Tanvi Trivedi (BOMBAY TIMES; July 7, 2018)

There is much more to actress Shikha Talsania than playing the distressed Meera Sood, who is bogged down by household responsibilities after having a baby in Veere Di Wedding. She has to her credit not only interesting films like Wake Up Sid (2009), Midnight’s Children (2012) and Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji (2011), but has made a place for herself in theatre and recently made her debut as a co-director in the play Dekh Behen.

Shikha says, “I have grown up with theatre around me. My parents (Tiku Talsania and Dipti) are still doing plays after so many years. I always knew I wanted to be on stage. The feeling is exquisite. There is a different high in performing live and the audience is breathing with you.”

The actress finds the theatre scene in Mumbai to be a vibrant one. She dismisses the notion that people here spend more money on watching a film than a play. “Theatre has always been running to full houses for years now. All those who feel that people in Mumbai don’t have the sensibility for theatre are ill-informed,” she says.

Shikha says, “Mumbai has a vibrant theatre culture, especially for youngsters. Gujarati and Marathi theatre are flourishing. From childhood, I’ve been seeing people flock to watch Gujarati plays in Mumbai, so I wonder why people think that the crowds here only watch films. All those who love theatre go and watch plays, but they also watch films. It is not vice versa. I have acted in so many plays with varied content — One On One, Internal Affairs, The Ugly One and they are happening at different venues around the city. In fact, John Steinbeck (US author) once said, ‘Theatre is the only institution in the world which has been dying for 4,000 years and has never succumbed’. That can be applied to Mumbai as well.”

Ask the actress about the theatres she loves to frequent in the city — be it on stage or off it as an audience — and she has many interesting things to share. “As someone who likes watching plays, I have some great memories associated with Tejpal Auditorium and Bhaidas Hall, as I grew up watching my parents perform at these places. In fact, I have some wonderful backstage memories at Bhaidas Hall. I also love the YB Chavan Auditorium,” she says, adding, “Having said that, my favourite venue is Prithvi Theatre anyday. It has been a dream to perform there. I have also loved performing at the NCPA and Jamshed Bhabha Theatre at Nariman Point. I have had the privilege of performing at most of the popular theatre spots in Mumbai — whether it is the new places like the Cuckoo Club in Bandra or eateries, I have performed at numerous places in the city and each time the experience was unique.”

Shikha gets to watch plays from other cities when she is travelling for plays. She says, “We travel like crazy for our plays in the country. What is common to all the cities — Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore is that if the content is good, there’ll be no dearth of people coming to watch it.”