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Verve People
February 15, 2017

In The Company Of Shruti Vyas and Namit Das

Text by Nittal Chandarana. Photograph by Manasi Sawant. Make-Up and Hair by Shreya Suvarnkar

The actors known for their comic timing and command of the craft, speak to us about their journey as a pair

While they were both keen on making it big early in their lives, neither imagined that the stage would be their calling. “I am an actor by chance, I had trained to be a singer. Music didn’t give me the right signals back in college, where the theatre scene was vibrant. I reasoned that acting was another way of expressing yourself. Till date I deny that I want to be one but somehow keep getting cast,” affirms Namit Das. For his better half Shruti Vyas, the profession literally beckoned her. “I was trying to be an airhostess before joining the theatre group Ekjute with my brother, Sumeet. While I was doing that, a British telefilm called Sharpe’s Challenge happened. I got that role in spite of speaking English terribly.”

From an initial phase of hesitance to the quiet confidence they now enjoy, the couple has cemented its place in Mumbai’s theatre circuit. It’s also not uncommon to see either of them on television — Das gained recognition post a Vodafone commercial. Vyas was the face of the OLX Womaniya campaign. Even though both have enjoyed the glamour of films, especially Das with Wake Up Sid (2009), they keep going back to the stage. Vyas is part of Cinematograph’s new offering I Don’t Like It As You Like It, that carries on the tradition of combining Shakespeare’s words with mime and clowning. Meanwhile Das is all set to perform in Mira Nair’s Broadway rendition of Monsoon Wedding (2001), essaying the character of P.K. Dubey, the tent contractor.

Unlike others, this couple has consciously made the decision to avoid sharing stage or screen space. They were to come together for the television show Sumit Sambhal Lega (2015), an Indian adaptation of American sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, but Vyas refused. She explains that, “My father is a writer. My brother, an actor-director. At a very early age I have seen the atmosphere wherein a person carries home too much from work. I realised that this is a very complicated field. You are not even yourself when you’re at work. Imagine two people staying together sharing that moment.” Das thinks otherwise. “It was difficult for me to understand that,” he says. “I was convinced that we should both take it up. Our personal chemistry would reflect on screen. But two months into the show when I was neck deep in work, I understood.” Vyas elaborates, “He returned home one day and thanked me for not being a part of it. The show was a replica of what was happening with us off-screen which included marriage and setting up our home. It would have been claustrophobic.”

When it comes to their profession, they are pragmatic, but their personal life is a different story. Their relationship saw a turbulent start. “Ten days into it, I thought we were getting into a serious phase, and I backed out,” reveals Das. “This after saying that he sees us getting married and having children,” quips Vyas. “She said there was no point to this and walked out. I couldn’t see her so sad so we got back together,” he says with a serious face. “That was the day he grew up,” she laughs.

The two share an easy camaraderie, and are secure in their own space in a fiercely competitive industry. They rubbish any talk of competition. “We’re not athletes – actors are people who express, a lot of which comes from their personalities. We have very different temperaments, and accordingly, are very different performers,” explains Das. There may not be a better artist here, but there’s certainly a star. “I have more demands. I also have more shower gels! I’m definitely the queen in the relationship,” he confesses. “And I require more space,” she concedes.

When asked to present a fictional reference to their relationship, Das compares it to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. “We’ve known each other for eight years — six while dating and two of marriage. We know how the other person reacts, how they talk, their insecurities, the advantages of the relationship, and so on. We are now only looking at how to keep this going in the best way possible,” he signs off.

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