Breaking into Bollywood: Through the Theatre...

Danny Sura , 16 Feb 2012
Danny Sura
…in kurta salwar, mard lagey Punjabi!

Mumbai meri jaan, lo mein aa gaya, wapas! Which means, more stories to share with you all, so read on.

Playing Inspector!

So where was I? Ah, my journey to Bollywood stardom. One of the first things I did as soon as I landed in BOM, was knock on the doors of theatre production companies, asking them if they needed a good looking Brit-Asian actor new talent to join their theatre group. Okay, now you all must be thinking: “Whaaat? He says he wants to make it to Bollywood, and there he is ‒ chasing plays??” Well, I thought being on stage would be a fantastic exposure, the money will keep me from starving to death, and just like back home, I believe if you rake in the praises in theatre, you’re given more credibility as an actor.

August: Osage County
August: Osage County poster

One of the doors I knocked at, with my portfolio, was that of Primetime Theatre Company, run by the great Mrs. Lillette Dubey. Out of the blue, a few months down the line, I was called for an audition, at Lillette’s place, for a Pulitzer-winning play titled August: Osage County. As I entered her luxurious pad I saw another actor, who came to read for the very same role. “My competition,” I thought to myself, with a smirk. The atmosphere couldn’t be more intense, as if two cowboys were meeting for a duel. Then he got up from the sofa and towards me. “Is he going to whack me?” I wondered, and prepared myself for any eventuality. As he got near me, I quickly raised my hand to… shake his! I wished him the best of luck, too.

…with Lillette Dubey

The read through went well, and the feedback I got? My Brummie accent’s too strong, and that it needed to be toned down, a good deal, IF, I got the role, that is. I learnt that the other cast members were already finalized, and the part I auditioned for was the last piece of the jigsaw. Who was Suchitra Pillai? Meeta Vashist? Sandhya Mridul? Amar Talwar? Denzil Smith? Kitu Gidwani? Nope, no idea; didn’t ring a bell to me, at all.

The cast
The cast of August: Osage County
The cast of August: Osage County
The cast of August: Osage County

Skip to a few weeks later when I have been offered the role and we all assembled at Madame Dubey’s house, for the first time. I was shocked when they all walked in: I didn’t know the names but I definitely knew the faces, and the talent!  “Lad, you have bitten off more than you can chew,” was all I was mumbling to myself.

…at the rehearsals, with Suchitra Pillai
…with Meeta Vashist

So rehearsals started full time in August, 2011, and I was a nervous wreck the first few days! But the more I saw of the cast, the more positive I became of my chances of matching up to these veterans on stage. And along the way, I made a few quality friends, too. Not bad for a boy with a thick Brummie accent!

Our first show was in Delhi, on the 16thof October, 2011. It was a huge auditorium, flippin’ massive! How did the show go? Erm, check out the vlogs to find out!

So far we’ve performed in Delhi, Pune, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai (more shows here later on in the year ‒ so do come and watch me!). And in March, we are taking our play to Dubai! Happy days, people, happy days!

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