‘People have really become nihilistic’

Amrita Prasad
Friday, 25 May 2018

We speak with actor Girish Pardesi, whose Hindi adaptation of the classic play Just Assassins will be staged in the city

City-based theatre artist and actor Girish Pardesi first read French writer Albert Camus’s classic work The Just Assassins in 2015. It haunted him till he finally decided to direct it. The Hindi adaptation of this play will be staged on May 29 at Sudarshan Rangmanch. The National School of Drama alumnus tells us more about Camus and the play. 

What prompted you to choose the play and what changes did you make in the script while adapting it in Hindi?
I have always admired Albert Camus’s work; be it his play Caligula or novels like The Plague, The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus. I read this play in 2015 and I found it intriguing and it continued to haunt me since then. I planned to work on Just Assassins and now that everything has fallen in place, here I’m, designing this play. I liked the complexities of human nature and conflicts in Camus’s ideology which is very much visible in this play.

While directing it, we adapted it for Indian context. There are five acts in the original script. However, we edited it to make it shorter. The duration of the play is for 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was extremely difficult to edit the script as Camus’s work is so complete and enriched in every aspect. 
Also not anyone that I know of, has done his work in Pune theatre. 

Albert Camus is known for his theory about Existentialism, Nihilism and Absurdity. How did you approach these theories? How relevant are they in real life?
These are indeed an inseparable part of human life. In fact, they take you on a much deeper journey inwards. If one has to explain these concepts with Camus’ perspective, then it can be explained this way. All of us are looking for meaning and purpose of our life and when we think we have found it, it’s in vain. The meaning changes at every point of time, as one progresses in life. That’s the existential urge. 

When we feel that we have no purpose in life, it’s called nihilism. Absurdity is a part of our everyday life, even the smallest of things are so absurd. We do something with a particular thought, reason and purpose in mind, but we lose its relevance the next moment. 

Camus has brought out this reality strongly in this play. I feel that in modern times, because of the chaos and predominance of technology, people have really become nihilistic. 

This play was written in 1949, but I think it is relevant even now. As long as the earth is inhabited by human life, this play will be relevant, because existentialism is about existence.

How would you define this shift from acting to direction?
This is my first work as a director and I feel that it is just an extension of my journey as an artist. Not that I have any plans of quitting acting ever! 

I feel this is an actors’ play, and being one myself, I could understand the challenges that my cast were facing. It was nice working with Pune actors. 

What is your take on the experiments going on in the world of theatre in Pune?
Theatre is theatre. There’s no such demarcating line between experimental and commercial theatre. However, a lot depends upon the economics and canvas of the play. I believe that Pune’s audience is extremely open and receptive. 

I’m in love with Pune’s theatre scene because so many people are involved in it. Many plays, which have travelled all over, are coming here and vice versa. The city has always had a lot of creative energy in all art forms and theatre is no exception. I also see that even Hindi theatre is blossoming in Pune.

Just Assassins will be staged on May 29, at Sudarshan Rangmanch, Shaniwar Peth, at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the venue one hour before the show

Adhishree Vadodkar, Roshan Singh, Prashant Singh, Prajakta Pandhare, Tejas Indapurkar, Swapnil Pandit, Vikrant Gadge and Prasoon Raj are acting in Just Assassins.

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