted by actor-director Satish Kaushik and TV actress Meghna Malik, is known for roping in big names for his dramas.
“The concept of commercial theatre is undergoing a change.
Earlier, the commercial theatre had a lot of gimmicks. There was high production quality but the content would be in the zone of a drawing room comedy, a sex comedy or maybe a spoof or an adaptation. All these were primarily English theatres or adaptation of Broadway,” says Hasan.
The playwright says there was no commercial theatre in Hindi, which is limited to regions like Delhi, which has a very strong culture because of NSD, and Bombay (Prithvi theatre).
“In Bombay, there was Marathi theatre, which was the theatre of the rebel where you had playwrights like Vijay Tendulkar. Then you had the psychological theatre with Satish Alekar, Mahesh Elkunchwar. But the commercial theatre was not there in these languages and it was looked down upon,” Hasan told PTI.
Known for his lavish productions, Hasan says the idea is to tell the audience an engaging story and making it “an experience”.
“What I did with ‘Ek Mulaqaat’ was, I brought a very niche subject which you would usually do sans any frills and I sort of put it in your face with the casting (Shekhar Suman and Deepti Naval), lighting and original music. Now if you call that commercial theatre, so be it,” he says.
“The ambition is not that we are making a commercial theatre, the idea is to tell a very engaging story. Earlier, it was done only with dialogues but now we are making it an experience. Now if you are depicting a night, please make it look like a night. We use lights to do that. These lights are not just for effect, they convey a certain meaning.”
Hasan says his plays can be branded commercial as he is trying to bring more people by using inventive ways.
It is commercial because there is money which goes into its making and it needs to be recovered, he says, justifying the ticket prices.
“That is the only way we recover it. So if you have a Shekhar Suman or Deepti Naval or Satish Kaushik and a director like Saif Haider Hasan, you will get great production quality and there will be expenses. So, you need to pay for it.”