Though it was a pure coincidence when he got his opportunity to act, he instantly knew that this was what he had always wanted. Even after making a name for himself as a renowned theatre actor, his constant desire to push himself has made Vinay Varma what he’s today. Apart from heading theatre group Sutradhar and Sutradhar Casting House, the Hyderabadi dons several other hats as a director, voice-lender, dubbing artiste, script-writer, translator, casting director, acting trainer and more. In Chennai currently to act in a play called Five, written by Shreekumar Varma, Vinay opens up to DC on several topics.
On how it all started
Vinay starts off the conversation on a nostalgic note. “Initially, I didn’t know anything about theatre. But like all youngsters, I was keen to act. Hyderabad, though, had only limited opportunities at that time. But my chance came when I was doing my masters — a person asked me if I wanted to act in his play. Though I had never done anything like that before, I thought, ‘why not?’ After acting in my first play, I was convinced that this is what I should be doing,” he says.
On the evolution of theatre
Having been in this field for more than three decades, Vinay, who has directed about 30 plays, and has made more than 200 performances across India, the Middle East and London through 50 odd plays, compares the theatre scene when he started with the modern-day theatre. He opines, “Those days, before the advent of internet and lack of accessibility to resources, our job was difficult, but interesting – it was more like preparing dum biryani! We didn’t know what was going to happen, but we kept working until we were satisfied. One major change I find now is that barring a few theatre groups, many seem to be uprooted — westernisation has made an impact in theatre too. Leading your life the way you want to is okay, but on stage, you’ve to go back to your roots.”
Traits to become a good theatre artiste
Speaking about the characteristics that are necessary for an actor to succeed in theatre, Vinay says, “I think artistes should always have some kind of uncertainty in mind before going on the stage — it propels him/ her to perform better.”
He goes on to state that one should constantly get inspired from the real time characters — “I never have one idol in mind, whom I try to emulate. I, instead, learn from every person in one way or another.” He also opines that physical fitness and mastering breath control are absolute must for any artiste.
‘Stardom is the death of theatre’
Vinay warns that artistes will have a downfall when they start feeling like a celebrity — “Stardom is the death of theatre. I’ve seen a lot of people, who think they’ve become a celebrity, after finding themselves in newspaper articles — they shouldn’t get carried away.”
On the theatre scene in Chennai
Sharing his thoughts about the Chennai theatre scene, Vinay says, “I have not seen a lot of Tamil theatre, but I know that it’s vibrant. I met a few people, who do socially relevant plays — it sounded impressive. I’ve heard great things about Koothu-p-pattarai, Crea-Shakthi, thespian en and Perch too.”
On the play Five
The ace performer concludes, talking about the political drama, Five, directed by Ajit Chitturi and produced by thespian en, which he is in the city for. “Shreekumar Varma has written it so well that I think it would be relevant even for 50 more years! People in Tamil Nadu, with the current political happenings, can relate to it very well — for that matter, people from any part of India can resonate with it. It’s more about the power struggle, and not about political parties,” he says and signs off.
(Five will be staged on August 27 from 6.30 pm at Sri Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall)...