BWW Interview: Sandip Soparrkar of JANNAT CENTRAL at Prithvi Theatre
Dance and drama are two inseparable expressions that most powerfully define the complexities that life often hurls on us, believes famous Bollywood choreographer and ballroom dancer Sandip Soparrkar. Mr Soparrkar who recently made an impressive theatrical debut with an emotionally charged performance in a dance play titled Jannat Central, that opened to rave reviews at the prestigious Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai feels overwhelmed with the warm and satisfying response a live play performance gives. Humbled to play a central character in this critically acclaimed play, Soparrkar talks to BroadWay World about the thrills of theatre and why he thinks dance along with story telling is the most potent way to engage a live audience.
BWW: You have spent many years performing on the stage through your dance, musicals and now through a play. How do you sum up the thrill of a live performance?
SS: I began my career at a very young age as a Latin and ballroom dancer. The thrill and satisfaction of engaging a live audience as you perform was what fascinated me and I wanted to explore all mediums of this craft. I began doing a lot of musicals, as they are such wonderful representations of humane stories. I spent a few year year in Germany before I moved to India and began doing short dance and drama series for charity events. We soon moved on to perform musicals and began taking them around the world. In between I also completed my PhD in World mythology and I would say that this learning hugely contributed towards giving a depth and understanding to the musicals I made. Many of the musicals that I choreographed, directed and acted in such as Love story of Cupid, Life of Tulsi, Born to Samba (a journey of Samba dance), Hyacinth,When Gods meet (Greek vs Indian gods),Born to love (Indo Korean mythology story) Why Roses are red and many others were very well appreciated. We toured and took them around the world and it was so gratifying to see that everywhere the audiences formed an instant connection with the stories. That for me is the power of a performance. When director Trishla Patel came to me with the concept of this dance drama and shared that she wrote the story keeping me in mind as one of the min characters I was overwhelmed. The play has been singularly effective in bringing to the fore very fragile human emotions and I am overjoyed to be a part of something so important.
BWW: How do you think dance and drama fused together in a play can be a powerful way of telling a story?
Dance and drama or like in India we say Nritya and Abhinaya are like the two sides of a coin. They go hand in hand and form an interesting almost inseparable unit. The way we recognize a pure coin with its sound, in the same way a dance is recognized with a performance, which has both the elements of dance n drama. They are both a form of medium to reach a narrative and strengthen from each other's presence.
BWW: What would you say about the status of theatre in India today. Do you feel that we are at an interesting juncture where we are evoking art forms?
SS: Theatre in India is going very well. While we have a dedicated viewership of English and Hindi theatre but in the interiors of the country regional theater forms the primary form of expression of local and community issues. However I feel the area where we are lacking is the genre of dance dramas or musicals. It's surprising because Indians love their music and dance. It's a part of our culture and forms an integral part of all occasions be it birth or death, marriage or child birth we have a song or a dance for each occasion, so it's a travesty that we still don't use song and dance in our theatre productions. Despite the fact that most of the Indian films are musicals, we are scared to bring the form on the stage. It's sad but true.
BWW: What is the future of theatre in India and what are your future projects?
SS: I see a bright light at the end of the tunnel and I am sure the musical craze will soon capture the Indian market. On a personal end Jannat central is taking up a lot of time. I am currently working on short Indian mythological stories all roped into one dance drama format, besides doing choreography for a French movie. Other than that Bollywood keeps me busy, as I am currently working on about six Bollywood movies. I am also looking ahead to do a lot more meaningful work in theatre.