Rajesh Tailang and Sheeba Chaddha on their latest show Bandish Bandits and why theatre can’t go digital
Two seasoned actors are standing out from the rest because of their acting prowess in the portrayal of ideal parents in the Indian web space. Rajesh Tailang and Sheeba Chaddha, who were first paired in Mirzapur season 1, return once again as parents in the newly released web series Bandish Bandits on Amazon Prime Video. In Mirzapur, Rajesh and Sheeba’s portrayal of a feisty lawyer and strict father, and a dutiful wife and doting mother, respectively, added to the impact of the drama. In Bandish Bandits, the duo makes the screenplay richer again.
Rajesh plays Rajendra, the son of Pandit Radhemohan Rathod the legendary musician and guru, while Sheeba is cast as Rajesh’s wife Mohini. They are the supportive parents of young Radhe, the protagonist of the show. While the plot focusses on narratives about young people and their dreams, Rajesh and Sheeba have proved that their characters are significant to the script. Both of them reveal they agreed to do Bandish Bandits because they could relate to the script and the concept. “In real life, my grandfather and uncles are musicians, I am the only one in the family who is always out of tune,” says Rajesh, adding, “I have grown up listening to riyaaz (practice) that would start at 4 am every day. Another reason for me to be part of this show is that it is set in my state, Rajasthan.”
For Sheeba though, it was not just an interesting script. It was the challenge of playing a layered character that attracted her. “I am very happy with my role. She appears to be a regular matriarch, but there’s more to her. Also, music is an integral part of the storytelling, and that was another reason for me to do this show. It has brought back Indian classical music to the mainstream,” she explains.
Whether on- or off-camera, both actors seem to share the same sensibilities, perhaps because of their common theatre background. When asked what they think about theatre-going digital due to the pandemic, Sheeba says, “It is a very difficult time for theatre. I have watched some videos where people have tried to create theatre digitally. It just does not work for me. However, there are people who have created some cutting-edge and path-breaking work like Simon McBurney of Théâtre de Complicité in London, who gave us The Encounter. Although it was not meant for the medium, it still works digitally. You can’t just capture theatre on screen; you will have to create a new language, something that we have never seen before.” Rajesh agrees, “Even if it works, it won’t be theatre, you will have to call it something else. Theatre doesn’t happen on stage; it happens in the audience. This experience cannot be captured on camera.”
Though Bandish Bandits has received mixed reactions, the actors have earned appreciation for their roles. Next, both Rajesh and Sheeba will be seen in Mirzapur season 2. Meanwhile, Rajesh is also set to release his book of poetry titled Chaand Pe Chai.