“Theatre,” actress Lillete Dubey ruminates, “is a pure place for me. It is one of the few bastions where one isn’t completely driven by commerce.” A woman of many hats, her passion for dramatics needs no introduction. But, her drive to bring engaging stories to the audience surely does. Lillete Dubey is all geared up to present New Delhi’s audience with her two directorial productions – ‘Salaam, Noni Appa’ and ‘Kanyadaan’ – next week. Her play titled “Salaam, Noni Appa” is a leaf straight out of actress-turned-writer Twinkle Khanna’s bestseller book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad and is being adapted for the stage by writer Adhir Bhat. A delightful tale of two polar opposite sisters, Noni Appa and Binni, whose world turns into one after marriage, children and widowhood. What made her take up this story, in particular? “I felt like doing something with humour and romance. The play resonated personally as it is about the relationship between two sisters. And, my sister Lushin and I, are extremely close since childhood. It’s also about a life stage that is very close to mine. Noni has lost her husband many years ago. The younger sister is constantly thinking of new activities and one of the hobbies brings a relatively younger yoga teacher into their lives and things start changing.” The aspect of life being full of unexpected surprises is what this play explores. Dubey adds, “As long as you’re open to new experiences, you can work, find love and friendships. We think that this can only happen when you’re young. But, the play breaks those stereotypes and shows that this is true at any age.” The second play “Kanyadaan” – by playwright Vijay Tendulkar – traces the story of a family where the daughter gets married to a not-so-ideal man, and shows the repercussions of the same. “It’s to do with the class divide, anywhere in the world, or any other contrasting sociocultural and economic background, and the conflict that lies in relationships,” confesses Dubey, adding, “I’m restless as an actor and director and want complete freedom to content and casting the way I do. I’ve done plays on Zen Buddhism and child sexual abuse, and I’m attracted to plays that have strong female protagonists.” Dubey says it makes her happy when Indian audiences embrace new stories pan media. “It’s so lovely to see how people are trying to change themes and subjects in films. It’s easy to say that ‘Oh! Audience won’t like this stuff’. But, we are dumbing down the audience by saying ‘Arrey inko toh yeh sab nahin pasand hain’. Today, people are so exposed and interested in different subjects,” she adds. Mention Delhi and Dubey becomes nostalgic about the wide gamut of plays that she has done with her mentor and theatre director Barry John. “I was lucky. He was the most creative and active during those years, as he was directing plays every three-four months,” she concludes with a coat of sweet memories. Published in Daily Times, January 13th 2019.