Appeared in the February 2012 issue of PT Notes
Aadya Shah : How long have you been doing theatre?
Deepika Amin: I think I have always been doing theatre.
As a child, I was in Sushma Seth’s children’s theatre group in Delhi. Then, in college, I joined Barry John’s theatre group TAG in Delhi (this is before he moved to Mumbai) and we did many English and Hindi plays. After I came to Mumbai- TV took over my life and unfortunately theatre took a backseat.
Then I lived in Jakarta for 6 years where I was with the expat theatre group Jakarta Players where I acted in many plays and musicals. I also directed 1 Hindi and 2 English plays there.
Returning to Mumbai, I plunged back into theatre with 3 plays with Lillete Dubey, (Wedding Album, Sammy and Womanly Voices ) and another play with Mahesh Dattani.
AS: Have you done plays in other languages?
Primarily English and Hindi. Some years ago, I did a play in my mother tongue -Marathi - Ammaldar.
Any favourite playwrights?
DA: I have mostly acted in contemporary plays and I feel I have missed out in performing in the classics. Playwrights like Ibsen and Pinter have fascinated me. I would love to be in a classic like Ibsen’s "A Doll’s House" or "The House of Bernada Alba".
Doing more musicals is my longstanding desire (I previously was in musicals like “Annie Get Your Gun”, “South Pacific”, “Pizzazz” etc). I have been learning Hindustani music for many years and would love to be in a Hindi musical.
AS: Can you talk about your experience of performing in Pereira's Bakery?
DA:“Pereira’s Bakery at 76 Chapel Road” has been a very rewarding experience. I have known Zafar for many years as a co actor and he treats his actors with gentleness and sensitivity. With a cast of such wonderful actors, one has been able to learn a lot from everyone.
AS: Do talk about your character, Maria.
DA: Maria - is the earth mother. She is the binding force of her family and wants to do the best she can for them. Yet, she is traditional enough to believe that the final word of authority lies with her husband and will stand by him.
AS: What are your views about the bureaucracy in Mumbai faced by families like the Pereira's, who have lived in a community for a long time?
DA: As I drove to rehearsals in Bandra every evening...I could see the reality all around me. I'd see a quaint little bungalow and think, " Oh this will probably be the next one to go - how long will they hold out?" We must also understand the problems of those living in these bungalows. Maintenance is a nightmare and most cannot afford it. But replacing them with glass skyscrapers is not the solution. Old heritage must be preserved.
AS: Mention some of your other work
DA: I was recently in Shyam Benegal’s film "Well Done Abba". But people still remember me from the well known TV serial Farmaan directed by Lekh Tandon - (for which I got Best Actress) . That time I used my maiden name, Deepika Deshpande.
AS: What are your views on the theatre scene right now in Mumbai?
DA: It mainly lacks venues. There is a lot of enthusiasm for theatre but unfortunately there is no outlet, apart from NCPA and Prithvi Theatre. In terms of creativity and scripts it’s doing great. But theatre is not a revenue generating activity and so a patron is needed.