Report on Shemaroo

?My love for theatre developed when I met Nandita Das? - Subodh Maskara


Taking the craft of theatre and stage play to another level, CinePlay founder Subodh Maskara gave up his full time corporate life to focus on his creative passions along with his wife, Nandita Das, who is also an award winning actress in the country.

Maskara is an actor, entrepreneur and also holds a MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, USA. From production of television sets to recycling of plastic bottles, Maskara has been involved in various enterprising schemes. In conversation with Ritwika Gupta, Maskara reveals his passion for theatre and talks about his latest venture, CinePlay.


Tell us about your journey as a professional in the industry.

I was in the corporate industry, wherein I ran a business of recycling plastic bottles. My love for theatre developed when I met Nandita. Initially, theatre started off as a hobby. It was lovely performing for a live audience. However, it was when we started getting invitations to perform in different cities that I realized that there was a time constraint and many geographical restrictions to live theatre. Logistically, it wasn?t very easy to put together a performance in a different city or country effortlessly. There are many issues that go into making a live production. So, I thought of an idea. I wanted to take these stories from theatre onto a digital platform and create a new genre, which comprised theatre and cinema.

When did you first realise your love for theatre?

I was seven or eight years old when I used to go watch my uncle perform stage plays. My uncle was a graduate from National School of Drama, so while I was exposed to theatre at a young age, I did not pursue it. To be honest, I am fond of anything with a strong cultural association. I feel any form of art is like an internal growth and that is why I look up to all artistes. Every artiste has a story to tell. I have done only one play, so far. It?s called Between the Lines starring my wife, Nandita and myself.

What is a CinePlay?

A CinePlay extends the influence and reach of theatre by creating a self-sustaining financial model. It is a new genre altogether, a genre that allows stories from theatre to break the constraints of economics, geography, language and accessibility. We archive iconic plays, allowing future generations to experience unforgettable stories and performances.

Who is your inspiration?

Frankly every actor, producer and director in theatre has inspired me. CinePlay is like a tribute to everyone in theatre, production and backstage. This month, we are celebrating our first anniversary and I am glad it?s been a success so far.

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I am an entrepreneur. So, I am excited by new ideas ? the ability to give shape to a concept and to create something radical and to find new ways to solve new challenges. That is what I enjoy the most.

Is it difficult to balance your role as an entrepreneur and a family person?

Not at all! I have had great support from my family. Yes initially, there was a little bit of resistance from my wife because the idea was out of the norm. She was just watching out for me. However, there?s been immense support over time and I am really happy about that. I make sure I wrap up my work on time so I get enough time to exercise, relax and spend with my family.

Theatre or Cinema: What?s your pick?

I am fond of every form of art. In theatre, you have an audience that can range from 100-500. The actor?s projection is much more; the lighting is for stage and for the audience. Theatre is one dimension. I want to archive live theatre. For eg., the play Tumhari Amrita, whose original star cast was Shabana Azmi and Farooq Sheikh is a world class drama but not everyone has seen it. And now because it?s stopped playing in theatres, the new generation will not be able to ever see the original performances either. So my attempt is to film these plays and archive them. We get the talented theatre actors to act for camera and with the usage of angles, light, background score, subtitles and techniques, which are not available in live theatre, we are able to bring these performances to people who are not privileged enough to watch these plays live for various reasons. I want to bring these CinePlays to different cities and countries. A month goes into pre-production and it takes us almost a week to shoot an entire play, followed by another month of post-production.

How important are awards to you?

I don?t quite believe in awards and frankly, it does not make a difference to me. I feel those who seek awards and make it their sole aim, are rather insecure. Sometimes a lot of people who have a lot of awards are actually depressed. To me, awards and appreciation are all an individual interpretation and one should not treat it as a final judgment. Life goes on.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

On a professional level, I wish to take CinePlay onto a global platform and not just limited to India. I want to create a healthy exchange of CinePlays worldwide ? be it Chinese, Taiwanese or French plays. As of now, we have 50 shows and we have a tie-up with Inox Cinemas to showcase them. We will have a national launch of CinePlay in June. We have partnered with Jet Airways for in-flight entertainment, so there we are trying many non-traditional ways of reaching out to people. But here I must tell you that CinePlay is neither competing with cinema or theatre. It?s alternate content, which caters to both cinema and theatre lovers in India. As I mentioned, I want people to become aware of this genre.

If at this stage, you had to describe your life in one word, what would it be?

Contented. I take one moment at a time and very happy to have a good equilibrium between work and family. I feel I am too privileged that I am able to make a difference. 

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