Veteran TV and stage actor Jayati Bhatia will soon complete 50 shows of her popular English play, Salaam Noni Appa, directed by Lillete Dubey.
“Our slice of life story is based on Twinkle Khanna’s bestseller novel, The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad. Lillete Dubey (Noni) and I play two lively sisters in their sixties. My character Binni is someone who needs something new every time to get her excited. So she gets a yoga teacher, Anandji (Yatin Karyekar) to come home and teach Yoga to her and her Appa (elder sis). Soon chemistry develops between Anand and Noni, which obviously does not wash well with my character and his estranged wife.”
“My character’s other dream is to get Noni’s daughter Mallika, who has just come out of a 10- year-old relationship, married.”
“The basic plot line is about twilight romance. We want to focus attention on the fact that loneliness is a major problem for senior citizens and if love gives you a second chance, it should be grabbed with both hands. Our dialogue writer Adheer Bhatt dwells on the above sensitive topic in a fun way.”
Jayati, who gained name and fame as Mataji in Sasural Simar Ka, has successfully juggled both TV and stage. “It is not easy, but then stage gives me creative satisfaction while tube runs my kitchen.”
“I always ensure that my TV show’s production house has my stage dates well in advance. Also, when I do TV, I do it with full devotion, so even they are ready to meet me halfway.” Her last TV show was Internet Wala Love on Colors.
“Sometimes I shoot half day during my performance and rush to the auditorium for line rehearsals. Agreed, I do get completely drained out by the time the show wraps up at around 11 pm. But then, just being on stage rejuvenates me.”
Here Jayati, who has worked with the best of theater guys (Mody-Kotwal, Feroz Khan and Bharat Dhabolkar), feels a bit sad that today, in the name of commercial plays, frothy presentations are coming on stage. “These guys don’t do more than 10 days of rehearsals before opening night, while we practice for at least two months before going live.”
“It is not wrong to earn money. Even our shows (I have done 14 plays) sell tickets but that doesn’t mean you put stage, green room, backroom ethics on the line. Having said that, I wait for a time when Hindi stage makes as much money as Gujarati theater, where sometimes they do four shows a day. But yes, they too do so without compromising on the above norms.”
“Another sad thing is that today most plays are comedies. Nobody wants to watch a serious topic. Also, gone are the days of song and dance presentations.”
Besides Salaam Noni Appa, Jayatiji is also doing a one-actor play, Khatijabai of Karmali Terrace, based on an Alzheimer’s-afflicted lady. “This Quasar Thakore Padamsee-directed effort will next perform at Prithvi, on the 19th of next month,” she ended.