She is an actor who can be an elite, taunting mother in-law in once instance and a simple housewife in other. Ratna Pathak Shah has broken all barriers when it comes to genres and has proved that versatility is the key to good acting.
“We are actors and this is part of the profession. We should be able to switch roles easily. And as an actor I love doing that. Be it the role of Maya Sarabhai or that of Mrs Patrick Campbell (Dear Liar), I mould myself into the character. I have never gotten stuck to one kind of acting and I am happy that the audience can expect a different Ratna whenever I go on stage,” she says.
Ratna will be in Bangalore for a performance of the play Dear Liar where she will be partnered by husband Naseeruddin Shah on the stage.
“The characters of the play have definitely evolved from the first time we staged it. That is mainly because we have evolved as actors and that reflects somewhere in our performance as well,” she says.
Rubbishing rumours of this being her last performance with Naseeruddin Shah in Dear Liar, she says, "I don’t know why this bit of news has been doing rounds. We have only started. There is a long way to go.”
Having stepped into the shoes of many colourful characters, the shift towards direction was natural with the play A Walk in the Woods starring Naseeruddin Shah and Rajit Kapur. “Switching roles is definitely not at all easy. Direction comes with a lot of responsibility. Suddenly you are responsible for the lighting, the sound, basically everything. But I enjoyed directing the play. I enjoyed the responsibility that came with it,” she says.
After performing in Bangalore over the years, Shah has seen that more and more people are now taking theatre seriously. “The one incident in Bangalore that I remember vividly is when a lady came on the stage right in the middle of our play and started venting out her anger. She was upset someone had parked their car right behind her’s and she couldn’t take out her car. That was the most bizarre moment ever,” she says.
According to her, the field of theatre has evolved in India. She welcomes the entry of youth. "It is just not your urban elite who are involved in writing or for that matter directing plays. People in villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka are using this medium to express themselves and also to spread awareness about social issues,” she adds.
The actor has decided to focus on her theatre career and says that Bollywood is definitely off the list of things to do in the near future.