@shaktibhagchandani: Why did you decide

@shaktibhagchandani: Why did you decide to get into this industry? As a child, I wanted to be a writer. My mom gave me a love of words — she was a poet though she never pursued it. We’d trade books, primarily crime novels, back and forth, and discuss them at length. She gave me The God of Small Things by Arundathi Roy (which is still my favorite book) and I tried to write stories in Roy’s style. My stories weren’t very good! But my love of words took me to London where I studied English Literature at King’s College London.
When I arrived in London, I was completely lost. I started searching for a tribe and unexpectedly found it in my university’s theatre society. I had never even seen a play. Theatre was nonexistent in the UAE and all I had seen were crude, garish high school musicals. One of the first plays I saw was Red written by John Logan, and it changed my life. Instantly, I decided that I wanted to be a theatre-maker. I threw myself into the student theatre world and within a year I was directing plays and interning with wonderful theatre directors.
After graduating, I returned to the UAE, hoping to find the same support at home, but the dearth of an art world or theatre scene startled me. A traveling short play festival had come to Dubai, and I tried to get involved. But the plays chosen were safe, orthodox and restrictive. I realized that even though I loved theatre, it simply didn’t have the same authority that film had in the UAE. I wanted to tell stories that pierced the echo chamber, stories that were dissenting, dangerous and open-minded, but theatre just wasn’t the appropriate medium for this. The UAE has strict censorship and blasphemy laws. Plays need physical, tangible, private or public spaces. This means they can be shut down, the lights can be turned off, the audience can be kicked out, the venue can be locked up. But in the UAE, because of the internet, films have always found a way to subvert the public’s consciousness.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.