Directed by Aniket Patil, Ovee is being pitched by its makers as the first ever Hindi horror play. It was premiered at Delhi’s Kamani Auditorium on 7 September, and is also being performed on Sunday, 8 September, at the same venue.
The play revolves around the life of a teenage girl (named Ovee, played by actor Deeksha Agnihotri), who loses her parents at an early age and is sent to an orphanage by her paternal uncle. During her stay there, she starts experiencing paranormal activities, and this is the plot point that forms the core of the play.
The theatrical production stars Rohit Roy, Sayantani Ghosh, Deeksha Agnihotri and Ridhima Bedi among others, and is produced by the Felicity Theatre Group. Ovee is a Hindi adaptation of an acclaimed play, originally written in Marathi by Aniket Patil along with Sachin Mestry. It has already been performed in Marathi and Gujarati.
Guardian 20 spoke to the director about how different the play’s Hindi version is from the others. “The Hindi adaptation is even bigger, thanks to the wide range of special effects, grand sets and lighting that promise to create a life-changing experience for theatre lovers,” said Aniket Patil.
Horror is a relatively unexplored genre in Hindi theatre and this inspired Patil to make the play in Hindi. He told us, “This play is the first-of-its-kind in the history of Hindi theatre. The audience will witness live horror with the help of some exceptional special effects.”
Patil did a lot of research before casting actors for the key roles. Like most filmmakers, Patil believes that casting is a crucial step and a project’s success depends on it. He said, “During my research, the first few names that I could think of were Rohit Roy and Sayantani Ghosh. Both of them are well-known faces and are very experienced. The role of the orphan girl demanded an innocent-looking, fresh face with immense talent. That’s why we roped in Diksha Agnihotri for it. All the team members, including the lead and supporting cast, are extremely talented and play their roles to perfection.”
Since the play relies heavily on special effects, it was a challenge for Patil to utilise these in a live setting and tie them into the narrative.
He credits his special effects team for overcoming the difficulties. “Felicity Theatre has made an extremely slick production and has made a serious effort to improve and emphasise on special effects, technology, lighting and an especially composed soundtrack to enhance the viewing experience of the audience. I am confident that all these aspects will add a new kind of energy to the play.”
We also spoke to the main leads, Rohit Roy and Sayantani Ghosh, about their roles and their experience of putting together Ovee.
Rohit said, “I play three different characters in the play: a wily uncle, a police officer and a psychiatrist. Each character is completely different from the other. The challenge was to make sure that the voice, the dialogue delivery and the intonations are different for each role. Since it’s a play, it’s doubly difficult because everything is happening live and I don’t have the luxury of time.”
Sayantani plays the role of a teacher and hostel matron in this play, which also happens to be her theatre debut. For her, Ovee’s story is its main strength. She said, “Supernatural genre has never been done on stage in Hindi and the story is the hero in this one. I have always wanted to enter the world of theatre. So for my debut venture I thought this was perfect. Felicity Theatre, lead by Rahul Buchar, is doing some amazing work in the theatre medium. Which was another reason for me to associate with them.”
Mostly seen in television shows, Sayantani said that theatre is the toughest medium to be a part of, but is also a great platform to grow as an artiste. “There are no retakes. One has to perform in front of a live audience. You don’t have any margin of error as you have to perform live. It truly tests your calibre as an artiste. To remember all your lines… In this case, out of the 16 scenes I am a part of, 14 are where I am doing the maximum bit. It’s really challenging. After so many years of TV, I am truly being challenged and pushed.”
When asked about her biggest takeaway from this experience, Sayantani replied, “Confidence, for sure!” She went on to talk about the things she has learned by being a part of Ovee. “When you successfully execute the script without forgetting anything and manage to touch the audience emotionally, it surely strengthens your belief in your talent. Even if an error occurs on stage, you should be able to deal with it confidently, have the presence of mind and continue with the performance. And when you are able to achieve this, it really helps in building confidence,” she said.