Gerson da Cunha on the ‘flow of soul’ in the Bhulabhai Desai Memorial Institute


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).


An interview with the veteran actor, Gerson da Cunha, on his days at the Bhulabhai Desai Memorial Institute. Bhulabhai, where he says a fusion of different minds happened due to the confluence of many forms of art, had a deep impact on his life, as he thinks it did on everybody’s life who had been associated with the place in its heyday. And if Cunha is to be believed, everybody who was in any way associated with the arts in Mumbai did have something or the other to do with Bhulabhai.

Cunha first came to Bhulabhai to act in Ebrahim Alkazi’s productions but the performances he remembers most were in the productions of another great director, Kersy Katrak. Two other directors who Cunha says were unforgettable personalities were Satydev Dubey and PL Deshpande.

At that time, Cunha says, there was a lack of good theatre in Mumbai. So, even though they did not do anything experimental at Bhulabhai, just their ability to produce good theatre was enough of a contribution to the field.

He says efforts were made to recreate the atmosphere of Bhulabhai after it had been pulled down due to financial reasons but those efforts never materialised into something as successful at capturing the soul of artists as Bhulabhai did.