Films are a by-product of theatre: Neil Bhoopalam

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By HT

Mumbai, July 30 -- He may have expanded his fan base with his Bollywood outing opposite Anushka Sharma earlier this year, but actor Neil Bhoopalam has been a popular name in the city's theatre circuit for many years now, especially for his long association with the renowned theatre company, Rage.

He is currently busy with the rehearsals of two new plays - Rage's One On One 2 and Kalki Koechlin's The Living Room. Post one of the rehearsal sessions, we caught up with the actor to discuss theatre, his equation with Kalki, and more.

You are in the middle of two premiering productions. Are you nervous?

Yes, I do feel nervous before premieres. I never took a break from theatre as such. Even while working on NH10, I used to rehearse for The Merchant Of Venice (a play that Neil starred in). But I am working on two dramas simultaneously after a long time. This is a different kind of rush. I have just been busy between rehearsals. My wife tells me I have no time for her (laughs). Recently, we opened Kalki's play in Bengaluru, so there was a lot of pressure before that. The play was well-received, so that eased out the nervousness.

Several young artistes consider theatre a stepping stone to films. Did you have such thoughts when you started out?

Honestly, I am not very clever. I cannot think so much into the future. I started doing plays when I was 19. Films happened eventually. I believe, for me, films are a by-product of theatre. Also, in my head, acting across mediums is the same thing. At the end of the day, it's a performance. Even if I am doing a radio play, it's still acting.

Kalki and you have worked as co-actors in the play, Hamlet - The Clown Prince, as well as in the film, Shaitan (2011). How was the experience of being directed by her?

Kalki and I have been friends since before she started her film career. And often, you don't take your friends seriously (laughs). It was a new experience for me also, because I have never worked with a first-time director. But she knew what she wanted from the project, and she has written a very clever piece. After a few days into our rehearsal, we all got into the rhythm of things.

Is Kalki a better actor or director?

She has a director's vision. I hope she does more work. She came as a big surprise to all of us. We were wondering what took her so long.

Have you ever thought of directing?

I would love to direct a film as well as plays in the future. But I am not born with the skills to do so. So, I want to work my way towards both.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

There are a couple of things in the pipeline. But more than a project, I want to explore the online medium. The Internet is definitely the next big thing, and the entire world has access to it. Also, there's no issue of censorship there.