‘I was terrified of forgetting my lines!’: Suneeta Rao on her comeback to theatre after 18 years – “If I had another life, I would have been an actor,” enthuses Suneeta Rao. The pop diva might have said that to us but the fact is, she is doing a good job at juggling her music and acting career. While she did act in a couple of plays early on in her career, including Evita (1984) and Grease (1986), her singing career took off and she got busy with it. It’s after a gap of 18 years that she’s made a comeback with Ishitta Arun’s Gaa Re Maa for Prithvi Festival 2018, which tells the quirky story of two musical women and their sons. They have performed in the capital where they received a “warm reaction” and now are gearing up to stage it in Mumbai. With her feet firmly back in the world of theatre, Suneeta hopes to get more opportunities to showcase her acting chops on stage. Over to her…
ACTING HER HEART OUT
It was while I was doing theatre that my pop career took off. So, when I did the play Man Of La Mancha in 2000, that was itself after a long gap. It is now, after being a pop singer for so many years, that I felt in my gut that I wanted to act again. I was doing an acting workshop when I got a call from Ishitta to ask if I wanted to act in this play. It was one of those things when you put out your energies and the universe makes it happen. This is not a musical but a play about music. There is some live singing which is an important part of the play but mine is essentially an acting role.
BECOMING ANITA PETERS
The nurturing and chiselling of the character has been one of the toughest experiences for me. Finding out my character, Anita Peter’s quirks and her background was quite challenging. I had to put myself in her shoes and become the character.
Making a comeback on stage after such a long gap was nerve-wracking. I was terrified of forgetting my lines! I have a capacity to remember two whole hours of singing because the musical association helps me remember them. But acting is a different ballgame altogether, so I had to work really hard.
MAKING MUSIC RELEVANT
As soon as I finish the play, I will make a music video for climate change, the music for which has been composed by Dhruv Ghanekar. The song is called Vaada Karo and I wrote it many years ago. I’m crowd-funding the music video. I’m going to be passing the hat around and make it a non-profit initiative because I believe global warming is of the biggest issues we face today. All my music videos, whether it was Choti Choti Baatein which was about forgetting petty differences or Dhuaan which is anti-smoking, have had something to say. My music has always expressed what I have felt about relevant issues without being activist about it.
Gaa Re Maa on Nov 6 and 7 at 7.30 pm at Royal Opera House and on Nov 8 at 6 pm and 9 pm at Prithvi Theatre