Language is no barrier for actor Rashmi Patel, when it comes to showcasing her talent. Having acted in Marathi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Hindi and English plays, she has also made her mark in regional cinema.
Lead actress of Rajasthani film 'Laado Marudhara ki Shaan', she has given electric performances in plays like 'Dhakani Bhar Paani', 'Kisi Aur Ka Sapna', 'Usne Kaha Tha', 'Follow the Light', 'Khuda Khair Kare', 'Dhurt Samagam', 'Ginipic', 'Woh Subah Kabhi to Hogi', 'Call Me Captain Robert', 'Ashad Ka Ek Din', 'Uski Jaat', 'Rani Chelana', and many others. She has also acted in tele serials including 'Chanda Sethani' and 'Anjaam’ (based on women liberalisation) and some short films like 'Broken Dreams' and 'Mukammal' which brought her fame and awards.
Currently, busy with her film project 'Salam Kursi', a political satire produced by Filmoniya Productions, the actress was in Odisha for her play 'Yug Purush: Mahatma key Mahatma’ when My City Links caught up with her for an exclusive interview. Excerpts.
Tell us about your play 'Yug Purush: Mahatma Key Mahatma' and your role in it.
The play is about the spiritual relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and Shrimad Rajchandra (guru of Mahatma Gandhi). Even today, not many people know about him as he had died at the early age of 33. Nonetheless, the fact remains that if he would not have been with Gandhi during those days, Gandhi would not have become a ‘Mahatma’. In the play, I am playing three to four characters but it is the character of Ms. Polak's that is extremely important to me. Polak was the friend of Mahatma Gandhi.
How did you happen to get the offer to act in this play?
I have acted in many Hindi plays but never acted in any Gujarati play. Although, my family originally hails from Gujarat, we had settled in Rajasthan. So, performing in the Gujarati version of the play was quite challenging for me. Interestingly though, despite the challenge of speaking the language, I am acting in both the Gujarati and Hindi versions of this play; and so far have staged around 1800 shows in different states and countries, and in seven different languages. This is definitely a huge achievement for me. Our next show will be staged in Nepal.
How has Mahatma Gandhi inspired you in your life?
Even after having studied in Mahatma Gandhi International University, there was very little that I had come to know about Gandhi himself. My knowledge was limited only to the pages of the textbooks. Instead, it is during the course of this play that I learned more about him. We even went to Sabarmati Ashram and later to Rajkot. Learning about Mahatma made me understand a few things about life – if you fall, pick yourself and march on. If you cannot run, walk; if you cannot walk, then crawl; and if you cannot crawl, then at least try to move yourself.
You have acted in both films and theatre. Which one do you prefer more?
It is a difficult comparison. Being an actor, it does not matter in reality. Nevertheless, since theatre requires live performance, an actor gets an opportunity to show his/her emotions directly to the audience, whereas in films, there can be multiple retakes. But still, I can say I love films but I live theatre.
What inspired you to take up acting?
My father was a theatre artist. Even, I had pursued theatre as one of the subjects during my graduation years. It was at that time that I got an opportunity to act in some plays and people appreciated my performances. I realised that I should take up acting as a career.
Be it the case of actress Bidisha or Anjali, there has been a rise in suicide cases recently in the film and fashion industry. What do you think could be the reason behind such incidents?
These days, cut throat competition can be seen in almost any field of work. One has to struggle hard to be successful. Everybody wants to be successful. But I think money, fame and family matter a lot. Sometimes, people may achieve fame but have to do without their family’s support. But when people get trapped between their personal and professional life, maintaining a balance between the both becomes challenging. This is when some people take such drastic steps.
What is your take on nepotism that is alleged to be widely prevalent in Bollywood? Have you ever had any setbacks from a lack of a godfather in the film industry?
Most certainly, I hate 'nepotism'. At times, it can be depressing when somebody not as good as you, takes away your opportunity for the sole reason that he or she belongs to a film family. But then, talent and hard work do hold their own merits. If you are talented and willing to work hard, nothing can stop you from shining.
What would be your advice to budding actors?
First, one needs to decide whether he or she wants to stick to the industry. If one is eager to be an actor, then one has to be patient under all circumstances and tide through all challenges.