Atul Satya Koushik surrounds himself with larger-than-life characters, grand sets, high-adrenaline music and epic storylines. After the success of his productions, Chakravyuh, featuring Nitish Bhardwaj, and Raavan ki Ramayan, with Puneet Issar, Koushik is, for the first time, dealing with two ordinary people who used to be in love. The play, Ballygunge 1990, will open in Delhi mid-December and Mumbai a month later, before touring the rest of India. Excerpts from an interview with Koushik:
Are you breaking the stereotype with a thriller?
This is the first time I am attempting a suspense thriller, where, one after another, there are twists as secrets tumble out. I always try to challenge myself with new concepts and ideas, so after making a couple of grand historical and mythological productions, I tried my hand at romantic comedies with Dads Girlfriend. We see a lot of movies coming up on suspense thrillers but I havent seen a lot of theatre in this genre, except, perhaps in Marathi. Thats why I have wanted, for a long time, to make a thriller for the stage.
What is the plot of the play?
The story is based on revenge arising out of an unsuccessful love. There was a love affair which was going pretty well and then something happens. One of the partners turns to revenge because the relationship they wanted could not happen. The play stars Nishtha Paliwal Tomar and Anup Soni. There is a servant, who comes for two minutes but, for the rest, it is only two characters on stage.
Why did you choose Ballygunge in Kolkata as a setting?
We do a lot of shows in Kolkata and travel there every two-three months. We normally stay in Ballygunge, which is an old locality of Kolkata. The inner streets and old-style houses inspired me. The play is set in the 1990s and we have recreated the period feel of Kolkata in the sets and attire. The house, where the action takes place, belongs to a rich woman, so it will have the decor of Kolkatas elite homes.
Why do your plays always feature popular actors from film and television?
I run a commercial theatre company, and have been very open about this. Popular names pull audiences to the ticket counters. We have to sell shows but we also keep in mind that an actor must have the calibre to pull off the role. Nitish Bhardwaj and Puneet Issar have performed the roles in an iconic manner. Anup Soni, from Crime Patrol, is an NSD graduate and an actor of great merit. We look for a package where we get a popular face as well as a very good actor. Ballygunge 1990 opens at Shri Ram Centre on December 15