VINAYA WALAVALKAR – MANTRI
Team TNV’s Vinaya Walavalkar Mantri introduces us to yet another renowned personality from the field of theatre and films. This time she in conversation with Bhimrao Mude a young film and theatre director from Mumbai.
Q. How did you get associated with theatre?
As a young school boy we had organised a play for our annual gathering, unfortunately the play never happened. When I was in college one of my teachers selected me for a play and introduced me to the drama group of our college called the ‘Natyamandal.’ In my first ever play I was appreciated by all and my journey with theatre began which laid down the path for me to become a director.
Q. How difficult was the journey from college to commercial theatre?
I was lucky to get an early break in commercial theatre but in future, roles were not so easy to get. I was continuously giving auditions and meeting new people taking references but to my dismay, I got to know the harsh reality that it was very difficult to get a role. Meanwhile, I started gathering children and doing plays on a small scale at Ganesh mandals, election rallies, contract shows etc. From these shows I started making some money and while doing this I started working in various technical departments of dramas. While working in these departments one of my friends Santosh Kanekar pointed out that I was good in direction. Later on I joined director Rajesh Deshpande as an assistant to get some learning experience. I wanted to make a name for myself in this field but financial problem was a major hurdle because of which I could not join prestigious institutions like National School of Drama (NSD) and Film and Television Institute of India(FTII).
Q. What was the support you got from college?
I studied in Maharshi Dayanand Mahavidyala (MD college), which nurtures and supports extracurricular activities. The Principal Mr. Rajadhyaksha supported us a lot and he used to also accompany us many times.
Q. Did your family support you?
I don’t think many families would support their children to take up this field because of its uncertainties. I convinced my parents and later they accepted it and it is only because of their support I am in this field.
Q. Tell us about your journey from theatre to movies?
My hard work paid off as I got to work from theatre to movies at a very young age. Not many in this field are so lucky. It is a very challenging field and I proved myself to earn my work. I did theatre as well as serials on most of the regional channels. I worked in different programmes- comedy, family drama, thriller, criminal etc. I also did short films, documentaries and ad-films. At just 25 years of age I got to work for ‘Davpech’ and ‘Kaul Manacha’ which were multi starrer movies.
Q. What do you think about the plays in present times?
The script is the soul of any play and I find the soul missing in plays nowadays. They give me the feeling of fast food. The values in theatre are slowly diminishing in present times. Earlier, plays were used to cement the base of the actors while now they are more of a stepping stone to serials and movies. In present times the theatre has become more expensive and the remuneration is comparatively low. Television and cinema has also propped up as a lucrative option for upcoming artists. This is causing a serious dent to the quality of theatre. Even the purity of language is another concern altogether. We need to preserve our language and theatre is an effective medium to do the same.
Q. What do you have to say about the present day scenario?
Theatre is no longer lucrative anymore. One has to do a side business to sustain his family. A person cannot be completely dependent only on theatre. Till there is no audience the situation is not going to change. Money is another major factor.
Q. How do you see the response of audience? Has it changed over the years?
Nowadays the audience depends on the reviews before they watch a film or a play. The audience has become more intelligent.
Q. What advice would you give to the youngsters who want to come in this field?
Those who want to come in this field have to give a complete dedication to the theatre. More than publicity one has to invest in learning and has to be sincere in his efforts.