Actor Rishabh Kapoor has over the years come to be known as one of the most familiar faces in the Indian theatre space of New Zealand with over 15 theatre shows, several short and feature films and commercials to his name. He dons the director's hat with the upcoming play 'Yatra' by Prayas Theatre Company as it completes 15 years in New Zealand.
Besides acting and now directing, Rishabh is an Income Tax Lawyer having previous work experiences in India and works for Vodafone and looks after his family's enterprise here in New Zealand.
Although passionate about acting, in his early days Rishabh struggled to get on the stage and showcase his acting prowess. He recalls his school days when he was denied auditioning for the role of Julius Caeser that further hit his confidence to take up acting.
It was not until a few years ago, Rishabh's friend pushed him to audition for feature film made in Mumbai which actually turned out to be Bollywood's blockbuster film in 2014 by Rajkumar Hirani, ‘PK' starring Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma and late Sushant Singh Rajput in the lead roles.
Not many people know, but Rishabh cleared his auditions and also had a minute and a half scene in the film with Aamir Khan which was later omitted before release.
After moving to New Zealand, Rishabh made sure he never let go off his rediscovered love for acting and being on the stage. Juggling between his full-time job and family enterprise, Rishabh auditioned for different characters and was given his first break in New Zealand by Ahi Karunaharan from Prayas Theatre Company in the play 'A Fine Balance'.
"Prayas is family for me; it's the warmest bunch of people who love theatre and telling Indian stories to the world.
"It has been a place where I feel myself, having no professional training or background in acting, they accepted me with open arms and let me nourish my career as an actor," Rishabh says about getting his break at Prayas.
Rishabh calls acting his first love and says nothing in the world excites him more than being on the stage or in front of a camera performing.
"These past years, I have done everything I can to either be on stage or film or a set or wherever I can either act or watch and learn from art being created; it keeps me young and full of passion," Rishabh adds.
With five theatre plays with Prayas and a few with other theatre companies Rishabh has played the diverse roles from a person who does shows on streets with monkeys, a street vendor selling tea, an Indian Soldier in the war of Gallipoli, to playing the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and many more.
Speaking about different roles he has portrayed, Rishabh says he preps on every element of the character he is playing starting from his walking style, the enunciation of words, learning the intricate details of the character, dialogues, body language etc.
"I would learn lines while doing my daily chores or working out or cooking...my family, sometimes would get irritated because when I am working on a character, I start behaving like it till the time it's done" Rishabh added.
For his work in the short film 'Khush', he was awarded Best Actor at My Rode Reel Film competition in 2019. The film was also a finalist in the Best Drama category at the competition.
Rishabh says that the popularity of South Asian playwrights and Indian stories in New Zealand has grown manifold here in New Zealand, especially with the non-Indian audience.
"The Prayas audience has a really big number of Pakeha members, in the last five years, we have gone from an audience size of 1300-1500 to almost 9000 plus for a show.
Speaking about the crew, Rishabh says, "We have worked and are working with people from all parts of the world, and our usual cast size ranges from 25-30 people plus a few more on the crew for a show."
Prayas is completing 15 years of its work in New Zealand and its upcoming production 'Yatra' produced by Ahi Karunaharan is something intricate and emotionally overwhelming.
Rishabh will be directing two of the eight short presentations, namely, 'I really want to meet God' written by Shashikant Tasgaonkar and 'Thaneer Thaneer (Water)' written by Komal Swaminathan.
"Yatra will take its audience on a journey of eight unique stories told through the lens of five directors, woven into one theatrical evening and this milestone production is brought to life by Prayas' award-winning ensemble, boasting 20+ performers," an overview about Yatra on Prayas' website read. ‘Yatra’ will be performed at Tapac Theatre in Western Springs from October 1 to 10.
TAPAC, 100 Motions Rd, Pt Chevalier
Tickets: $25 - $30
Bookings at https://www.tapac.org.nz/whats-on/yatra-prayas