“I owe a lot to my Gu­jarati roots,” says ac­tor Shar­man Joshi.


The best thing about my life as an artist has been my roots. I hail from Patan, an an­cient town in Gu­jarat, and that her­itage re­mains with me. My grand­fa­ther moved to Mum­bai decades ago and we were brought up in an open, pro­gres­sive and lib­eral en­vi­ron­ment. Back then my fa­ther Arvind Joshi went against my grand­fa­thers will to ven­ture into the­atre. As a child I trav­elled across Gu­jarat with him, from Jam­na­gar, Bar­oda, Ahmed­abad to Ra­jkot and Bhav­na­gar. That was the time when Gu­jarati the­atre was at its peak and a lot of good work was hap­pen­ing, not just in Mum­bai but also in Gu­jarat. Watch­ing my dad on stage gave me a thrill. In no time, I found my­self per­form­ing and emot­ing just like him. But I was still an am­a­teur the­atre ac­tor dur­ing col­lege days. It be­came a full-fledged pro­fes­sion for me much later and I con­tin­ued act­ing in Gu­jarati the­atre for close to eight years. I have acted at Thako­reb­hai De­sai Hall at Law Gar­den ex­ten­sively, lived at the Gymkhana club for months on end, even rented bun­ga­lows for the en­tire crew. My most mem­o­rable role was that of the deaf char­ac­ter in the Gu­jarati ver­sion of the play, All The Best. It was a crowd puller at that time. To­day, what­ever I am it is be­cause of my strong Gu­jarati the­atre back­ground. I am sure, had my grand­fa­ther been alive to­day, he would have been very proud of what we have achieved.

I give a lot of credit to my Gu­jarati roots for the pu­rity in my art. I feel in Gu­jarati cul­ture, chil­dren are taught the im­por­tance of tehzeeb, prob­a­bly a bit more than I have no­ticed in other cul­tures. Stress is given on


re­spect­ing your el­ders and the im­por­tance of their pres­ence in your lives. Apart from this as­pect, Gu­jarati peo­ple are pas­sion­ate about their fes­ti­vals. I re­mem­ber once dur­ing a visit to Ahmed­abad we went to Kha­dia dur­ing Ut­tarayan. There was a huge kite mar­ket where my fa­ther bought piles of kites and phirkis and went to the ter­race of a friends place. Al­though I was the scape­goat hold­ing the phirki all the time, it was fun to watch the joy this fes­ti­val brought along. Also, as a Gu­jarati, I don’t think our per­son­al­ity is com­plete with­out food. And my love for Gu­jarati cui­sine is in­tact be­cause of my mother’s cook­ing.

Shar­man Joshi is an ac­tor. As told to De­vika Chaturvedi

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