ADITI DESAI | DIRECTOR, ACTOR AND PLAYWRIGHT
“When we talk of theatre, girls have always been stereotyped as being just actors. They can’t be anything beyond that,” says director, actor and playwright Aditi Desai. But she has broken new grounds and has received rave reviews for two of her recent plays Kasturba and Akupaar. Unlike other women from the state, Desai found a mentor in her father Jashwant Thaker, who is an eminent theatre personality. “There is not much scope for formal training for girls in the fields of direction, light and sound, set and costume designing, music and script writing. Till 1982, I only received roles as an actor,” she says, adding, “But then, former founder member of Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group, Ila Pathak, gave me an assignment. She gave me a huge file on women’s issues and violence against them, and said that after I read and understand it, she will decide whether I can direct a play based on it or not.” Desai couldn’t sleep for two nights after reading the file since she had always lived a secured life and had never imagined the atrocities women were facing. She, along with Pathak, gathered college students as actors and directed her first play. However, her most profound learning came from directing Kasturba and Akupaar. “These two plays taught me all about the technical aspects of running a play. It has been tough but an endearing journey so far. I wish girls who get into theatre don’t just cast themselves as actors. They must grow,” she concludes.