'The Job': A sneak peek into the scary corporate world
'The Job' is an English play about an unconventional workplace, that borders a little on the problematic side
When Akarsh Khurana first directed the cine play The Interview in 2010, he did not know that 11 years later, it would debut on Zee Theatre as The Job in the form of a teleplay.
The Job is an English play about an unconventional workplace, that borders a little on the problematic side. The director explains that since it was written in a pre Me Too era, it shows you the many intrusive, personal questions that people got away with asking in the corporate world. It has slight undertones of sexual harassment in the workplace, adds he.
Khurana says, “Of course, we took a lot of creative freedom with the play, but it’s inspired by the many weird and real incidents that happened in our lives in a corporate setup.”
Khurana feels that audiences all over the country could relate to the play because every other person has been on the receiving end of a corporate bashing. He says, “What bosses expect you to do, and how much they expect you to do for them, they treat you like you’re not human. It’s a very power-hungry and hierarchical structure.”
This relatability factor happens to be the reason for this being the longest running play of Khurana’s production company. And also the reason that Khurana knew he wanted to direct it. It has done more than 110 shows, performed in over 26 cities throughout the country. The director says, “We knew the play was being accepted across audiences, so we were excited when the question of making it a teleplay came up.”
Khurana is glad that a positive, albeit small, change has come up in the corporate world today, people are a lot more aware today. Now one has to be careful in what they say and how they deal with their employees, says the director. But, “Even after 10 years of having written the play, a few things are similar. Our play is making a statement about all those wrongs,” Khurana says.
But why is he re-directing the play after all these years? Khurana explains that The Interview was made as an educational property for private circulation, to be showcased across global institutions who wanted to see Indian theatre. And now, Zee Theatre has acquired and is producing many such plays for their merit.
For Khurana, it was a totally different and new experience. He had to use his theatre knowledge and camera skills to come up with something that could remain true to both forms. “The interesting thing about the teleplay format is that it’s not really a film or a play, it’s a mix of both. And this happened to be my first hybrid experience,” he shares.
Of course, Khurana had the advantage that he’s been running a theatre company since 21 years and has been involved in the film industry for 18 years. But there’s still a world of difference between the two mediums. Khurana says, “Filmmaking is a technical process, and many departments come together with a collaborative vision. Theatre also has a lot of technicalities, but it has lesser parts and people to worry about.”
Though there were a lot of complications regarding when the camera should come in, when the sound should come in, and everything else between theatre and filmmaking, Khurana admits that the project felt more exciting than challenging to him.
And while the whole shoot was going on, Khurana was more than elated to be united with his dream team. “We had done so many shows that my actors were completely in character and knew the play backwards. It was really just about finding like minded people to change the format of the play with, and we got very lucky with the team.”
Khurana adds that there’s one thing that has been his favourite part in the play ever since it was first performed. In the first few minutes of the play, there is a choreographed musical sequence through which the characters and setting is introduced. Since it is choreographed, it has the undertones of a stylised machinery, that is the corporate world, where employees are slaves. “It’s a symbolic choreography and I love it because it sets up the play very well,” smiles the director.
Khurana is now in talks with Zee Theatre to do two more teleplays, a thriller and a comedy, both early next year.