By Deepa Punjani
Shubhrajyoti Barat directs Arthur Miller’s The Price, which opened at Bandra’s St. Andrews auditorium on 16th June 2012. He has been noted for his performances and his recent work as an actor include the well-received plays, Stories in a Song and S*x, M*rality and Cens*rship,produced by Sunil Shanbag’s theatre company, Arpana. Shubhrajyoti, or Shubro as he is popularly known has worked extensively with Nadira Babbar’s theatre group, Ekjute. In the year 2000, he worked with the late playwright-director Chetan Datar for Vijay Tendulkar’s Baby. His television credits include Jeevan Sathi on Colors and Farz and Bulbul Bagh on DD. He has briefly written for television and has penned the dialogues for a film called Escape From Taliban. Shubro has also acted in a short film called Boond by Abhishek Pathak. With The Price, he returns to direction after a hiatus.
Deepa Punjani: What interested you to direct The Price?
Shubhrajyoti Barat: I stumbled upon the play many years ago, in fact in the 90s. When I re-visited the play recently, the parallels between the American urban middle class of the 60s and our situation today prompted me to direct this play. This is apart from the fact that this is a fantastic script.
DP: In your direction, what are the aspects you focus on?
SB: While doing this play, I had made a conscious decision to let the actors have as much a free hand as was practically possible. This is a text oriented play and I felt that the actors needed to develop a deeper understanding of the text. Till the blocking stage, I had decided to let them explore as much as they wanted to.
DP: Tell us a little about the plays you have previously directed
SB: I haven’t directed much. I had done a dramatized narration of Tagore’s Shesher Kobita about six years ago with Tom Alter, Sumit Vyas, and Preity Gupta.
DP: How were you introduced to the theatre? When did you start?
SB: Well ... this was in 1990-91 when I was still in college. A firebrand intercollegiate theatre director named Sabyasachi Deb Burman introduced me to the stage. I did a few workshops with Satyadev Dubey, Jayadev Hattangady and others, which you could say was the norm, and went on to join Ekjute theatre group in 1993.
DP: What has been the most memorable play you have done so far?
SB: More than one play and each for different reasons. Sandhya Chhaya with Ekjute for a solidly written text, Baby with Chetan Datar because it led to an enduring friendship and Mastana Rampuri Urf Chappan Churi with Sunil Shanbagh for re-affirming my faith in directors.
DP: In your long years of experience, which are the theatre people you have enjoyed collaborating with? Why?
SB: Sabyasachi Deb Burman because he initiated me into this field, Nadiraji of Ekjute for providing me an opportunity to hone my skills, Chetan Datar for his depth of understanding and for re-orienting my perspective, and Sunil Shanbagh for being one of the most knowledgeable friends, philosophers and guides I have known. I know Sunil might flinch at the philosopher tag
DP: Plays that you wish to direct...
SB: A play about Tagore’s non-fiction writing is in the offing. Then there is one about hundred years of Indian Cinema, yet another play about my personal encounter with a man who got executed in Kashmir ... lots of ideas. Let’s see how it turns out.
'The Price' stars Harsh Khurana as Victor D'Souza, Satyajit Sharma as Walter D'Souza, and Sheikh Sami Usman as Sulaiman Bhai; Meneka Arora and Preeti Gupta co-star.