Rajat Kapoor: I don’t work towards making a character

Rajat Kapoor discusses clowning in theatre, and the role it plays in disseminating free expressions
Vinay Pathak
Vinay Pathak

Even though the premise for the act was inspired by William Shakespeare’s King Lear, the play itself has nothing in common with that classic tragedy, which assuredly does not feature a clown in its plot. Yet for actor-turned-playwright Rajat Kapoor, clowning and Shakespeare have always gone hand-in-hand. The crowd at Hyderabad theatres is soon to witness Rajat’s Nothing Like Lear — The Bard of Avon retold through clowning. Starring veteran actor Vinay Pathak, the viewers will be taken through certain events of joy fraternised with pathos entrenched in a father-daughter relationship or maybe, the absence of it. 

Speaking of the ‘clown play’ Rajat tells us, “A clown will exaggerate any emotion in a specific way, which will heighten the effect. Grief, shock, or wonder are among the examples. I don’t work towards making a character. My approach was to work on an adaptation of a text which was true to me.” Despite being based on a classic play, Nothing Like Lear has always struck a chord with audiences who have seen it being performed live. While discussing the distant and isolating relationship between an elderly father and his daughter, the play also dives into themes concerning depression stemming from the aforesaid fractured and conflicted connection between the two. 

The whole point was that Rajat and Vinay were telling King Lear's story but from an ordinary man’s perspective. Nothing Like Lear has its share of comedic moments as well as sorrowful ones — Vinay fleeces out his step-brother’s eyes for not having ‘dreamt for 20 years’, for being dismissed as nothing more than an ‘illegitimate’ son. He also breaks into a Shakespearean monologue while berating his daughter for booting him out of her home. But, one of the more intriguing ones is when the actor takes the stage and declares, “It hasn't started yet.” Likewise, Vinay also manages to inject humour into the production by interacting with the audience and even delivering dialogues that are specifically tailored to the audience. 

“Vinay plays several characters, not just one. He is playing the father, the fool and the daughter. He shifts from one character to the other. Through all of it, we try to get to the larger picture of the play. The play is titled Nothing Like Lear and truly so. But also, it is very much like King Lear. During the rehearsals, I was sure that I wasn’t interested in the plot at all. But I was interested in the depth of the play. So, we started looking at all the themes — the potential ones in King Lear — parents and children, loss of power, wasted brother, blindness, homelessness, and madness. We started working with and improvising around these themes. We started telling our stories. Through all of that, the play appeared as it exists now. It’s Nothing Like Lear for a reason,” Rajat tells us. 

On March 3 and 4 at Rangbhoomi and Ravindra Bharati respectively 

E-mail: chokita@newindianexpress.com

Twitter: @PaulChokita 

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