Let me declare this from the rooftops- of the very few talents that nature has bestowed upon me, acting is one. I have always, always loved to act. The idea of theatre, the idea of living a different life altogether, the sheer joy of being someone other than yourself is inexplicable.
Ever since a child, I used to spend my time imitating relatives, teachers and my friends. Unfortunately and Fortunately, since I spent the major part of my school life changing schools, I was never a really successful actor in school. By the time I was settled in one place, it was time to shift. The other major problem which I perceived to heavily exist in schools was favouritism. I was never any teacher’s favorite so no good roles for me! Probably because I talked too much!
It has only been here in college that I have been able to fully express my theatrical talents all thanks to the amateur theatre society of my college-Naqaab (which loosely translates as the The Masque) Since its inception in 2013, our theatre group has staged atleast 6 times. And everytime it has been a more enriching experience for me.
On the 17th of August, my college completed 10 years of its inception. On this great ocassion, we the theatre society performed a play called “Haveli ki Deewar” (The wall of the Mansion)
The play was set in early 20th century Bengal. It was a story of a Zamindar family. (In British India, Zamindars used to be landowners who held almost all landholdings and in order to allow the poor to work on them, charged exhorbitant taxes. This system was called zamindari.)
So the story went like this- A progressive zamindar in 1951 tells his daughter an old anecdote of an elderly zamindar whose who did not have a grandson and remained worried about the fate of his zamindari.Despite having married thrice, his son had failed to deliver a progeny. Slowly and slowly the zamindar becomes convinced that his son is impotent and that he must get his daughter in law impregnated through other means.
My close friend Utkarsh Singh played the progressive zamindar with Chandni Singh as his curious daughter. While I played the elderly zamindar, my good friend Soumya Tiwari played my mother. Anushree Moitra played my wife and the very talented Sonakshi Banerjee portryed the role of my daughter in law. Chandan Maheshwari played my son. There were three servants in the play and all had crucial roles. Aman Shukla, Vinay Sheel and Sheetal Singh Tomar carried out their roles with great finesse. All in all, it was a multiple starrer play and all thanks to the amazing Director, Harsh Pathak assisted by Abhilasha Singh and Anshita Mani the play was a success. My friend Bhavesh Yadav compiled great music for the play and Akanksha gave us the look that we needed to carry throughout.
The brilliant cast of the play. I am in the centre on a rocking chair.The person in blue, right behind me is Chandan Maheshwari, the woman on his right with the baby is Sonakshi Banerjee and on her right is Utkarsh Singh. The actor in white on extreme right is Soumya Tiwari and on her right is Anushree Moitra. The two men sitting at my feet are Vinay Sheel and Aman Shukla. The girl in orange is Sheetal Singh Tomar and the one with a huge smile and blue dress is Chandni.
This is a candid backtage shot of me and my daughter in law. In our final rehersal, we had messed up an entire scene. This image was taken right before our performance. Oh the terror on our faces! Thankfully, nothing went wrong in the play. We got a standing ovation. 😀
Perhaps the best part of a performance is always the preparation. I loved the entire journey of this play with the most talented team. We joked, laughed and chatted away most of the time but never allowed the level of our performance to go down. We were backed by the most hardworking back stage crew led by Himanshu Chaudhary and Vishal Sharma.
I am in my final year now. I do not know if I shall ever get a chance to act again in life or not. Here in India, amateur theatre outside academic institutions is almost nil and especially when it comes to theatre which caters to the needs of the working, well. That’s non existent.
I had once read somewhere that no matter how talented you may be, your talent is futile unless the society you are born into is ready to accept and hone your skills. Here I am in India, born with the talent of acting. The chances of me being able to turn amateur acting into professional one is virtually impossible because theatre as a profession in this country is locked from the inside, there is no entry unless you have resources. No wonder theatre in India is dying.
Anyway. I should get back to my law books.