Actor Shreyas Talpade, best known for his performances in films like Iqbal, Dor, Om Shanti Om, Golmaal Returns, Housefull 2 and others, has come up with an OTT stage called Nau Rasa, which in his words “Technically First of all “. OTT is dedicated to the performing arts. The actor said that the stage has “everything that is done on stage – there will be drama, dance, singing, stand-up and so on.” It will feature plays from across the country and the actors are planning to expand it internationally through collaborations. In an interview with Indianexpress.com, Shreyas opened up on the idea behind the OTT platform. The actor stepped down from memory lane and re-watched his school and college days and told us about his first experience watching a theater play and being a part of one.
The 45-year-old spoke about his Bollywood innings, the difficulty of breaking stereotypes as an actor, and his dreams as an actor and filmmaker.
Tell us about Nine Rasa?
The idea came during the epidemic when the lockdown was imposed. This was when everything was happening online. During that time, a lot of my friends were worried about how the theater was going to survive. When we thought of making the OTT stage exclusively for performing arts. Initially, the plan was to shoot a play and bring it to another stage, but we felt there was a great need to make the theater reach more people.
Do you remember the first play you saw in the theater?
The first drama that I saw was a Marathi drama called Karga (contract in English). Like many people, I too thought it would be boring but my mother forced me to. I wanted to play cricket. So, naturally, I was not in a happy space but the moment they started performing, I was in a different world. By the end of it, I was surprised. That is how I started watching plays regularly. I joined the Drama Society of the school because I did not want to act, because I wanted to be a part of magic.
What was your first play as an actor?
Once for Teacher’s Day, every class had to perform. We decided to put a play on modern Ramayana. But a few days ago the girl who played Sita went out. A friend of mine suggested my name (to the teacher) for the role of Sita. When I came to know about it, I was like, “How can I be?” This is a role for a girl. “I used to write scripts. Therefore, my friends were like you already know the dialogues so you would be the best. And finally, it became the class’s izzat ka sawaal. So, only Marad and Marad were awakened. That’s how I ended up becoming Sita. My school loved my performance, I became popular but being on that stage gave me a lot of confidence. Similarly, the following year, I played the role of Draupadi in the modern Mahabharata.
Did you realize that acting is your call?
In college, around eight to eight after my first lecture, I used to go to the play room and sweep all over the floor and then start my rehearsal. I remember once I was alone and sitting there, at that moment I realized – this is that and there is nothing else I can do.
Did the theater background help you in Bollywood?
Theater has given me the confidence to take on the challenges of my director. As an actor, I would never say that I cannot do this part. When you applaud someone for their versatility, it’s because the theater gave them the confidence to try to say no. These actors do not give up. According to my experience, most of the actors (who are from a theater background) are revered. We have respect and attention is given to it. We may not be good at marketing, but when it comes to performance, we know that our *** is very good.
But if we still look at your journey after receiving accolades for Dor and Iqbal, you typecast as a comic actor. Was that disappointing?
After doing Dor and Iqbal, I met a director, who was making a comedy film, which is a big franchise today. I auditioned for him but he said that my image is of a very serious actor. He was not sure if the audience would accept me. I felt very bad. Soon, the applause rang for me when Golmaal came my way. After releasing it, the same director came to me to appreciate it. However, multi-starrer comedy was a thing at the time. I didn’t even realize that I did back-to-back comedy. I finished the typecast. I realized that breaking that image was a task. Now, I want to remind people that I can do something like Iqbal. So, let’s see when this happens. But to be honest, making people laugh is important yet difficult. I am looking for a script that challenges me as an actor.
I do not regret it, but yes, my ability as an actor is unclear. There is so much more. But I enjoy my work. I enjoy comedy. They (people) enjoy my work. People still come to me and are happy to see me. I saw some decline (in my career) but life has not stopped.
You turned a filmmaker in 2017 with the Potter Boys. Can we expect to do anything on that front soon?
There is a film in which I am acting and also directing. It is called a slice of life, a service to the government. While there is humor, you will see my serious side in the film. We have completed 50% of the film but then this whole coronovirus epidemic occurred. We are hoping to resume the shoot by the end of May.
Going forward, what changes would you like to see in the film industry?
I think this is changing big time with the entry of OTT. There are many new talents and their performance is unprecedented. they’re amazing. The way the screenplay is written has also changed drastically. With OTT, audiences have tasted good content. Expectation from the audience has increased, which means we have to pull our socks off.
How will you complete your Bollywood journey?
Interesting for a guy who had no contact. I believed in my work and the fact that only your work can get you more work. I have got my trust now where I am. But I think the journey is just in the beginning (phase) because if we look at Amitabh Bachchan sir’s journey, he took a break, Kaun Banega came back with a millionaire and since then, he is invincible, which is also because He has this hunger to perform in his stomach. So, if you have such that there is no stopping despite being in the steps where you think you are doing. But the end is when you die, until that time, you don’t know what the journey of life is for you.