The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, January 14, 2001
Scene Stealers

This doctor is an actor

After the lissome doctor, Aditi Gowtrikar, came in a cola advertisement with Hrithik, her popularity has zoomed. Aditi, however, is anything but snooty. Despite the fact that after being recently crowned Mrs World, she is riding a new high. Very friendly but introverted and shy, she says, "In college, boys did not know that I existed. I still travel by local trains. In fact, now I am noticed and people even have an argument that if she is Aditi Gowtrikar she would not be travelling by train."

Aditi GowtrikarAditi first came into the limelight as a Gladrags model. She had, on the spur of the moment, given her portfolio to Maureen Wadia. After that it was literally a cakewalk to the top slot. Big names in the ad world contacted her. "I got some of the best ads, which helped me grow as a person. Now I am much more poised and confident."

Modelling led to films, and her first Bollywood movie is going to be Soch, a murder-mystery opposite Aarbaaz Khan. For the mahurat shot that was filmed on her, she came with her husband. Quite slim and tall, she was wearing a western attire and came across as a friendly girl.

A doctor by profession, Aditi’s wish is to go abroad for higher studies in cosmetology. She also proves the stereotype wrong that a mother cannot be a model or a film star. Her career took off after becoming a mother (she has a son). She is lately featuring in quite a few music videos. She is still a practising doctor who works in a private clinic and has also opened a recording studio. With her light eyes, she is at times compared to Aishwarya Rai. But she laughingly dismisses the comparison.

For this Maharastrian girl, modelling and Bollywood just happened. Medicine still remains her first love and she feels that her future lies in this area only.


Avant garde

Mahesh Dattani, the avant garde playwright, has turned a script writer with the film Ek Alag Mausam. The film was screened at the International Film Festival in Mumbai. It stars Nandita Das and Rajit Kapoor. The story was inspired by Mahesh’s interaction with HIV positive patients. Before this, he was known as a successful playwright, whose play Dance Like A Man had won him accolades all over, including in the USA.

Mahesh DattaniDance Like A Man had left me spell-bound. The interplay of emotions was brought out with dexterity. The play deals with recent and ancient history of India in personal terms and probes three generations of conflict. It is juxtaposed against a background that evokes the highest achievements of ancient Sanskrit theatre and classical religious dance. I was quite keen to meet him. He lives in Bangalore and occasionally comes to Delhi, it was not easy to catch him. Many wasted calls (wrong numbers) later, I managed to catch him on his mobile, while he was driving. Without any airs, he came straight to the point and without any nakhras he answered the questions. He was equally prompt in sending me his photograph.

Humility personified, "If Dattani can, anybody can", is Mahesh’s pet line.Thirteen plays, including three of them commissioned by the BBC, an annual lecture tour to the US, a film script and a book in the offing for Penguin India, ensure that he has much to be proud of.

In 1998, Dattani received the Sahitya Akademi Award for Final Solutions, a gripping play on communalism. He has built an amphitheatre-cum-studio in Bangalore to stage his productions and for ensuring a livelihood. He is very hopeful of the future of theatre and maintains: "We have to nurture new talent in every language, I want more Dattanis, more playwrights, to bring about culture vibrancy".

It was after reading Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, in his teens that Mahesh developed an urge to write. "It unleashed in me an ability to set up my male and female characters against each other". He felt the impact most from Madhu Rye’s Kumarni Agash, and says: "It taught me to work within my own time and place and not operate out of a projected world of sophistication and grandeur".

Mahesh is a Gujarati by birth, even though he has a cosmopolitan outlook. Poetry, for him, also has great resonance. "In drama, one explores the distortions of everyday speech, the weight and flow of everyday movement, and endeavours to bring to them a sense of music," says Mahesh.

Mahesh is a socially conscious person. When Action Aid approached him to do a film on the AIDS issue, he did not hesitate. He interacted with them at Freedom Foundation (we have already carried a story on their good work in the column.). The experience of meeting children of HIV positive individuals overwhelmed him. He saw the anger and the feeling of betrayal of housewives who had contracted it from their husbands. The title of the movie came from interacting with those children.. "I thought of seasonal flowers which have a short life span but are beautiful", says Mahesh.

He also likes to interact with people and discuss issues. "Themes that are outside my immediate realm of experience, I research extensively. I can’t just write without knowing facts, and I think good writing is all about shifting perspectives of life".

Mahesh has got so much recognition by only staging his plays in metros. To the question why his plays were not staged north of Delhi he said: "You call us. No one has, until now, shown any interest from that side". While Bombay, Calcutta, Bangalore even Delhi has now built a theatre-going audience which is ready to pay. It is a pity we have not been able to achieve this feat. Incidentally, the people of Chandigarh had got an opportunity to see Mahesh’s Dance Like A Man a few years back, when Lilette Dubey had brought it here. For all those who saw it, it was an unforgettable experience.

— Belu Maheshwari

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