Admitted the National Award-winning director Prakash Belawadi whose performance in an ensemble theatre work surprised him with a global honour Down
“Honestly, I don’t even know how to respond to this honour as I am more ofa backstage person having spent most of my life in theatre, doing lightingand direction. I have taught acting, but I started acting professionally onlyafter I turned 50,” he informs, quick to add, “I had never anticipated acareer in acting, let alone international recognition at this level. A HelpmannAward is the Australian equivalent of Tony Awards for Broadway or LaurenceOlivier Awards for West End theatre.”Prod him on details of the play, in particular his character, and Belawadiinforms that it is the result of an inspired effort by Eamon Flack andShakthidharan, with the latter borrowing a lot material from his own family.“My character Apah is based on his own great grandfather, a famous LankanTamil mathematician and parliamentarian who was distraught over theescalation of language and ethnic conflicts in Ceylon, which was laterrenamed Sri Lanka,” he explained.The play packed full houses Down Under despite not having a single whiteAustralian in the cast. “It was an eye opener for me in many ways. Thelocation itself had special significance for a country that has had to reckonwith migration and its own history of colonialism,” he stated.Ask him about the difference in approach to acting in films as compared totheatre and he explains that the latter is really a medium of experiencecreated in shared space and time, live, with an audience. “The performanceis not fragmented into edited cuts, close-ups and sequenced shots. An actorhas to imagine narrative trajectories in completely different ways,” he said.“There are no retakes on stage, no time out. You go out there and live it.Actors work within themselves, with each other and the audience to build anarrative aesthetic. It’s thrilling but also somewhat frightening.”Next up for Prakash Belawadi is the Sujeeth directorial 'Saaho', fronted byPrabhas and Shraddha Kapoor. But prod him on it and he suddenly clams upand the curtains come down.