Actress Juuhi Babbar Sonii has been a prominent name in the TV and Entertainment industry for a long time. Not just TV and films, Juuhi has been a thorough contributor in the field of Theatre. In an exclusive chit-chat with IWMBuzz, Juuhi talks about her journey in the creative field of theatre, the various struggles which Indian theatre faces, the future of theatre in India and a lot more. Read to find out –
You have been a thorough creative and contributor in the field of theatre? In today’s time and age of films, TV and web series, what keeps you motivated like this for theatre?
Well, there’s no doubt about the fact that films, TV & web series gives you all the fame, money, accolades and what not but nothing, absolutely nothing compares to the live reaction of the audience when you perform. I personally like to perform in ‘intimate theatre’, the likes of Prithvi Theatre and NCPA where there’s a direct connection with the audience and the distance between the audience and the performers Is also negligible. Besides, I have had people who have come up to me to say things like “ We know that if it is your play and performance, we must be seated within the first 6-7 rows to get the best out of you. “ Nothing beats this feeling and that’s exactly what keeps me motivated.
What according to you is the difference between theatre in the western countries and theatre in India? Also if there’s any vacuum, how can we fill that gap?
So, I feel that the difference isn’t exactly about western and Indian but primarily more of the commercial and non-commercial form of theatre. Unfortunately, we lose to actors to commercial forms and TV, etc because of the money deficit. The money on the western side is certainly a lot more but if you see intricately, non-commercial theatre in the West isn’t doing the best as well. So that’s the main thing. But yeah certainly, compared to here, the status and respect of theatre in the Western countries is a lot more. That’s certainly true. The only way I feel by which we can fill the gap is by paying our actors better and by increasing the finances. Corporates and sponsors need to feel comfortable in investing in theatre. Getting corporates and sponsors in Indian Theatre is the most difficult task.
What according to you are the struggles that the Indian theatre scenario faces?
Well, the answer to this will be pretty much similar to the answer to your second question. We need more money and more finances. Otherwise, it is going to be really difficult.. I mean, why will corporates invest in building theatre auditoriums when they know that they will be running under losses? We certainly need to find out a way to tackle this issue.
People tend to complain a lot about the high ticket prices in theatre. What according to you is the reason for that high price?
Well, I beg to differ. People don’t mind spending 1000 rupees on stupid films and popcorns to munch but they mind spending 500 rupees for a live show? I don’t get it. I don’t want to take anything away from the cinema or TV or web. I respect all the platforms but to question the ticket prices of theatre is something I don’t understand. Yes, I agree that some big production plays are expensive but then until and unless we generate decent revenue, its difficult right? Everyone needs to understand that.
Lastly, what according to you is the future of Indian theatre scenario in the next 5 years?
Well, I see a lot of experimental stuff happening and I see youth taking an active interest in theatre a lot more than before. I do see more interest in art and I truly hope that in the next 5 years, the scenario will improve. There are a lot of alternatives today and in fact, stand-up is also an offspring of theatre. The culture is probably spreading a little more in today’s generation compared to before. A lot of colleges have drama clubs as well that work wonders. I have been pioneering the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival for the last 7 years now and I have always been doing my best to promote the youth because they are the future who will take things forward. So I hope, the youth collectively work together to take theatre in a more respectable and stable position in the near future.