Veteran stage and film actor Lillete Dubey says her work in theatre, spanning over four decades, has been far more rewarding than the collective experience of her credits on TV, in cinema and the digital space.
The 67-year-old actor, who started her film career in the late ‘90s, garnered acclaim for her performances in films like ‘Zubeida’, Mira Nair’s ‘Monsoon Wedding’, ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’, and British comedy-drama ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ and its sequel.
In the theatre community, Dubey is known for plays like ‘Dance Like A Man’, ‘Adhe Adhure’ and ‘Gauhar’, which she directed under her banner, The Primetime Theatre Company.
While her work on screen has been appreciated, the actor said, she doesn’t feel the medium has given her opportunities to play wide-ranging characters.
“I don’t want to sound immodest, but I don’t think cinema, TV or web has even challenged me or made me do a gamut of work that theatre has. I get embarrassed when people have nice things to say about the work I’ve done for the screen,” she said.
“I really feel I’ve given very little of myself as an actor to the screen. It’s my theatre work where I’ve explored far more, played much more complex characters. I’ve used very little of the talent I have for cinema,” she added.
While it would seem natural for a seasoned artiste to get too confident with their craft, Dubey said it is a trap to become lazy.
According to the actor, it is important to evolve and look out for opportunities that don’t let “complacency” kick in.
“If I don’t get nervous before I get on stage or give a shot, I get seriously worried. The day I stop feeling a slight apprehension, anticipation, excitement, nervousness, I should think of retirement.
“There’s no place for complacency in the industry. You’ve to feel you’re challenging yourself in some way, again, otherwise it’s so boring.”
Dubey stars in ‘Unpaused’, an Amazon Prime Video anthology.
The project features five short films revolving around the themes of hope, second chances and new beginnings.
She stars in the short ‘Rat - A - Tat’, helmed by actor-turned-director Tannishtha Chatterjee. The segment also features ‘Sairat’ star Rinku Rajguru.
In the short, Dubey said she plays a reserved woman, “who seemed content to live within the narrow world of hers”, until a tiny incident during the coronavirus-induced lockdown sparks a change in her life.
Through the film, the actor said, she found an opportunity to play a character who had a wholesome graph.
“Even in a 20 minute-long film, the character had somewhere to go. You can do a big part in a big, commercial film but even there the character just remains there; they don’t drive the story. So this was beautiful.
“I liked the story for its sheer simplicity, where small, everyday things were contributing to a big inward change in a person, which is what happened during the lockdown. We were left with our own thoughts, time to yourselves and in some way, we all changed,” she added.
Dubey said the short was also a way to archive what the world went through during the lockdown as part of “our collective history”.
“Even though we have all been engulfed by so much darkness in this period, there was always light, hope, and things which we could make happen for ourselves. I liked how the short film tapped into this. It was extremely inspiring,” she added.