Raj Ghatak on a life of treading the boards
You cannot mistake that cheeky grin, youthful face and general familiarity. Raj Ghatak is one of those actors you recognise, but are not quite sure, where from. There’s no point Googling him, his Wiki page is shambolic (any fans out there, please go in and update it).
Somehow his ridiculously long CV hasn’t made it online despite the fact he’s been in more plays then one would believe existed with Asian parts.
After training at The Central School of Speech and Drama he appeared on stage, in West End musicals, TV and film. Which explains why it’s so hard to know where you’ve seen him…unless of course you remember him from the megashow that was Andrew Lloyd Webber and A R Rahman’s Bombay Dream; the musical that also launched the career of Preeya Kalidas.
But while she turned her singing into a pop career, Raj focused on the plays, and this week sees him starring in his latest production Golgotha. Directed by Iqbal Khan, who recently directed The Royal Shakespeare Company’s elaborate Indian Much Ado About Nothing, the story centres on two characters, with the two parts performed as monologues. One half is led by actress Anjana Vasan who plays Loretta, an Indian girl that arrives in Victorian England to work as a nanny while Raj plays Kalil in the second half, Loretta’s grandson who leaves East Africa to start a new life in London.
Momtaz Begum-Hossain caught up with Raj in between rehearsals and here’s what he revealed…
So Raj, what’s all this about you being a proper Bengali?
Acting is in my Bengali roots! I was in theatre from the age of five though I didn’t start getting proper work until I was around nine or 10.
Bringing the money in early? That sounds like a respectable Asian boy. Why didn’t you choose a more respectable career?
I almost did! Although I was acting I was good at science and spent three years training to be an Osteopath, just to see what it was like…it wasn’t for me! I went back to acting but I believe that all events happen for a reason and there are elements of my Osteopath training that I can bring to acting.
Scenario. You’ve landed your dream part. Who’s the leading lady?
Someone pair me up with Cate Blanchett! She’s my dream co-star, her and Johnny Depp…I know he’s not a lady but I’d like to work with him…ooh and Meryl Streep. Cate is a quality actress who gets to know her character inside out. I recently met a director who had worked with Meryl Streep and was really intrigued by his stories; I would love to see what she’s like for myself!
Golgotha. Sell it to me.
It’s a new story that’s never been heard before. This year marks the 40th anniversary of when South Asians were expelled from Uganda so it’s timely too. It’s well written, will make you laugh and cry and for me as an actor, it’s really testing to play. It’s strengthened me having to act out such a long monologue.
Sounds tiring and it’s a long run. What about those days when you just don’t feel like it?
Every performance I give is my best, that’s what people have paid to see. Whenever I have any doubts about going on stage, or if I don’t feel like it, I remember that people have paid good money and they expect a good evening. I’m also inspired by Sami Davis Jr who said; ‘You can’t please everyone but you can make them say he gave it his all.’ Going to see a play is like a date, you can look forward to it for a while and I don’t want to let those people down. I hope I’m not building myself up for when you come and see it…
Don’t worry. We’ll ask for our money back, even though you probably don’t get refunds on press tickets…hmm.
Final question have you ever broken a leg?
Eh? No. Oh…’break a leg’. No it’s not happened yet. If you hate the show maybe you’ll break my leg….?
Golgotha by Conspirator’s Kitchen Theatre is on at The Tristan Bates Theatre from Wed 14th November –Sat 8th December, 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12/£10 and are available from the box office: 0207 240 6283.