Saturday, August 8, 2009

Prithvi Theatre's Dhamaal: An Unforgettable Experience

by Dipty Gharat

Today, after almost 4 years of being in the industry, I still feel butterflies in my stomach. I remember the day when I had gone along with my sister at Prithvi theatre. My sister was harassing me from many months and I finally decided to consent. Aishwarya, my younger sister, was keen on getting in the film industry. Although, I had almost sidelined the ambition, aishi had not given it up at all. Even while she was studying journalism, the thought never went off her mind.

My career was taking a different direction and there was a desperate need to be contented. However, my crest fallen face never followed my brain's commands. Finally, my face regained it's old charm after I read about "Dhamaal" in Prithvi Theater's booklet. Dhamaal was an open forum meant for anyone who had acting, dancing, musical talent. The theme that year was "William Shakespeare". I told Aishwarya about this brilliant opportunity to display our talent. She was of course, overjoyed. All throughout the way we were thinking about a good idea for the play. It had to be something different, entertaining, unique and fun to hold the interest of the audience. Aishi, was thinking about the modern day version of “A Midsummer's Night Dream”. But since, I had given just our names; I was reluctant to involve anyone else.

I didn't want to lose this opportunity by missing out on any rules or guidelines. Therefore, I told her about the constraints. She consented and after having a nice afternoon nap; I woke up with an amazing idea of "Shakespeare meets Eliza Dolittle". I had seen Aishi portray Eliza Dolittle's character with absolute finesse at home. She had immediately fallen in love with My Fair Lady after watching it on DVD and had also downloaded an e-book of Pygmalion.

I narrated this idea to Aishi, she immediately agreed as she was eager to play Eliza in front of the Prithvi theatre audience. So, the responsibility was upon me now to write a captivating script for cracking the audition. I, was, of course going to play Shakespeare. Thus, the process began. It involved doing a lot of research and polishing my sense of humour. In the evening, I went out for shopping with my sister and after a tiresome search involving lots of bargaining we got what we wanted. This all had to be done in a day since, the audition was on the next evening.

We practiced till 3.30 pm at home and then left for Prithvi. There two prominent theatre actors and the Creative Head of Prithvi Theatre, Hidayat Sami took our audition. It was awesome and we received generous praises. "You don't look nervous at all, there is no hint of being a new comer, and you’ll look professional and perfect" this was the compliment given to us by one of the judges. It brought tears in our eyes. It seemed that we had found an oasis in the long dreadful desert. We were asked to watch one show of Dhamaal on the forthcoming Monday. We went home jumping and hopping with excitement.

We watched Dhamaal on Monday and even decided our stage entries. It was spectacular. I remembered it today because those were the Ganpati festival days. Ganpati festival was fast approaching and amidst all those preparations we were practicing our play. We knew Bappa was with us and for the final audition that happened on the third day of Ganpati festival the wishes were granted. We cracked and conquered it. Our victorious smiles brought even more excitement to the festival. Bappa shared a similar smile with us. He had given us the rakhi gift. Our performance was actually scheduled on the Gauri visarjan day but upon our request was postponed on the following Monday.

Our performance received a splendid response. Shashi(Kapoor) uncle exchanged a bright and brimming smile with us. He had watched our performance with utmost attention and was generously laughing at every humourous remark.

The day, the appraisal, the appreciation is still vivid in my eyes. It looks like yesterday. After this splendid performance, my film career began with a big bang. It was of course beginner’s luck. The testing times are still on. After Dhamaal, I got many other opportunities to perform at Prithvi. But the sense of achievement that our first performance gave remains unsurpassed. I think because it denoted a real life example of the famous words from Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist"; "when you want something, entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it".