Performing on stage has been an integral part of my formative years. From the time when I was a toddler pushed up on stage, to now when I yearn to be on it….the journey has been great. With all sorts of performances ranging from fancy dress competitions, dancing, acting, elocution and even singing in choirs, I am grateful to have been able to do it all. I vividly remember my ‘debut’ on stage and thankfully instead of a flush of embarrassment I can now laugh at it. I must be no more than four years old and, according to my mother, mimicked the sound of a puppy very well. So with all due encouragement and claps I was called on stage to perform my act. With knees knocking and toes curled up, a sob here and ‘bow-wow’ there, I can safely say, nobody would have expected me to come back ever again!
But there I was again the following year, thanks to mommy dearest and her enthusiasm, dancing in a ghagra (with sports shoes!!) to some Rajasthani song. There followed a series of fancy dresses where I became everything from a mermaid to a cactus; danced with dandias in hand to diyas the following year…all with great shyness. All this was during the cultural activities of our community. The school concerts weren’t doing much to boost my confidence either. I must thank my teachers, first of all, for giving me opportunities time and again, but there was nothing to be done for my mouse-like voice and skinny frame.
After a fair amount of playing housewife and other miscellaneous roles, by the time I reached high school I actually began enjoying the stage experience. By then I had done a few elocutions, won a few—and lost some, gone for camps and adventure activities got myself noticed in sports… all in all, my stage fright had begun receding.
I liked it and the audience wasn’t exactly booing me off-stage either. The best part of stage performance is all the days leading up to it. The practices, rehearsals, dress rehearsals and of course, the fun and games!
After passing out of school, the best was yet to come. By a freak chance of fate I landed an amazing role of a dumb secretary in Mr. Vikash Khurana’s play. Most of Nagpur knows him and vice versa. He happens to be a family friend and thus I came in contact with ‘Stagecraft Productions’. He instilled enough faith in me to perform the role [reason also being that at that time he couldn’t find anyone else!] and taught me the finer nuances of stage dramatics.
The exposure I received due to this opportunity was new for me and felt great. The exhilaration of performing and the high one gets out of it in the end is a mixed feeling of happiness and despair. Happiness, because it went well; and despair, because the fun would soon end. Until of course the next script came in hand. And yes, a couple of more scripts did come in hand after that, and it was a wonderful thing to mingle with so many like-minded people, some of whom have become dear friends now. And I won’t be coy about the fact that it thrills me to see my name and occasionally picture in the newspaper the next day! But I’ll admit, I still don’t feel all that confident about taking things up as such and nor am I comfortable with the idea of taking over the mike and compeering. Hopefully one day I will!
I personally feel that stage dramatics is a great interest to nurture but very difficult to initiate and produce. Hats off to Mr. Vikash Khurana for his unending enthusiasm towards the art. Nagpur drama is yet to come of age but we are on our way towards it. Perhaps one day it will come up with something that will make the city proud; and I sure hope I am a part of it!
Side note- I am now married and settled in Hyderabad caring for my twin boys. But this article was written in 2004 and I can safely say my hopes have been realized with Stagecraft Productions and V. Khurana going great guns…. So proud!