An Artist’s Mirror
Screenindia (largest selling newspaper in Bollywood-indian express group)
An Artist’s Mirror
A film made by theatre veteran Sunil Prem Vyas is slated to present the insights of an actor’s passion and pursuit to delve into creative experiments.
The best theatre actors are known for their ability of multitasking. It’s not hidden from anyone that a theatre actor has to go through a tedious rigmarole of backstage costume and appearance changes. Their ability to adapt to such pressures and come out with clinical precision makes us appreciate their professional efforts.
A film called The Artist will now offer a window into the theatre actor’s world as it showcases two actors playing 22 characters in a one night, single stage performance. The film’s unique story has been developed by theatre artiste Sunil Prem Vyas, who is a part of the Darpan Theatre Group in Mumbai and has written, directed and acted in several plays for the past decade.
Prithvi (Sunil Prem Vyas) and Sapna (Mamta Bhatia) are the lead characters of the film and they play two stage actors who accidentally, after their show, get locked up in a theatre one night. Having no way to get out and nothing else but the stage and costume at their description, the two decide to kill the time by doing what they do best, stage a performance. In the overnight drama, the two end up performing as 22 different characters with Prithvi doing a number for 17 while Sapna plays five different people.
“The late veteran actor Sanjeev Kumar once portrayed astonishing 9 characters in a film called Naya Din Nayi Raat and amazed the audiences. It is not possible to compare such great legends to new generation actors like Mamta and me, but we have tried to live all 22 characters to the fullest of our capabilities as artistes” remarked Sunil Vyas. Vyas has also heralded the duties of the director, writer of the film while his co-star is film’s producer.
Mamta Bhatia too is well versed with theatre, as she’s been working with the Darpan Theatre Group for six years now. Shooting for The Artist was the first time Mamta was facing the camera and her debut was not something she was dreaming about. “Being the producer was anyway a responsible job and I was not keen on adding the actor’s responsibilities as well. But Sunil thought I could do it and he insisted on me playing the part of Sapna. Shooting for the film was very tough but we worked like a team as we do in theatre. We had full rehearsals and a small workshop for the film as well. I learnt a lot from Sunil remarked Mamta.
Vyas wanted his film to be authentic in its presentation of the portrayal of a method actor, hence he decided to go the theatre way and shoot the scenes in their actual series at a go. The team first rehearsed the entire film’s scenes as is done with any play in theatre. They wanted Mamta, who had no prior experience of working in front of the camera, to get used to the exercise. In fact Vyas’ pursuit of gentility also had them have no retakes. “We chose to act out scenes without any retakes, because such cinematic liberty isn’t available in a live stage performance. I wanted the film to feel authentic and to improvise on our talents as actors was the best way to do so,” said Vyas.
The Artist, as a film, explores the passion of an actor and it carries the entire gamut of human emotions, originating from an artist’s psyche. Elaborating on the same Vyas explained how he used a Joker as a negative character to create conflict in the story. “The actor in Prithvi, my character, decides to experiment with the situation and actually ends up living the role of a Joker. He draws interest in the story by making most of the situation where a woman is trapped with him in an auditorium all alone. Thanks to the Joker, the film’s story has everything ranging from the good to the bad and pleasant to foul.” Said Vyas.
The Artist is Sunil Prem Vyas’ attempt to contribute to quality cinema through a modern and revolutionary subject. His unique story does lend a fresh appeal to the film as it promises to reflect into the world and passion of theatre and stage actors.
By Rachit Gupta, Screen India.