Lakshmi Manchu will soon be seen as the evil principal Agatha Trumpbull in Matilda, however, this won’t be a film. Lakshmi, instead, will be back to theatre scene. Directed by Taher Ali Baig, Manchu teams up with Tollywood actor Aadarsh Balakrishna along with other theatre actors and a lot of kids from the city for this play. And, the play’s message is clear — read more books.
“I was hesitant to take up the project because of the time and effort it takes. But my sister-in-law Viranica guilted me into doing it,” says Lakshmi, who did an undergraduate course in theatre. “I used to tour in America and stage children’s theatre, so it is like revisiting all of it. It’s incredible to see all these kids and their raw talent,” she says, adding, “I learn a lot from theatre — there is confidence and discipline. All actors should do theatre because the audience reacts instantly. You draw on their energy. In films, you do a scene and don’t know if you have made it to the final cut.”
Describing the play, director Taher says, “I always wanted to do Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I picked up instances from all the books, movies and the plays. While the basic storyline is the same, we have improvised it. Matilda deals with telekinesis, which is why I liked the story. It’s also about a girl who enjoys reading.” Taher also reveals that Lakshmi was uncomfortable, at first, to play a negative role, since her daughter would also be watching the play.
Tollywood actor Aadarsh Balakrishna is also back to theatre with Matilda. But, he will be the narrator, he says, “I open the story and all of it is happening through my eyes. This is my second play, after Blithe Spirit, directed by Taher again.” He adds, “Entering theatre wasn’t a conscious decision. I received a few offers, but took this up since it was a children’s play.”
Interestingly, the play also takes a dig at Donald Trump, as the trio is upset about him being elected as the next US President.
The original character, called Agatha Trunchbull, was later changed to Trumpbull at Aadarsh’s suggestion.
“Trunchbull sounded similar to Trump. We improvised it since the principal is also tyrannical,” says Aadarsh, adding, “I was upset with Trump being elected.”...