CHANDIGARH’S STORYTELLERS TAKE CENTRE STAGE AT FEST
Most of the local artistes don’t have a degree in dramatics. It’s mere passion they share
Every artiste has his own tale, a part of which he tells with every performance. The tales lead up to the stage to make one story.
Like for Balochan Malik it was a packet of biscuits that drew him towards theatre 12 years ago. A social worker, Malik says, “Theatre has a way for everyone. When I went to Kalagram to learn acting in return for a biscuit, I didn’t know how it would shape my life. Today, whatever I have become is because of theatre.”
The five-day Tricity Theatre Festival organised by the department of cultural affairs ended at Tagore Theatre on Friday. The ticketed shows for the plays of local theatre groups turned out to be a source of encouragement for the artistes.
What makes these tricity theatre groups unique is their connect with locals. Not all members of these groups are full-time theatre artistes. Most of them don’t even have a degree in dramatics. It’s mere passion driving these artistes, says the founder of Theatre Arts Chandigarh group Rajiv Mehta, an accountant by profession. From a Class-12 student to a retired bank employee, youth fest participants to a housewife, established artistes to budding talent, every person cutting across age groups performed in the festival. Sukhwinder Kaur, a housewife and a mother of two, says nobody in her family likes that she does theatre, not even her husband.
“But it is my obsession. I fall sick if I am not doing this.” While some professional artistes believe that theatre can help them earn a livelihood, Asha Saklani, a theatre artiste for 20 years, says more than a profession, theatre has been a way of life, a therapy for her. “It was initially a fight against my parents to join theatre but after that it became a way to express myself,” she says. Some become part of theatre by coincidence such as Munish Kapoor who was spotted by a director at a party and got invited to Sector 26 for practice in 1998. “I was awaiting results of government exams but then one day I went for theatre practice and before I knew it, it became my profession,” says Munish, who started Drishti Theatre Club in 2003. There are some for whom theatre runs in the family. Gaurav Sharma, who is doing theatre since 1997, says his father and brother were into theatre and now even his sister, Anjali, is a part of it. From direction, acting to makeup and lights, Gaurav does it all.
Indian culture is such that it itself introduces one to the stage because for many artistes the journey starts from participating in Ram Leela and so was the case for Rajat and Sandeep from the play Holi.
As young local artistes see a scope in theatre as a profession with universities and schools making it a subject, for Alka and Balochan who perform in rural areas as part of awareness campaigns, it will remain an important way to convey information to society.
Artistes performing Bhagat Singh Ki Kahani Durga Bhabhi Ki Zubani during the five-day Tricity Theatre Festival, which concluded at Tagore Theatre, on Friday. KESHAV SINGH/HT