Jim Sarbh on his 3 new roles


Jim Sarbh on his 3 new roles

The theatre actor-director has an exciting line-up - starting with Kalki Koechlin’s play on death

By Vatsala Chhibber  June 25th, 2015

Prepare to see a lot more of Jim Sarbh this year. The theatre actor-director will play young, cocksure Born in Kalki Koechlin’s debut stage production, The Living Room. The playful exploration of death – which also stars Neil Bhoopalam, Tariq Vasudeva and Sheeba Chaddha – opens in Bengaluru next month. It’s only one of the many off-centre projects Sarbh is bending into into shape while dividing his time between murderous maids and dramatic art.

As an actor, he’s being led by Kalki Koechlin
The Living Room, written and directed by Koechlin, is a genre-bending mix of serious tragedy and wacky comedy. I play this enthusiastic fellow named Born; he’s young and consequently full of expertise on everything. Kalki is figuring out her voice as a director, and that alone was enough for me to want to do this project. She is like a kind, indulgent parent who knows when to laugh encouragingly at improvisations, and when to be firm about what she wants. She obviously loves theatre, you can see it when she’s trying to handle four actors who are taking the play away from her vision, and when she’s delighted at how it it’s turning out. We rehearsed at a farmhouse near Nashik, and one day we drove over to a river and went swimming, potential chemicals be damned.”

As a director, he’s in search of a good mistress
“I am currently translating The Maids, a groovy play by [French dramatist] Jean Genet to Hindi. The play opens later this year and is about two maids who take turns dressing up as The Madame [their mistress] and act out an elaborate performance that should result in The Madame’s murder. It is also appropriately genre-bending, floating between political satire, comedy and tragedy. Although that’s all fancy-pants talk for great dialogue. I love good, stylish, character-driven dialogue. Priyanka Bose will be playing one of the maids. The rest of the cast is not finalised, so if you’re interested, reader, send a shout out. Parts left: one maid, one madame. Although I’m going to try and convince Kalki to play The Madame.”

As an artist, he’s weaving together mediums
“Lots of films are adopting long takes, which is great for theatre actors. I just worked on a short film called Sarala with writer-director Dar Gai that had a 42-minute single take. We had to rehearse it theatre-style. Daria and I plan on doing an immersive, interactive theatre piece with stilts and human-animal fights. We are looking to work with modern Indian artists to create rooms that will be artworks in themselves, and space for the characters, all linked by a broader concept. It will open this year.” 

The Living Room opens at Rangashankara in Bengaluru on July 24

Photograph: Bikramjit Bose 

You may also want to read: Kalki Koechlin: The power of one