‘Stage is home, where I was born’
Actor Arunoday Singh talks about his musical on stage — Sound of Music, his connection with theatre and more
Not many know that Arunoday Singh started his acting career with stage. Before joining films, the good looking actor was a part of theatre outside India. “I was lucky that a few theatre companies wanted to cast me in roles that I wanted to play. And I never left the stage. I do as much as I can in all genres,” he says.
The actor is currently a part of the musical — Sound of Music, which has returned to stage after eight years. Produced by Raëll Padamsee’s ACE Productions and directed by Advait Hazarat, it stars an entirely new cast of over 200 children and Meher Mistry along with Arunoday.
The actor is playing the role of Captain von Trapp in the stage production of Sound of Music, one of the most loved classics of all time. Arunoday says that Sound of Music is the first film he remembers his mother showing him. “It’s my first strongest memory of a movie, so for me, it’s like coming home and an honour to perform. It is undeniably a classic and it never gets old,” he says, adding, “The story does not need to be changed ever because it’s human and universal.”
Ask him how he approached the role and he says, “I have approached it as earnestly as I approach everything else. Having said that, you have to work with the director, because they have an idea about how they want the character to pan out. Their and your idea about the character should meet somewhere in the middle. I didn’t have to work on the accent (having lived abroad) or the language because it’s classical English language.”
And how much of his acting experience did he bring to the table? It depends on the character, he says. “Some characters are easy and some not. I am playing Captain Von Trapp but basically I am playing my grandfather (mother’s father) who was also in the navy, like Trapp. My grandpa was a wonderful but crusty old man and he is my closest inspiration while playing this character.”
Arunoday, who has acted in stage productions like Rage Production’s The Glass Menagerie and has also played one of the central characters in Imaad Shah’s The Threepenny Opera, says that compared to regular plays, musicals are lot more intensive. “There are lot many rehearsals involved. You have to keep practising and be a little more involved. It has music and dancing, and you need to sound OK while doing it.”
Arunoday’s says that theatre gave him his first breakthrough as a human being. “I thought I had limitations. I was very shy and quiet. I did not function well with large groups of people. Then my English teacher put me on stage and said, ‘If you can do it on stage, nothing like it’. I slowly overcame my shyness and started liking being in front of people. That was the first major change I went through and it happened because of stage. So that’s where it all began. Stage is home, where I was born,” he says, and adds, “It’s given me a lot of joy and happiness — there is nothing more exciting than performing in front of live audience.”
The actor who maintains a balance between film and stage assignments, says that shooting a movie is for other people. “The audiences watch it and they watch it much after you have done your part. When you are on the set, there’s no one around you — it’s a safe location. You can do multiple takes. But when you are on stage, you are present in front of the people you are performing for. I have never felt more grounded than I have felt while performing on stage. It energises you. I love that feeling,” he says.
Though musicals are still picking up in India, it’s a popular genre elsewhere. That, says Arunoday is because music lives in our soul. “Music is so nostalgic, full of memories and emotions that watching a musical is like watching a Disney movie. You feel like a king again. The feeling of magic and romance is grand. It makes you feel larger than life,” he says before signing off.
ST Reader Service
Catch Sound of Music on April 20, 21 and 22 at Royal Opera House, Mama Parmanand Marg, Mumbai. The team comes back on July 20, 21 and 22 at NCPA, Nariman Point, Mumbai