‘This is a creative world, and I like being in it, yaar!’

In town to stage his novella ‘Dopehri’, Pankaj Kapur has a freewheeling chat with Ajachi Chakrabarti about what keeps him ticking.

Could you begin by talking about how Dopehri came into being? Was this your first attempt at writing fiction?

No. I had written something before this as well. It’s a funny incident, frankly. If you want, you can write it; if you want, you can edit it. But I will tell you the truth.

Way back—I’m talking of ’95, ’96—we were trying to produce some television work, and make some films. There was this new concept of afternoon television, which was coming up. And I told my wife [Supriya Pathak], who’s a writer herself, and I told my brother [Anooj Kapur], who’s a writer himself and who’s heading SAB right now, I told both of them to try and think of some subject for the afternoon, because I was busy acting. And I thought, let them come up with something, because I had written something for a film before that, one or two subjects before that. And both of them after a month told me they had not done anything. (Laughs)

And I felt that’s very strange, and I had given them a brief, because I thought that the idea of an old woman in a city, especially the loneliness in the afternoons, would be something which will be very interesting to address. And then I said okay, I’ll sit down, and I just closed the door of my study and I went inside, sat on my writing table, and the moment I picked up my pen, the story went to Lucknow. It was not intended to, to be honest, but the first word that I wrote was “Amma Bi”. I didn’t know whether the woman was a Muslim or a Hindu; I had no concept of that. But intuitively, I knew I wanted to write about an old woman’s loneliness, and a sense of recognition that she must have about herself, so that there is a journey.

Frankly, it just flowed. I finished the novella in four days. I mean, it’s about 80 pages. I’m not trying to say that I did a great thing. It just happened. And I think, seeing my own grandmother, seeing my mother, seeing a whole lot of other people I might have come across in life, might have helped me to write about this particular character, and the characters around her. And that is how Dopehri happened, frankly.

I wanted to make a film on it. A friend of mine came over, who was from Calcutta, called Akshay Upadhyay. He died, unfortunately, many years back; he used to write for Sandip Ray and Satyajit Ray, et cetera, and he was a famous journalist and poet. He was a very, very dear friend of mine. He came to Bombay and asked me, “What have you been doing?” And I told him that I’d written a novella. He said, “Okay, narrate it.” So we sat at night, and he read out his poetry, and I read out my novella, and he said, “I want a copy of this in the morning.” He sent this to Bhopal, where there’s a literary magazine called Sakshatkar, and it was printed. I had no clue about it, and I told him, “Yaar, I’ve written it for a film, I’ve not written it as a piece of literature or something.” When you listen to it, you’ll realise it’s written very visually as well; when you hear it you’ll be able to see the things that I am talking about.

After that, the then-National School of Drama director, Mr Ram Gopal Bajaj, who was my senior, came home one day and he said, “What have you done?” So I told him I’ve written this novella, and he said, “Read out a chapter to me.” I read out a chapter to him, and then he said, “Read out the whole thing.” I read out the whole thing, and he said, “You have to perform this in the School of Drama.” I said, “I’ve not written it from that point of view. He said, “I don’t care.” I said, “Look I’ll be reading it out.” He said, “That’s what I want you to do.”

So then I picked up a bit of music, thought of a bit of set, thought of a bit of lighting, so that if I’m performing at National School of Drama, it should be at least a bit presentable. And that is how the first show of Dopehri at National School of Drama happened. A friend of mine saw it, and he got it sponsored in Chandigarh. At that time I thought that probably the School of Drama, because these people have a literature background, they have a drama background, and they also have a soft corner for me, being their senior, there is an acceptability on a different level. But when I did it at Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh, it was a completely new audience, completely different kind of people, but it was received extremely well.

And then there was a silence of about 20 years. Then I picked it up in Hyderabad, first show, and I was very sceptical—I wanted to test waters as to what’s going to happen. And we got a thunderous response. So that is how I started this process of reading out Dopehri to my audience.


So this is basically a film treatment that became a novella that became a theatre production.

You see, I’ll tell you, I’ve written a couple of other films also. I’ve written them in a novella form, the reason for that being that when we write a screenplay for a film, it’s a very dry process. You know, a whole lot of stuff is either in the head of the writer or in the head of the director. But when you write it in a novella form, the advantage is that you are able to communicate to the listener immediately. You can transport them into that world, and you can also talk about what is happening inside the head of the character, which also helps the actor to perform, it also helps the listener to understand.


You’ve mentioned that this is a homecoming of sorts; you’re returning to your roots in theatre. This is your first theatre production in some 13 years, if I’m not wrong—

Twenty years.


Oh, okay, ever since the original Dopehri production.

Yeah, the last time I probably did this was in maybe 1998, or 2000, or something around that time.


So why did you take this hiatus from theatre, and what are your future plans for Theatron?

Well, to be honest, this is just the beginning, because one of the reasons I started with Dopehri was that it is written by me; I don’t have to take any permission from anybody. That’s one. The other is that I’m the only actor, so I don’t have to gather a group of people to start doing a play. The third is I wanted to test my writing with my audience. I have always felt that there is a great dearth of original play writing in our country, so I wanted some kind of content that is different from regular, which one can bring forth to the audiences.

These were three reasons why we picked up Dopehri, and slowly it’ll gather momentum. We will be obviously be addressing a whole lot of different kinds of plays—some I might attempt to write, some which are already written that I feel that maybe we can try to do in a manner that is probably a little different from what is being done.


The play is about loneliness, the loneliness of an old woman. There are a lot of people who call this a time of profound loneliness, that with technology, people are shutting themselves off from the world, withdrawing into their own cocoons. Do you think the novella has become wider; do you think that it will touch a chord that people won’t remember their mothers and grandmothers, that they might think about themselves?

I think you are bringing a very fresh idea in front of me, which I didn’t think about. But if it does, I suppose it’ll give them a reason to reflect and ponder over what this novella is talking about, and how a tiny little change in life can bring about a meaning to your existence.


Your film career hasn’t been the most prolific. I mean, someone like Naseeruddin Shah has probably done eight to maybe ten times as many films as you have. You’ve said that you’re choosy about the films that you pick. What do you take into account when you choose a film?

The content of the film, what it is that I’m expected to do, and what is the approach of the director—these are three things that are important for me. One thing that I want to bring to your notice, yaar, what happened is when I came into films, the only kind of roles that were going to be offered to me—because of whatever reasons, though I was 27, 28 when I started my career as an actor in films—were in the mainstream either a heroine’s brother, or hero’s friend—


Or villain.

Or villain. Villain, also, of a—


Villain ka chela.

Villain ka chela types, you know? And I had already done some different kind of work on stage, because I joined School of Drama when I was 19, so in about eight, nine years of my theatre career, I had already addressed a few top-class playwrights, some top-class directors with whom I happened to work, et cetera, and was exposed to a lot of theatre and world-class cinema and stuff like that. So for me, to take up those roles was not understanding as to why am I being an actor now; if I want to do this, why do I want to do this?

Fortunately for me, television emerged as a medium at that time. And, though a lot of people look upon it differently, I look upon it as good fortune for me as an actor, because it provided me with a variety of roles over a period of almost 10–12 years, which was probably the best period of television in our country. I’m not naming Karamchand; Karamchand just made me popular, frankly, but it was a different kind of character. There was Kab Tak Pukaroon; there was Lifeline; there was Zabaan Sambhalke; there was Neem Ka Pedh; there was Office-Office; there was Phatichar; there was Philips Top Ten. I think the variety was so amazing, and each character, there was something else to do. So what I was not getting to do in cinema, I was able to do in television, because that gave me satisfaction as an actor, and it exposed my audiences to my ability as an actor, which was very fortunate because then when they saw me in films doing different kinds of characters, they sort of related immediately to this, that here is a kind of actor who is not doing one kind of character for 30 years of his career, but is trying to present different kinds of people in front of us. For me as an actor, the most challenging part was to create those people, make them alive.

That was my journey, wherever I got it—first I got it in theatre, then I got it in television, and middle of television somewhere cinema started, where I started getting some mature roles. And I must say that I’m grateful to somebody like Aditya Bhattacharya [director of Raakh] to start with, and Tapanda [Sinha], who gave me Ek Doctor Ki Maut. Then there was a series of directors, like Mrinalda [Sen], who looked upon me, “Oh, here’s an actor we want to work with.” And I got an opportunity to work with some of the best directors of that time in cinema, but it was because of a lot of work in television that I was doing, that they got exposed to my ability as an actor, my ability to create variety and different people as an actor. Therefore, the number of films that I’ve done could be comparatively less.

And frankly, I have been very choosy. Maybe it’s an inability in me, because I cannot work without a script. Twenty years back, there were no scripts. They would just give you a sketch of a character, and they would expect you to come and perform; the scene would be given to you on set. From Day One, I’ve not been comfortable with that. And I’ve not been comfortable with working two shifts and three shifts; all my career I’ve done one thing at one time, one project at one time, which allows me to give that type of concentration, commitment, honesty to that given project, and give my best to it. That’s how I’ve led my career, and with God’s grace—He has been very kind to me—I might have done a lesser number of films, but I’ve tried to retain quality as much as possible.


By talking about television, you anticipated my next question. Of your various roles, which one would you say is your favourite TV role and why?

It’s very difficult to say that. As I always say, you can’t choose among your children. Which is why I say I’d rather be known—and I would like my audiences to understand that from my point of view—as the sum total of the ability that I have as an actor and would like to explore in the years to come, rather than a given performance for which I’ve become famous.


Does the nature of television…I know you did a variety of roles, but the roles themselves, did they ever get repetitive?

Oh, yes. Especially Office-Office.


Yeah, that was the example I was going to give you.

Yeah, yeah. With Office-Office, I was earning a huge amount of money. I had the top popularity in the country. But I got sick of it, and my producers were actually quite upset with me when I told them, “This is it, I am not doing it. You can take somebody else to do the same role, but I have done it for three and a half years. There is no way I am doing it.” I think the hunger of not doing anything else and doing only Office-Office in those three and a half years—in between that, the one character that I got was Maqbool, which I threw myself completely into to say that here’s an opportunity which I’ve got as an actor to do something with a character that is offered to me.


It was the diametric opposite to Musaddi Lal.

Yeah, exactly. That’s what I’m saying, that I was so hungry for doing something other than what is being done right now, so I frankly told a friend of mine, the producer-director Rajiv Mehra, “Let’s make a film on it. I’m ready for that. But I do not want to do television.” Also, television after a point tends to become very mediocre, because the scripts are written at the last moment, the channels have their guidelines, et cetera. In those days, there were much less, but still I would say that because things used to happen at the last moment, the kind of quality you’d have liked to retain as an actor in a given character that you’ve been playing slowly started getting compromised, and I said this is it. I just don’t want to go ahead with it.


At a recent event, you were talking about the roles women get in Bollywood, and you said, “When the mindset of the society will change, new stories will be written that way.” It reminded me a lot of what Ravish said during his famous telecast when he blacked out the screen. He was talking about debate TV and news TV, and he said ki hum kehte hain ki hum apko woh dikhate hain jo aap dekhna chahte hain, aur aap kehte hain ki aap woh dekhte hain jo hum dikhate hain. How will these mindsets change?

What happens is at the end of the day, you and I sitting over here might have feelings of a different nature and kind about what filmmaking is, or what kind of cinema should be presented to the audience. But at the heart of it, because as a form people have looked upon it as fantastic money-making stuff. Their approach is going to be business, yaar. You get my point?

So let’s not fool ourselves about anything. We might say what we want to do, we might have an individual reaction to whatever we want to do, but it’s an industry. The industry says, “Where am I going to make money from, yaar? Because I’m not only making money for myself, I am also making money for those 120 to 240 people who work on a film.” Their logics are of a different nature and kind, and they’re not wrong completely.

My saying is, in the world all kinds of things have existed always. Every human being has a different outlook towards life and everything. There’s a generalised thing that we accept in life—good, bad, ugly—which is also subjective. It’s not totally objective; we cannot be objective about it. What we need to see is what is the kind of balance that is being created? Are we able as a society to create a balance where, on one hand, I can provide something that is completely commerce, and I can also provide something that is completely aesthetic and artistic, and let my audience choose what they’d like to see.

There is an argument against this, which will be what commerce can publicise and market, an artistic thing may not be able to. Then, what is important is that we need to bring these two forms slightly closer to be able to communicate the artistry and take it to larger sections of the audience. Now we say, you want to see this therefore we make this. It’s not completely wrong, but we’ve not educated them. Let’s give them exposure.

Now, in a village, in case there is no school, we say the whole village is illiterate because they want to stay illiterate. Otherwise 10 miles away, there is a school; maybe two people might be able to go. Can you provide a school over here? Can you coax people and tell them what are the good points of education? Initially, there’ll be problems, but maybe 50 years from now, you will see that this is the most educated village we have in the country. In a similar fashion, all kinds of cinema should be made, and the attempt should be made to take it as much as possible to the audiences, and slowly and steadily—especially with today’s youngsters’ exposure to the Internet—a youngster sitting in a village, if he has a computer, and nowadays most people do have, he’s sitting over there and he can watch any kind of cinema being made in the world. So his exposure becomes different.

If you will publicise this, if you will talk about it, write about this, his awareness that something of this kind exists will increase. His tastes will change over a period of time. Three to four decades down the line, you will see not that mainstream cinema will cease to exist—that will never happen, because hardcore businessmen will always exist—but you will at least have a percentage of that cinema which appeals to the aesthetics and finer feelings of human beings also emerge as a form which reaches out to a larger section as compared to the section which is seeing it today. That’s the only way out, I feel, and it’s a process. It’s not an overnight thing.

In the ’70s, when I came to the School of Drama and later came to Bombay to act in films, films like the ones that Shyam Benegal or Govind Nihalani or Mrinalda—Mrinalda in Bengal was making more films, but these people who were making Hindi films were barely making a film in two years, or one film in one year.


…which were also not really getting massive releases.

They were not getting major releases, but look at the difference between those filmmakers and today. Look at somebody like Vishal Bhardwaj, the kind of releases that he can get, or even Shyam Benegal, the kind of films he is able to make, or so many new filmmakers who are trying to attempt something completely new, something different, and have understood how to try and come closer to bringing about that middle path I talked about. At the same time, there should also be a section that should do completely academic work, which should not be rejected. Some people say, “Oh, this is just for oneself.” You might think like that, but research is done in any field.

You must allow that to happen, so that a century down the line, it exists and new forms might evolve out of that. You and I might see it and say, “Shit man, we never thought about this. I might not make this, but something deriving from this, deriving from the other stuff I have made, I have a new form in mind which might become the most communicative forms in the years to come.” So don’t allow growth to stop; don’t stop experimentation either. Don’t reject it be saying “You are making this for yourself, what is this kind of cinema?” Allow all of it to exist. For instance, let us not sit down and say that this part of society is correct, and that part of society is wrong. Who are we to say that, yaar? Somebody else can say the same thing to us. Allow everybody to co-exist in a manner which is socially acceptable, and which also allows an individual thought to exist and prosper.


This is a very fraught question, and in a way it ties in with the last bit of what you said. Where do you stand on the JNU incident?

I think it’s a very political question, and I am a non-political man. But basics are basics, yaar. Basics are freedom of speech. Now, what are the connotations of that, I really do not know. I have not followed what is JNU all about, because I’ve not been passionately wanting to know the politics of the country. As long as I feel people are doing decent work and are being decent about matters, that’s about it. Yet, I completely, definitely believe in complete independence being given to an expression that somebody might want to come out with. Having said that, I also feel that we all need to be responsible towards ourselves and the society at the same time. That’s about it.


You’re not a political person; that’s a choice for you. But is it possible for someone like you, an actor who is constantly in the media eye, to be political?

It’s an individual choice. I like leading my life my way. Somebody else might say that the right way to lead their life is to be at the heart of politics. As an actor, you can make a lot of difference, so it’s a choice. If they want to do it, they’re most welcome to do it. I have nothing against them.


But nobody does it.

No, a lot of them are doing it. If you will notice, a lot of people from Bengal who are actors are standing for elections. There are a lot of people from the south who have been chief ministers of states, who were actors. There are people now in the Centre—every state now has somebody or the other who is a popular face who has at least one stride, if not anything else, in politics.


They are elected to office because they are popular faces. I’m not talking about electoral politics. I’m talking about airing your opinions in public.

I think if you have a strong sense of giving out something to your audiences, or to your listeners, or to society, you have all the right in the world to stand up and speak about matters. The only thing we need to understand, though, is give out your views, but don’t say the others’ views are wrong. Allow co-existence. At the same time, I say, yaar even the fact of freedom of speech, is it an objective—


It’s not an absolute freedom, of course.

It can’t be, na? You will say, “Okay, you were giving me this much, give me that much.” I buy that point completely, and I say that small little matters here and there should not even be looked at, should not even be thought about. People speak about what they want to speak about, yaar. Let life exist the way it exists. That’s how growth will happen. So, for somebody like me, I don’t have a problem with someone standing up and saying, “This is how I want to opine about matters.” But at the same time, I feel it should not go on the fringe of danger.

On television, sometimes when one hears the news, you hear these extreme views, either this way or that way. You find it very strange. For instance, one basic, basic rule—are two human beings born differently? No, they are not. So what are you talking about? Somebody says that this is right and this is wrong, I am telling you that we are right and they are wrong. Who are we and who are they? At the end of the day, gentlemen and ladies, we are human beings born in the same manner. After our birth, a certain stamp of a cult or religion is thrust upon us. It’s not out of choice for us. Will someone wake up to this reality, and have an objective view of looking at life and deciding what they want to look upon, and not what has been thrust upon them? Grow up, and when you have a mature mind, think about your choices in life. Make the right ones—that’s again from a subjective point of view.


One thing that has been shown up in this whole JNU incident is something that you’ve been talking about: this fundamental divide that has shown up at least in elite society, this whole dichotomy of Left and Right. There’s this drifting apart, they are consuming their own media. Can art play a role in bridging that gap?

Only to an extent. Unless you make things like political theatre, but that will also have one kind of view, which is also very narrow, because those people who will be exercising it will believe that this is the truth, but what is truth is something which each individual needs to discover for himself or herself. Though to govern a society, you need to have some basic rules set down, which is fine, you have to discover your own stuff. It is again a very individual choice.

If you want to be actively political in it, sure go ahead, but you can have, like I mentioned, I’m not a very political person at all, and I don’t side with any party for that matter, but I definitely feel that basics like freedom of speech and mutual co-existence on the basis of what I said, that are two people born differently, if this basic thing can be understood by one individual, then the fact of one community or the other community will cease to exist. Because, at the end of the day, if the creation of a human being has the same process, there cannot be a difference between two human beings. A community is formed by many individuals, but if two human beings are not different, a set of individuals cannot be different from a set of other individuals. I think if people realise this basic fact of life, they will stop ranting against the other community. Mutual respect is the most essential, and mutual co-existence is the best form of existence, I would say, and that makes the biggest statement ever.


Going back to Office-Office, most of the episodes would end with taking whatever you were satirising this week to its absurd conclusion, but every so often, there would be these heartfelt speeches by Musaddi when things go beyond the pale, when these people stretch the limits of humanity through their actions. What do you think works more—the emotional appeal, or a hard-hitting dark satire?

You know, it’s like in a family, say you have three kids, two kids or whatever, or if you have a family of ten people. As an intelligent person, or a sensitive person, you will be able to make out what is more effective for whom. So what happens is when you’re making something of this kind, you know that the satirical part will be appreciated by, will hit a certain audience, and the emotional part will hit a certain audience. You’re trying to cover that entire section of people. It is also subject to what is the kind of content. At certain times, a satirical approach, which was by and large the approach of the entire series, is more effective. Actually, what Office-Office did was it allowed us to laugh at ourselves.


Something that this country sorely lacks.

Yeah, and so needed at that time. Does not have it now, to be honest. Every individual that I’ve met, they’ve all of them said, “We’ve gone through this.” Either it was the ration card thing, or railways—at one place or the other, each one of them said they’d gone through something like this. So all of them felt they were Musaddis, and yet they were being represented on screen by somebody else. And by looking at him, they would laugh at that guy, and at the same time, associate with that person, which was I think a wonderful combination of satire and a sense of belonging that happened with the audiences.


Final question, and I suppose after a certain age, you start getting these questions of legacy. You’ve said in many interviews that for someone with your looks and your height, that you consider yourself fortunate to have had such a long career in the industry. But does it not bother you sometimes when you think of it from an inverted perspective, that here’s a multiple-National Award winner who’s produced some of the most well-known, most loved characters in recent history, who’s not been given his due? How do you think you will be remembered, and how would you like to be remembered?

Let me answer the first thing first. What happens is, sometimes on a given day, you’re in a certain state of mind, or mood, during an interview. And you realise that this is a magazine—I don’t know whether I should be saying this or not, but now that I’ve said it, I might as well finish it—which has just come to click a picture of yours and take a small bite from you, and you somehow express your gratitude to your co-workers. You know what I mean? It’s a moment of honesty, but a moment in which you’re not trying to run yourself down.

The idea when I said that, in terms of looks and all that, was that an industry which at one point looked at only chocolate faces, heights, physiques, accepted somebody who had potential as an actor. Instead of saying that, I just happened to say that “with my face and height”—which means, not the stereotype—but they misconstrued it, and they also printed a picture in which I looked horrible! You know what I mean? They took it so bloody literally. And if you react to it, then they will have a different kind of chain that will happen, so I just completely ignored it, but as a well-researched person like maybe you, who has read my interviews and then come to talk to me about this—I wouldn’t say that when I was a 10-year-old boy, it was only the passion of acting that took me in. You know, when I looked into a mirror, I thought I was one of the best-looking guys.

So what happens is, it depends upon which journalist takes up which part of it and puts it as headlines. For instance, one of my very early interviews, when I did Karamchand, there was this girl who interviewed me for Stardust or some such thing. And I opened the thing, and it said, “Who’s Afraid of Dilip Kumar?” I sent a letter to them saying that I have the greatest regard for Dilip saab; he’s one of the greatest actors our country has had. At a time when there was no training happening, the guy was experimenting with a lot of stuff. And just because there’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf , one play, someone has decided to put this headline, not knowing what would be the outcome of something of this kind and how it can impact me. It impacted me mentally, in the sense that how will I be perceived by people, yaar? I’m somebody who’s humble at heart, and it’s saying that I’m—I admire all these people who’ve done some fine work. Somebody asked me, “Who’s your favourite actor?” I said “None, but all.” All the great performances by a whole lot of actors, yaar.


Yeah, someone said that Rajesh Khanna was your inspiration just because you’d mentioned him.

Yeah, just because I mentioned that I used to see a lot of his work, his films, because when I was in 10th standard, that was the only exposure that I had in Ludhiana, and they said Rajesh Khanna was my hero, or my inspiration. For God’s sake, yaar! Due respect to Rajesh Khanna saab, but I mean that was the only exposure that I had. That’s what I was trying to say. So when I went to National School of Drama, and I was exposed to world theatre, world cinema, literature, painting, music, dance, the works, by Mr [Ebrahim] Alkazi, who was then the director, that I started understanding as to what I wanted to do in life. I was a 19-year-old boy, very impressionable age, and I was fortunate to go there at that age and come across somebody like him, who actually gave us that kind of exposure.

So in an interview I might have said that somebody who was seeing this films went to the School of Drama and met Mr Alkazi, and they forgot about Mr Alkazi, they forgot about my teacher, they forgot about my training, and they said my inspiration was Rajesh Khanna. With due respect to him; I mean, I’ve nothing against him, and I think he has given some very fine performances and he was one of the most popular stars that we’ve ever had. I’m saying it’s the question of a given journalist or the editor picking up a line and putting it as the headline, yaar.


As for the legacy part?

As for the legacy part, just frame the question again, please.


How do you think you will be remembered, and how would you like to be remembered?

See, I think, as I said earlier, that I’d like to be known as the sum total of the material that I had or have as an actor in my life, and the fact that I might have done less work, but I tried to stay as honest and committed to the work that I chose to pick up as humanly possible. By this, I’m not trying to say that I’m ahero, or a crusader or something—


But this is the least you could do.

Yeah, I mean, with the given circumstances, which means at times, I do work because I’m broke, but what I do is whatever work I’ve picked up, I try and put in my best at that. I don’t treat it as “This is only for money.” Even if it’s an ad. An ad is basically you’re going to earn money from it, but even in that I’m meticulous about what is the script, what am I doing, why am I standing here? I need to know. I just can’t go there and say, “Oh, this is the line that needs to be spoken? Blah, blah, blah, give me my money.”

It’s an approach which I’ve acquired all my life, and with God’s grace, I personally feel that when I see myself, from where I’ve come to where I am today, it’s a long journey, and it’s been enriching, and there is no dearth of what you want to do. Woh Ghalib ka sher hai na, Hazaaron khwaishein aisi, ke har khwaish pe dam nikle”? That is something which will go on. At this point of my life, there are 10 things that I want to do. I want to write a lot; about a year back, I started painting a bit. I want to paint also, I want to give performances, I want to direct, I want to do plays, I want to make films, because this is a creative world and I like being in it, yaar! That’s it.

After four years of pretending to study mechanical engineering—in Goa of all places—Ajachi Chakrabarti chose to pursue a career in journalism largely because said career didn't require him to wear formal shoes. He writes about culture and society, and believes grammar is the only road to salvation.

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