“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
MY MOST MEMORABLE ROLE WAS THAT OF THE DEAF CHARACER IN A GUJARATI PLAY
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