On World Theatre Day actors Richa Chadha, Pankaj Tripathi and Gulshan Devaiah recollect fond memories from their theatre days
Actors talk about the life-changing moments they have encountered on stage
For a few Bollywood actors who come with a theatre background, the World Theatre Day that's celebrated on March 27, evokes memories of the stage and rehearsals. Four actors who have made a mark in recent times recollect memories and share what's special about theatre to them.
I remember my first play was when I was in the 11th grade I was cast in a professional play with some actors from the National School of Drama (NSD) repertory. It was not my first experience on stage but I guess it was the first professional one. The play was titled Aur Kitne Tukde and it was a Hindi play directed by Dr Kirti Jain. I was cast as an extra which worked well for me because I got to observe amazing actors from the NSD at close quarters and got to learn from them. Also, I had braces and it was a period play and it was better to get less attention.
My first play was Leela Nandlal Ki story by Bhishm Sahani and the director was Vijay Kumar, an alumnus of National School of Drama. The story was about a scooter that gets lost and the protagonist goes to the police station to make a complaint. I was playing both the characters - the of the cop and a thief. It was my first play and for the first time, I performed in front of Patna audiences. To my pleasant surprise, they all liked both my roles even though I felt I was not a great performer at that time. I was not trained in diction and delivery but I performed with an open heart.
I was five years old when I saw my mother as an actor on stage. She used to be a fine actor and I used to travel with her wherever she performed. My first role was in a Malayalam play. My mother and I had to just walk past look at this person who is making a rangoli on the floor and appreciate it. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing but I was over the moon that I was on stage. I have a clear memory of that play - I remember wearing a blue checked shirt and blue shorts with elastic and my mom was wearing a chiffon saree. This was during 1982-83. The first time I professionally acted in a play was in 2007 in Bengaluru when I acted in Kurukshetra Burning, an English play. My father had come to see the play, he was in the audience. Everybody responded to my performance well and that was a great feeling. That's when I decided to shift to Mumbai and pursue my dreams. It was never my dream to be a theatre actor but I learnt a lot from theatre. Theatre is my teacher.
I was rejected at FTII and came back to Hyderabad dejected and broken. That's when I enrolled in a theatre group called Sutradhar and did a four-month workshop that concluded with a play. I went late for rehearsal one day and I was thrown out of the play even after working so hard. So I worked backstage during that play. Then after the group realised that I was disciplined and committed I got a part in the next play - Kisi Aur Ka Sapna. This was my first play as an actor on stage. It was the most exhilarating moment of my life when I went up first time on a dark stage with just a spotlight. But I had to work a lot in the dark first to be in that spotlight. Theatre trains you in dealing with darkness and finding yourself. I am eternally thankful to the stage and my teacher.