The world is a stage for Indians

The world is a stage for Indians
Sunil Jasuja

Dubai now offer plays in a variety of Indian languages, including Hindi and Malayalam

By Natalia Ahmed

Published: Thu 15 Aug 2019, 3:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Aug 2019, 5:12 PM

The UAE has a long and rich tradition with theatre, almost as old as the nation itself. The Dubai Folklore Society, dedicated to traditional dances, and the Dubai Folklore Society Theatre, were both established in 1977.
The troupe was dedicated to performing Emirati drama to promote regional art and local artists. However, as Dubai has grown as a global, international city, a number of theatre groups from other nationalities and ethnicities have also grown, showcasing plays from various cultures in Dubai.
There are a variety of theatre festivals in the city as well, encouraging regional troupes to take part and showcase their productions. One popular festival is 'Short + Sweet', a festival designed for 10-minute plays, making theatre shorter and more accessible to the audience.
Sunil Jasuja, an architect by day, currently works with the 'Theatrewallas', a Hindi-based drama group in Dubai. He first discovered his passion for acting and theatre in university in Delhi. Starting out as an actor, Jasuja continued to act in Dubai as well.
"I saw one posting for a play audition and I just grabbed onto it", he said. When asked about the drama spaces in Dubai, he was happy about their inclusivity and openness towards new members. "It was an open atmosphere, and everyone was welcome".
Jasuja is also a lauded actor and director, having won awards in this year's 'Short + Sweet' festival. One of his plays, Dedh Inch Upar (1.5 inches above), a Hindi-medium play, went to the finals to win Best non-English play in the festival. He is also grateful for the judges awarding a Hindi play, thereby opening up spaces for Indian language plays. However, he learned that sometimes theatre must take a backseat. "In a situation like mine, we don't do theatre 365 days a year. I try doing to a couple of months of theatre, taking a break and devoting time to family, and then getting back to theatre. That's how it goes".
When it comes to pursuing a role in a play, it is important to make sure you put enough time and effort into it. "There's no shortcut', Jasuja says. "It takes weeks of rehearsals to master the craft and reach somewhere".
Dr Arif Kandoth, a dentist who works with Aster, is also an avid theatre buff, enthusiastic about acting in and directing plays in English and Malayalam. He first discovered his love for theatre in school, back in Kerala. Moving to Dubai in 2008, he then founded Theatre Dubai International.
When asked about how he juggles work, family, and theatre, Dr Arif is grateful that his family is as passionate about theatre as he is.
"My wife is a singer, a writer, an artist. My daughter is a dancer, and an actress. We are all into it," he says. Dr Arif is able to maintain his passion with the support of his family. Drama competitions are also held by AKMG (All Kerala Medical Group), a group of Keralite doctors. Here, he is able to stage plays in Malayalam, direct plays, and strengthen ties with other doctors and their families through theatre.
The challenge, however, lies in direction. Actors have to focus on one particular character, whereas directors must pay the same attention to all characters, while still managing the entire team. He prefers performing in Dubai because it is still possible to make waves and be heard.

Dr Arif Kandoth
Dr Arif Kandoth

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