A treat to watch on stage, captivating everyone with her energy and vibe, actress Delnaaz Irani says that she owes it all to theatre. This World Theatre day, the actress says that she started her career with theatre and loves being associated with it.
“Theatre has been my first love. I started theatre at a very early age. I have learnt everything about acting and about backstage, all the small things that come with this profession, I have learnt every bit of it through theatre. I did my first play when I was 17 and I have been doing theatre ever since,” she says.
She adds, “Before pandemic, I gave 2 years to theatre. I did three plays with a production house called felicity theatre. My last TV show was in early 2019, so before we hit the pandemic, I was only doing theatre. It depends on what makes you happy and the script. If you are enjoying something, go ahead and do it. I have definitely made a conscious effort that I don’t lose grip on the stage. To be very honest, I am like a lioness on stage. I make sure that I rule the stage and dominate my space. I love it. That opportunity, I feel, I have still not got on screen. So, theatre gives me that opportunity to be all out there for my audience. I subconsciously overshadow people. I know my craft and I know what I am doing. It’s my first love. Even if I am doing a serial right now, but still if an opportunity comes and I can give some time to a play, then I will definitely do it. My first play was with Dinyar Contractor and I started in 1989. I simply enjoy it and I won’t leave it. I can’t pinpoint one good reason why current actors have no interest in doing theatre. A lot of actors who have belonged to this space have continued doing it.”
Ask her if a theatre background helps actors act on screen too, and she says, “One cannot really say that theatre actors are better actors. I can definitely say that we are well prepared and more disciplined. There are a lot of things that sets us apart from the others on the set. We come from a background where there are no retakes. And since there are no retakes, you are alert when you are performing. You are alert for other people also, your co-actors as well. This doesn’t really happen in movies or TV, but this happens on stage. You need to be alert for everybody. It’s a different school of acting and that’s why theatre becomes more challenging for actors because you are always looking for that instant response. Most of my plays have been comedy. The instant reaction from the audience, be it claps, whistles and laughter, we have actually experienced all of it. The high that one gets while he is performing and realising that people are so happy with your performance, it’s a different feeling altogether.”
The theatre industry has been heavily impacted during the pandemic, says Delnaaz, adding, “The pandemic has really pushed everyone behind, especially the theatre-goers, the audience, as well as the actors. People who only thrive on doing plays, they have lost a lot. I have known actors and people backstage and they have actually suffered a lot of losses because plays were not happening. But now since everything has started again, theatre is going to bring a lot of happiness back in the lives of people who love to go and watch theatre and the actors performing it. Theatres are not going anywhere. There is still a demand for theatre. Since everything has opened up, people are going to come back and watch plays
Talking about the last play that she watched, Delnaaz says, “The last play that I watched was a fabulous Gujarati play produced by Mr Bharat Thakur. It was called Safarjan. It was based on Kashmir. Today everybody is talking about Kasmir files, well just before the pandemic this play was running to packed houses. I have seen the play three times. I wanted to experience it alongside a crowd in town, a crowd in Borivali and a crowd in another city. I have seen the reaction of the crowd. People have cried, laughed and enjoyed this play. I cannot forget the visuals, they actually got a shikara on stage so it was a treat to the eyes. There are a lot of restrictions when you perform, technically also. You can’t do too many things on stage but the producer had a vision, the director, the writer they all have put such a great show. The meaning of Safarjan in Gujarati means apple.”
Delnaaz has a clear favourite when it comes to her plays! “My favourite play is the latest play that I have done called Wrong Number. The play has legends of comedy like Rakesh Bedi, Avatar Gill, Kishwar Merchant. It was directed by Raman Kumar Ji. It was too much fun. We have done 60 plus shows. If the pandemic had not hit us, we would have crossed the 100 score,” she says.