FPJ Bureau | Updated on: Saturday, June 01, 2019, 08:05 PM IST


Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, a well- known theatre personality, is best known for The Vagina Monologues , produced and directed with her son Kaizaad Kotwal, under the banner of Poor- Box Productions.

The play has been running to packed houses in India since March 2003. Mahabanoo studied at J. B Petit High School for Girls and St. avier’s College, Mumbai, where she got a B. Sc in Microbiology- Chemistry and another B. Sc in Geology- Chemistry. She also studied dramatics and recently took a course in directing at ale University.



A sense of humour is important

A sense of humour, a passion for what I do and a sense of responsibility towards my work and those I work for, and with, are according to me important.


When I worked abroad ( during filming of a film and a four- month stint with The Theatre of Comedy in London, I learnt two very important lessons. One was to be respectful of one’s peers ( two of whom were great legends of British theatre and films) and the second was to state my stand, in case of any issue arising, in a truthful and responsible manner, so as not to offend and yet gain respect of the person concerned. I also learnt the value of always being on time as that was insisted upon in no uncertain terms.

Live and thrive in the circumstances you are in

I have always had to learn to live and thrive in the circumstances I found myself in. When I was in USA, I worked as a research assistant where Crest Toothpaste was formulated. Then I was busy with my family. The turning point came in 1988 when my son Kaizaad came for a vacation from USA and asked me to act in a play he directed for the USIS. The rest for me is history. This little window in my life opened as a large door was closing.


My way of thinking ( absurd as it may seem) has been greatly influenced by my children, Nairika and Kaizaad. It was Kaizaad who insisted I bring The Vagina Monologues to India and after some hesitation, I did, and look where it’s got me. I read what they recommend, see movies they recommend… and that makes for some very exciting and spontaneous discussions. I have met so many wonderful and a few not so wonderful people along the way… Many taught me how to be, and some taught me how NOT to be.

No running around on performance days

A typical day starts quietly early morning with a steaming cup of coffee and reading at least three newspapers.

Then having breakfast with my mother who is wheel- chair bound. Then I may rehearse some pieces or run a few errands. Lunch, followed by doing some crossword puzzles, sudoku and a power nap. Evenings are also quiet, reading scripts, watching the news which is more entertaining than TV shows and a very light dinner … On performance days, it’s an early lunch and no running around. I am lazy as far as exercising is concerned, but I have recently started walking and doing stretching exercises. Weekends are spent relaxing, reading, watching films and evenings in the company of good friends. I try to meditate daily and chant. But if I skip a day, I know God understands and won’t smite me down!

Learn to think for yourself

I have heard a lot of people say that ‘ Education is not everything” But in my humble opinion, it’s what goes along with the process of that education that makes or mars us. Success, failure, disappointment, confidence or even the lack of it, are all by- products of education. So also, to learn to think for yourself, to question all that seems to you absurd and to realise that ‘ IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME’. And naturally, all this is the product of very hard work I have no boundaries in my mind of caste, colour, religion, gender preferences of people or their standing in society.

I do not believe in organised religion at all. So, when one has no limitations to any ideas, one can try anything and thereby achieve anything! I value my time and do not like to work with people who are habitually late.

Go where no one dares to go

What is the one important thing I believe is essential for success? To go where no one dares to go! ou may fail at times but at least you won’t regret some day that you never even tried doing it!

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Published on: Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 09:27 AM IST