Actor and author, Aditya Rawal, is not a newcomer in the industry, despite his recent appearances in plays like “As Bees in Honey Drown” and “Faraaz,” directed by Anahita Uberoi and Hansal Mehta respectively. Aditya, the son of actor Paresh Rawal, honed his skills in acting and scripting at the prestigious London International School of Performing Arts (Lispa). He further pursued a Master of Fine Arts in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. During the pandemic, he created the play “Siachen,” in which he will soon make his debut. Joining him on stage is Zahan Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor’s grandson, who also appeared in “Faraaz” and takes the lead in “Siachen.” The play, directed by Makrand Deshpande, will begin its performances at the renowned Prithvi Theatre today. In this interview, Aditya Rawal shares his experiences in writing “Siachen,” his upcoming projects, and more. Read on for some excerpts from the interview:
1. What inspired you to write the story of “Siachen” and what made you approach Makrand Deshpande, who usually directs his own plays?
Aditya Rawal: The Siachen Glacier has always fascinated me since I first learned about it. It represents the highest and coldest battlefield on Earth, where survival alone is a testament to one’s mental and physical strength. However, my fascination deepened when I discovered that no bullets have been fired on the glacier for the past 20 years, yet we continue to send people there. So many lives are lost, and significant resources are spent to maintain our presence. This led me to question why we are compelled to send people to this treacherous place. Through my research and writing process, I realized that the truth is much more complex than I initially thought, and I aimed to explore that complexity.
When Zahan and I, who have nurtured “Siachen” like our own little baby for the past year, approached Makrand sir, we were thrilled that he found the world of the play interesting enough to direct it. Mr. Makrand Deshpande, being a renowned theatre veteran, brings a special touch when he supports and mentors young voices like ours. He elevated our play to another level, and we are immensely grateful to him.
2. Throughout your 29-year career, you have worked as a writer, director, actor, and author. Which role do you enjoy the most, and which one is closest to your heart?
Aditya Rawal: I enjoy wearing multiple hats because, at the core, it’s about storytelling for me. The story is what attracts me, and I strive to bring those stories to life, whether they reside within me or in collaboration with others. In the case of “Siachen,” I took on the role of the writer because the story was brewing inside me, and I wanted to share it with the world. As an actor, I find deep interest in working on other stories and collaborating with talented individuals. The medium, whether it’s theatre or film, is guided by the story itself.
While I enjoy every role, acting and writing have a special place in my heart. Whether it’s writing plays, books, screenplays, poetry, or performing on stage or screen, these roles complement each other and bring value to one another. However, I’m still learning when it comes to directing full-length plays or feature films. I don’t feel ready to jump into directing just yet. I believe I still have much to learn and gain more experience.
3. Besides acting, theatre, and related activities, what other activity do you enjoy the most?
Aditya Rawal: I have been an avid sports enthusiast since I was young. Starting from cricket, I played it seriously until the age of 14. I also played football and handball for my school, primarily as a goalkeeper. After completing school at 16, I began playing football professionally. It has been an incredible journey that taught me valuable lessons about life, myself, and the diverse culture of our country. I had the privilege of traveling across India and playing with people from diverse backgrounds, which enriched my perspective. I still actively participate in football and play competitively with a team called Young Guns in the Super Division in Mumbai. It serves as therapy for me.
4. Who is your role model as an artist, and why? Is there anyone whose performance you have been longing to collaborate with?
Aditya Rawal: I draw inspiration from multifaceted storytellers like Ben Affleck, Charlie Chaplin, and Orson Welles, who took charge of the stories they wanted to tell. They embraced challenges that seemed insurmountable and, even if they failed, they did so spectacularly. Their bravery and ability to wear different hats are what inspire me the most.
5. How did your father, Paresh Rawal, respond to your decision to pursue both acting and writing? What valuable advice has he shared with you based on his own notable experiences?
Aditya Rawal: My father has been incredibly supportive and has always provided me with the right guidance at the right time. Starting out as a writer or actor, it is crucial to receive a balance of gentle encouragement and honest feedback, which I was fortunate to receive from him. Despite facing setbacks and failures along the way, he keeps pushing forward, working on his craft and personal growth. His example is the greatest lesson and advice anyone could receive.
6. What are your hopes and expectations for the upcoming shows? What other projects can we anticipate from you in 2023?
Aditya Rawal: I am tremendously excited to present “Siachen” to the world, alongside our brilliant cast and crew, led by director Makrand Deshpande. As a producer of the play through our company, 72 E Productions, I am eagerly looking forward to the audience’s response.
Apart from “Siachen,” I have another English play in the pipeline called “As Bees in Honey Drown,” in which I will be acting. We have planned shows in Delhi and Mumbai for that. As for 2023, there are more projects in the works, but I prefer to reveal them when the time is right. Stay tuned!
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