With the play Nine Faces of Being, best-selling author Anita Nair turns into a playwright. The story, adapted from Nair’s book Mistress, is being staged in the city from Wednesday; and tells the tale of love, longing, betrayal and envy against the backdrop of the Kathakali dance form. We catch up with the author to find out more about her experience of turning her pages into a live act.
The play Nine Faces of Being is based on your book Mistress. As a writer of the original plot and then as a playwright for the same, how was the transition?
It wasn’t very difficult. I took up the task because the progression came naturally. From the first scene that I sat down to write, it came very easily to me. Post that, it was almost like turning the words into a scene, which I could envision in my mind. Also, playwriting was not as taxing, because the story had already been written and I did not have to work on the plot or develop characters from scratch.
What are your expectations from the play?
I watch the play as someone from the audience and not as the creator of the story. This is an amazing experience, considering that I know the characters and the plot. When I wrote the play, there were some aspects of it which I couldn’t bring to life as the story is based on a performance art (Kathakali). So, the adaptation of the story into a live act has so much greater impact because you can see the characters in flesh and blood, breathing life into the words that have been written.
The play, though based on your book Mistress, is titled Nine Faces of Being. Why so?
Though the story is adapted, Nine Faces of Being is a separate body of work. There are parts and characters in the play which are not present in the book, and have been developed for the dramatization aspect.
Playwrights and directors often don’t get an opportunity to work together. How was your experience working with Arundhati Raja, who has directed the play?
It was marvelous, because we both had the same vision and harmony of thought. Arundhati, an expert of stage craft, has chosen each of the characters remarkably well. During the process, we shared a synergy of thought, with my technical suggestions on the cadence of the plot and her expertise on characterisations and direction of the story.
As the creator of the original tale, which are your favourite parts of the theatrical adaptation?
There are two monologues in the play, which hit me hard, every time I watch them. One is that of Sunderam, a character, who is a superb dancer, but doesn’t possess the stroke of brilliance. His delivery on the emotion of envy, where he is doomed to live a life of mediocrity is a powerful act. Another is that of Shyam, a husband who lashes out with his anger, when he discovers that he has been betrayed, is another act which has an immense impact on me.