Friday, July 12, 2024

Anurag Kashyap was once a waiter at Prithvi Theatre: This place is a Mecca for artists; No financial gain, yet the Kapoor family saved it


Mumbai15 hours agoAuthor: Virendra Mishra/Abhinav Tripathi

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This time in Reel to Real we will learn about Prithvi Theatre, one of the oldest theatres in the country.

Prithvi Theatre is situated at a prime location just behind the famous Juhu Beach in Mumbai. This place is no less than a Mecca for theatre artists. There is a gathering of artists here all the time. Dramas and plays are always going on here. This theatre with a capacity of 190 seats remains housefull 6 days a week. The rate of tickets here is also very cheap, so the theatre does not earn much.

The foundation of Prithvi Theatre was laid in 1944 by actor Prithviraj Kapoor, who is known as the pillar of Indian cinema and theatre. However, it was constructed as a building by his youngest son Shashi Kapoor. Currently, Shashi Kapoor's son Kunal Kapoor looks after its entire management. People associated with Prithvi Theatre say that if Shashi Kapoor's family wants, they can sell it for crores of rupees, but they do not see it as a business.

Big filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap used to play small roles in Prithvi Theatre. They used to sleep on chairs here and also worked as waiters.

In the new episode of Reel to Real, we will learn about the iconic Prithvi Theatre –

Prithviraj Kapoor laid the foundation of the theatre, started the Jholi tradition to collect money
Theatre artist and director Om Katare, who has been associated with Prithvi Theatre for many decades, said, 'Every small and big artist of the country wants to touch the stage of Prithvi Theatre at least once. Prithvi Theatre was conceived by Prithviraj Kapoor sahab. He used to travel to every corner of the country and perform plays. For this, he also started the Jholi Pratha.

After the play was over, all the actors would stand with their bags open. The audience sitting there would voluntarily put money in it according to their capacity. Prithviraj Kapoor would then distribute that money among the actors. Prithvi Theatre was built as a building by his younger son Shashi Kapoor.

Crores of rupees can be earned by selling it, but the Kapoor family does not see it as a business
Shashi Kapoor and his wife Jennifer Kendal built Prithvi Theatre with great devotion and hard work. Om Katare said, 'The land where Prithvi Theatre is today was given by Prithviraj Kapoor to his younger son Shashi Kapoor.

If Shashi Kapoor wanted, he could have started a hotel or started some real estate business here, but he thought it better to build a theatre in his father's name. Shashi Kapoor sahab used to say that he is not a businessman but a person associated with art, so he wants to take art forward. Today Shashi Kapoor sahab's son Kunal Kapoor is also taking care of his father and grandfather's legacy.

What do I have to do if I want to play in Prithvi Theatre?
If a drama company wants to stage a play at Prithvi Theatre, they first have to submit an application. If the authority feels that all the details are correct and the play is worth staging at Prithvi Theatre, then they are given a date. After getting the date, the drama company has to pay a fixed rent.

Anurag Kashyap once worked as a waiter at Prithvi Theatre
Vikas, another theatre artist associated with Prithvi Theatre, said that big directors like Anurag Kashyap once worked as waiters here. They used to sleep on chairs here. Anurag used to play the last role in famous actor Makrand Deshpande's play. There are countless people who have emerged from Prithvi Theatre and have become big names in the world of TV and films today.

Anurag Kashyap has directed films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Masaan, Black Friday, Raman Raghav 2.0 and Dev D in his career.

Anurag Kashyap has directed films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Masaan, Black Friday, Raman Raghav 2.0 and Dev D in his career.

Theatre art is not considered a profession, showing shows for free is the most harmful
What is the biggest challenge for a theatre artist today? Om Katare said, 'The biggest challenge is to make an identity. Even today people do not consider theatre art as a profession. People think that this is being done only for hobby.

The reason for this is that even today many theatres show shows for free. When we don't keep a value for our work, then how can we expect that someone will respect us. That is why I appeal to all the theatre companies of the country not to show shows for free.

Economic benefit from Prithvi Theater is very less
Vikas considers Prithvi Theatre as the Mecca of acting. When Shashi Kapoor started it, there were only a few theatres in the country. Shashi Kapoor's family does not get much financial benefit from Prithvi Theatre. It has a capacity of only 190 seats. The rate of tickets is also not kept high.

Shashi Kapoor and his wife Jennifer had formed a charitable trust. The donations that come in are used to maintain Prithvi Theatre. Now a cafe has opened here. The income that comes from it is the biggest benefit in a way.

Directors used to come to watch the play and take away the artistes from the theatre
15-20 years ago, it was very important for an artist to do theatre. It was here that it was decided whether they would come into films or not. Directors used to assess their talent here. Directors used to come to watch plays, and if they saw any actor performing well, they used to cast him in their film. Now with the advent of casting directors, the relevance of theatre artists has diminished a bit.

Like Prithvi Theatre Why did RK Studio, another legacy of the Kapoor family, have to be sold?
Like Prithvi Theatre, the Kapoor family also owned 'RK Studio' as a property. However, Rishi Kapoor sold it after consulting with his brothers. The money received was divided among the three sons of Raj Kapoor.

Om Katare says, 'Selling RK Studio was the right decision. There was no one to manage it. We could not leave the entire responsibility on the employees. On top of that, there was a huge fire there once. In such a situation, Rishi Kapoor, along with his brothers Randhir and Rajiv, decided to sell it.'

Raj Kapoor founded RK Studio in 1948. In 2017, a large part of RK Studio was burnt due to fire. Only after this the Kapoor family decided to sell it. It was owned by Raj Kapoor's three sons Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor.

Raj Kapoor founded RK Studio in 1948. In 2017, a large part of RK Studio was burnt due to fire. Only after this the Kapoor family decided to sell it. It was owned by Raj Kapoor's three sons Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor.

Om Katare said that Prithvi Theatre is still surviving because Shashi Kapoor's son Kunal Kapoor manages it himself. He often comes here, holds meetings with the staff. He himself gets involved, that's why Prithvi Theatre is still surviving today.

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