Pooh Sayani on the beginnings of English theatre in Bombay


This series of interviews was conducted while researching for the book, The Scenes We Made: An Oral History of Experimental Theatre in Bombay, ed. Shanta Gokhale (Mumbai: Speaking Tiger Books, 2015).


Siraj-Ayesha Sayani or Pooh Sayani currently produces the Sultan Padamsee Awards for Playwriting. Here, she talks about her lifelong involvement with the theatre and allied arts, an involvement that began with her family.

We learn about how Sultan Padamsee formed the Theatre Group at St. Xavier’s College, thus marking the beginning of serious English theatre in Bombay, the rehearsals for which were held on the roof of the ancestral home of the Padamsees, Kulsum Terrace.

With the entry of Ebrahim Alkazi, for whom, Pooh Sayani says, theatre was a very serious thing, the rehearsals moved to the terrace of Bhulabhai Desai Memorial Institute and to other bigger places thereafter.