CLASS ACT: Soni Razdan


SONI RAZDAN DISCUSSES HER NEW FILM, THEATRE AND LATEST STAGE ROLE

by ASJAD NAZIR

THE theatre play everyone has been talking about in recent weeks is When The Crows Visit and at the heart of it is acclaimed actress Soni Razdan.

She has been delighting audiences with another powerful performance in the family drama that has received wide critical acclaim and once again shown off her impressive versatility with a challenging role.

The play continues a close UK connection for the actress, who was born in England, raised in India and studied her craft at the Guildhall School Of Music And Drama.

Soni has done a lot of work in England and was clearly delighted to be on the London stage when Eastern Eye caught up with her to discuss acting, When The Crows Visit, her film No Fathers In Kashmir, superstar daughter Alia Bhatt and more.

You are very versatile, but how does theatre compare to the other acting mediums?
Each medium has its advantages and brings its own excitement to one’s life. It is so wonderful to be on stage because you are doing the performance every night in front of a live audience and need discipline. There are a lot of things I enjoy about filming as well, so can’t say which I prefer. I like to do everything and that keeps me on my toes.

You must be thrilled with the reviews that When The Crows Visit has got?
It is always lovely to get a good review, but it means a lot to me to get the audience’s appreciation directly, which you get on stage. Also, when you leave the theatre at night, someone may be waiting to greet you and tell you they enjoyed the show. Then you see it online. All these things add up.

Soni Razdan in When The Crows Visit (Photo: Mark Douet)

Your character in When The Crows Visit is emotionally demanding…
The whole play is demanding on all of us. When I first got the script, I didn’t even know she is in a wheelchair and thought she is just in bed for the whole show, and that I will have a lovely time. But even when you are in bed or a wheelchair, the amount of energy you expend is the same as running around on stage. I’m really enjoying the part because it is beautifully written. It is giving me a lot of opportunities to play around and do different things. I haven’t actually done a role like this ever or played someone in this age group. She is so amazing.

Do you feel a change in your performance during the run of a theatre play like this?
It seems to change and that is the whole beauty of theatre. One of the things I love about theatre is that every time you do a show it is slightly different and you find something new. That is the magic of it for an actor.

Is there any one moment in the play that is your favourite?
I love the first scene because there are lots of funny bits in that. It’s just whacko and she is just having fun, taking the mickey out of her nurse and just enjoying herself. I loved that. It was fun to do.

Soni Razdan with Ayesha Dharker in When The Crows Visit (Photo: Mark Douet)

What is the secret of a good performance on stage?
Being truthful to your character.

What makes for good theatre?
Theatre is so vast that it could be anything really, so I don’t know if there is any one thing that makes for good theatre, but obviously, the first thing that is required is a good script. Without that, I don’t think you can do much.

What’s your dream role?
I don’t think there is any such thing as a dream role. Honestly, not at this age.

How much does it help having good actors opposite you? 
I think it just elevates whatever you are trying to do. When you have a good actor opposite you, you will always be better… because acting is not acting, it is reacting. So if you react to a bad performance, it will show in your performance.

You must be happy No Fathers In Kashmir is finally getting a UK release in January 2020. What was the experience of working on that film like?
That was a hard film to shoot because we were stuck in the back of beyond somewhere outside Kashmir where we didn’t have many facilities, heating or a hotel; it was not a comfortable shoot. But the whole experience, including seeing it through to release was great. When you believe in something and think it is good, it makes the whole journey worthwhile. It was lovely working with (director) Ashvin Kumar. I loved the script and think it’s a wonderful film.

Would you agree it is also an important film?
It is! What was astounding to us was when it ran in India and there were full houses at 9.30am in Bangalore because sometimes we didn’t get evening shows, but people wanted to see the film, so they came to watch it. Many were crying and thanked us for making this movie because there is so much misconception about Kashmir and what the issues there are. It was enlightening for many people and that was the idea.

You must be proud of your superstar daughter Alia Bhatt’s achievements. Does she come to you for advice?
Not really. She is pretty sorted in the advice department now, but of course, when she was younger it was different. She has always been pretty sorted because she has a great management team. My husband and I play a peripheral role in that sense. Possibly, my husband (Mahesh Bhatt) plays a bigger role. He is very good at giving emotional guidance.

What inspires you today?
A lot of things inspire me. Looking forward to working with interesting people is something that really inspires me. Looking forward to something good happening in terms of work is inspiring because there is a lot of good work happening. Today in India, actors of my age are getting good work after a long time, so now opportunities have come our way and they are very inspirational.

Why do you love being an actor?
I have no idea. I have always loved it. Every time I do something I find a challenge within it and that is what is exciting. It keeps me alive and going.

No Fathers In Kashmir releases in UK cinemas in January 2020.
When The Crows Visit is on at Kiln Theatre in London until November 30.
Visit www.kilntheatre.com