A Theatre World Presents


Two people... Journey... that clusive joy... the moments  in it.


'I enjoy any role that challenges me'


Lushin Dubey’s new play Muskaan deals with the sensitive yet serious issue of HIV and AIDS, Based on real-life stories, Lushin says the purpose of the production is to spread awareness about the disease and in some way help those suffering with it deal with the problems that come with it...

The issue that the play revolves around is quite relevant today. Was this a deliberate choice?
Yes, I would say so..it was a conscious and very deliberate decision. But like I have said in my ‘Note from the Director’, on my web page – www.lushindubey.com. There was a lady working extensively on HIV in India, the wife of a diplomat, who I met in Washington DC, where I was performing both my earlier solos, Untitled and Bitter Chocolate… (at the Smtihsonian and the World Bank amongst other Institutions). Who asked me what I was doing next. I said possibly a comedy. She said, why? There are many doing that. Look at HIV as a subject, the more we talk about its gravity in India the better. It was said at an evening dinner. I simply smiled and did not ponder on this conversation, but strangely, when I came back to India, from my tour I found myself delving into books, pamphlets, any material on HIV. Finally I was standing on the doorstep of Anjali Gopalan’s (an inspiring and remarkable lady;) Naz Foundation, a care home for those living with HIV. This is where I interviewed many, conducted my research and just spent time with them. My play is an expression of this feeling, the time spent with them.

How easy or difficult was it to tackle something as sensitive yet serious as HIV? Especially if it is based on real stories…

I think when you are dealing with a subject, as potent as say, an illness, which you are not experiencing, some one else is, the closest you can get to honesty in performance, is to enter their space for a while. I can never feel what they must feel however, just being with them, sharing their day, their angst, their fears, their joys helped a lot. I am often accused of being oversensitive as a person perhaps here is where it became my strength. I cried with them, I laughed with them and I learnt not to be afraid of them. This is the main thing even for me, it took me a while to realise that nothing is going to happen to me if I just spend time with them. Nothing, Their biggest pain, is the stigma they face.
Has the play been staged in Delhi, if yes, what was the response?
It has been staged in Delhi. I have performed to audiences such as, elite crowds in the India. Habitat centre and then to workers in East Delhi. It was received very well. In fact my invitation to perform in New york came after my sponsor saw it in Delhi. I perform my plays in Hindi or English or Hinglish, depending on who is seeing it. In Mumbai it will be mostly English, though the character of Chitra, one of the protagonists, may be more of Hindi. Daman and I often sense the audiences and improvise the lesser or more of either of the languages on the spot, just then and there;

Will this be the first performance in Bombay. If yes, they what kind of response are you expcting?
Yes, this is going to be my first performance of Muskaan in Mumbai.

What reaction do I expect?
Well, my plays are mostly about a connection with the audience. If the honesty in this production comes out, if Daman my co-actor and I are able to reach out to them, connect with them and they journey with us, what more can we want?

Are you expecting a different audience reaction, considering that both cities are so different in culture?
Human beings are pretty much the same every where…not just in cities in India, but also overseas. My plays The Life Of Buddha, Untitled on womens' empowerment, Bitter Chocolate based on Pinki virani’s best seller of the same name on child sexual abuse, and now Muskaan have been staged amongst workers and the elite, here in India and in the US, England and Edinburgh. Everywhere I find reactions are based on sensitivity to the subject which is pretty much the same everywhere. Empowerment, abuse, the need for peace, these are subjects which have a resonance the world over;
You have been in theatre for a long, long time. What kind of theatre do you enjoy performing in. serious comedies or dramas like this that have a social message?
I enjoy all kinds of theatre haven’t done much comedy though, I recently enjoyed playing Lady Macbeth in Alyque Padamsee’s Macbeth was wonderful working with Alyque, Raell and the whole team. That’s another playwright who I love shakespeare’ I enjoy any role that challenges me.

What happens after Bombay? Are you planning to take it to other cities as well?
Yes, Muskaan is travelling.

Lastly what are some of the other projects that you are presently working on?
Just started working on my next project. Its really at the drawing board stage. I have finally, I think, found a script. So let us see, Hindi script writers are not easy to find, the English bit is not so tough, because I do the translations myself but finding a Hindi script writer… phew! This time its really taken a while. I hope this one is there to stay!

Muskaan will be staged on May 15, 7 pm and on May 16, 7 pm at the NCPA Experimental Theatre.

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