Prakash Belawadi: In theatre there are no retakes

By Manju Mittal

Prakash Belawadi in the play ‘Counting And Cracking’ being staged as part of the Sydney Fest

Prakash Belawadi, who hails from Bangalore and was born into a family of theatre artistes, has been entertaining audiences through films, television and theatre. Belawadi is a respected actor, writer, director and teacher for the stage, television and cinema; as well as a Journalist and an occasional activist. He is appearing in theatre drama ”˜Counting and Cracking’ for Belvoir in 2019. Prakash has featured in many Indian films such as Madras Cafe, Talwar, Airlift and recent film ”˜Accidental Prime Minister’ and in a Malaylam film ”˜Take Off’. Prakash is also the co-founder of the centre of Film and Drama, which is a theatre group and academy for training in acting and filmmaking, Prakash has been a speaker, trainer and delegate at Harvard University, San Francisco State University, and in London, Seoul, Gothenburg, Istanbul and Berlin.

”˜Counting and Cracking’ is an epic ensemble theatre unique drama which follows one Sri Lankan-Australian family over four generations, from Colombo to Pendle Hill, Sydney. Starring in the theatrical is the award winning the multitalented Indian actor Prakash Belawadi is in Australia.

 In a candid and confident telephonic conversation while he is quite busy rehearsing and staging the show in Australia. Prakash shared his passion for theatre, his views about his personal journey as we touched on many other aspects of his busy life; following is the interview he gave to The Indian Down Under.

The Indian Community extends a very warm welcome to you in Australia. Is this your first trip to Australia and how do you feel being part of Belvoir theatre?

Thank you, I am extremely happy as this is my very first trip to Australia. I feel privileged and truly honoured to be part of this amazing production. I think this production is a big deal, I also think great gumption and generosity for Belvoir to pick up such a challenge-a reckoning of the troubled history of a once-colonised nation, a narrative of migrants, performed by actors from places and origins as diverse as Palestine, Fiji and of course, South Asia. It warms my heart that a community of sponsors, organisers and theatre loving people is willing to come together to participate in this collaboration, which is at once an attempt to understand and reconcile.

What inspired you to do this play?

 Well, early in 2018, when the playwright Shakthidharan and director Eamon Flack first came to my city Bangaluru, India for a quick audition, I was already in love with the script. Several months later, when they came to the confirm the audition, my plans had changed; my daughter was to get married in January 2019 and I couldn’t be a part of this production. I felt bad, my wife and daughter felt worse, I had read parts of the script to them and they saw how moved I was by it. We are a family immersed in amateur theatre for three generations.

 My family said I had to be in ”˜Counting and Cracking’. I told them what entailed: we would need to move the wedding date and I would have to give up nice pay roles in some movies and web series at the time of our fat Indian wedding. But my crazy wife and children managed to arrange a change of wedding date and let me travel to Australia.

Could you please tell us about ”˜Counting and Cracking’ and your character in the play?

 Counting and Cracking is about Sri Lankan situation and about democracy. For me it is about India and any other democracy of the world. The tragedy that Sri Lanka went through and it is also about the politics anywhere else in the world, it is a story based on true events in Sri Lanka.  My character is a Sri Lankan Tamil political figure, a mathematicians who makes his way up from a village agriculture family to the heights of the political career but eventually gets conflicted with the way democracy begins to work so that’s the role I play. I must say this is the most significant work I have done in my entire theatre career.

How is the experience working with the large cast of Counting and Cracking and what were some of the challenges you faced in this play.

 I come from a big theatre experience in India and I have done plays with big cast in the past.  Yes, Counting and Cracking is a long and large cast play, there are 16 actors and they all play various characters so I would say it’s a very populated play. Overall it is a great experience working with the entire cast and crew and I feel very special to be a part of this team. The bigger challenge was to get the truth of the story, it’s not the drama with one conflict that needs to be resolved; it conflicts in many dimensions.

Belonging to a family of artists, did acting come naturally to you?

 Acting was something I always wanted to do. It was natural to me. Growing up in a house full of actors it’s just the world I knew I was comfortable in.

How did you gravitate towards theatre? And could you say a few words to your fans and theatre lovers living in Australia?

I come from theatre family and I always loved acting on stage more than in front of camera. I feel in theatre you are on your own, there are no retakes and you are not allowed to get it wrong, I feel theatre educates people, it never give solution it makes one think. The greatness of theatre is role play; it’s about meaningful and positive interaction between performers and audience. I would encourage everyone to come and watch Counting and Cracking. And also I would like to thank all my fans who have watched my theatre, films and TV shows that I have been in.

Prakash is one actor whose tireless discipline, passion, and commitment towards theatre art make him an exemplary icon and inspiration for many others to follow. He is one of the most amazing actors both on stage and films. We sincerely wish Prakash best of luck in all his future endeavours and look forward to watch him perform live in Counting and Cracking.

Short URL: