ac­tor den­zil Smith talks about his love for stage and more

Governance Now - - CONTENTS - Ac­tor

Den­zil Smith is a stage and film ac­tor who has fea­tured in sev­eral In­dian and in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tions that have achieved both crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess. Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House was based on par­ti­tion in which he played the role of Jin­nah. He also ap­peared in The lunch­box and Bom­bay Vel­vet. Be­sides act­ing, he hosts jazz tribute con­certs on In­ter­na­tional Jazz Day. In 2006 he founded Stage­smith Pro­duc­tions to pro­duce In­dian English Theatre rooted in home grown nar­ra­tives. He has trained in voice at the Na­tional Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts and does voiceovers for com­mer­cials, cor­po­rate films and doc­u­men­taries be­sides con­duct­ing voice work­shops in theatre in­sti­tutes and col­leges in India.

What are you read­ing at present?

The Book of Cho­co­late Saints by Jeet Thayil

What do you feel is best about the craft of act­ing?

The abil­ity to step into sev­eral peo­ple’s shoes.

Any mem­o­rable mo­ment while per­form­ing on stage?

it was when Ben Kings­ley came to my dress­ing room to con­grat­u­late me af­ter a per­for­mance of Let­ters to A Daugh­ter from Prison di­rected by Vi­jaya me­hta. i had played the role of Pan­dit nehru. se­cond was when the set crashed on me in the mid­dle of a per­for­mance on stage in mum­bai many years ago.

Why is it im­por­tant to have lo­cal nar­ra­tives in English theatre?

All art is a re­flec­tion of life and vice-versa. Sto­ries of our peo­ple, events of the past and present act as a mir­ror and hope­fully help us see where we are go­ing or not go­ing.

How is the theatre scene chang­ing with time?

many new theatre com­pa­nies and play­wrights are be­ing born. Theatre seems to be thriv­ing. How­ever, we are in need for many more per­for­mance spaces. While the num­ber of theatre prac­ti­tion­ers has gone up, the num­ber of the­atres has re­mained the same if not di­min­ished.

Your views on new age cinema?

cinema in india has never been in a bet­ter space than it is now. Films are be­ing made in all kinds of bud­gets, for all sorts of au­di­ences in different lan­guages. If only the ar­chaic cen­sor­ship sys­tem were changed there would be many more ex­cit­ing move­ments to look for­ward to.

Who has been your great­est in­flu­ence in your life?

my fa­ther who i lost at the age of 11 and ac­tor naseerud­din shah. i re­spect naseer as my guru and teacher.

Governance is­sues that af­fect you the most.

sim­ple things like roads, lack of dis­ci­pline, cor­rup­tion ev­ery­where, pseudo-na­tion­al­ism, rule of the mob, free­dom of speech, cen­sor­ship, etc.

Have you ever been at the re­ceiv­ing end of mis­gov­er­nance?

sev­eral times!

How can the gov­ern­ment pro­mote dra­mat­ics, cinema and arts?

it needs to start small ini­tia­tives at dis­trict lev­els in ev­ery dis­ci­pline and put some se­ri­ous money and re­sources into it. The arts should be in­cor­po­rated deeply into the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. gov­ern­ment should make it a rule for all schools to have the nec­es­sary fa­cil­i­ties to foster all forms of arts.

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