Theatre Calling

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August 22nd, 2009 Abhilasha Ojha

Confession time: I didn’t want to come back to work after a two-week break. Did I head to an exotic destination? No. Did I manage to get all the house work done? No. In fact, my home needs a LOT of attention right now. Did I just chill? Yes and no.

I joined a theatre workshop for two weeks and kept up my grueling schedule much to the disappointment of my parents. My father was ecstatic when I told him that I was taking a two-week break and not going out of the city. “Great, so you’ll stay with us for some time?” When I informed him that the leave was actually for a 10-day theatre workshop (1.30-5.30 pm everyday) he didn’t say much.

I come from a family where, despite all the good intentions perhaps, my parents never encouraged me, beyond a point, to pursue creative activities. They were aware of my interests in singing, dancing, acting and writing but just didn’t have enough exposure themselves to tap various avenues to nurture my talent. As long as I was singing to relatives and participating in school competitions, it was okay. But a ‘career’ in singing was a firm NO. She might disagree today but I remember my mum actually stating that my horoscope clearly mentioned that a career in singing would result in “an enemy murdering me”. And, trust me, even though I laugh at the thought now, at that time – I was 13 years old — it was a scary feeling. So, if they didn’t want me to go to Mumbai (Bombay in those days) for college, I argued meekly but never fought back. If they said, singing and dancing is good as a hobby but no, you can’t think of it as a career, I thought they knew what was best for me. If they patted my back in front of others and said, “She’s a good girl. She always listens,” I was happy and content. In that sense, I lacked the drive to pursue my own dreams. I was scared of going against them.

A lot of people in the entertainment industry with whom I speak to today (in the line of duty) share similar stories, tell me about times they were regarded as outcasts, how parents always screamed and shouted at their “wastrel son” or the “stupid daughter who thinks she can be a star”. I remember speaking to actor Deepak Dobriyal and asking him if those times, those taunts, those accusations hurt? “Of course, I was very upset then. But I knew my goal very well.”

And that’s where I faltered completely. I never had any risk-taking abilities (I don’t, even today) and back in college days, instead of going to the music society (which, in my college, was also riddled with politics back then) I wanted to catch films, share all sorts of gossip and coffee with my friends. Today, I do regret wasting all that time in college. I had a fixed pocket money of Rs 1,000 in college days (this had to include my sojourns with friends, money to board buses and buy books) and silly as it sounds, it never occurred that I could ask my dad to give me more money to attend plays and concerts, stuff that I used to secretly circle in newspapers promising to watch all of those when I would start earning myself. For the record, summer job was another strict NO for me.

Anyway, the theatre workshop that I’d attended recently brought back a flood of memories of my childhood days, my earliest dreams and ambitions, the confidence with which I used to get up, look my teachers in the eye and say, “Ma’am, I want to be a singer when I grow up.”

The workshop, hosted by Actor Factor (a Delhi-based theatre company) and conducted by Shelli Koffman had a mixed age group (15 and above). Needless to say, I was the oldest in the batch and every time I walked into the hall where the sessions were being held, I gaped at the confidence of youngsters and their desire to do a summer job and use the money to enroll themselves in the workshop. I was amazed at parents who would walk into the hall and sit silently, observing their children, enquiring from them if they liked the activity. I felt secretly happy when 14-year-old Vani, a girl from DPS mentioned that her parents, having observed her at a school play, thought she was inclined towards acting and promptly got her to the workshop. It felt good to look at kids making mistakes at the final production on stage and still finding the confidence to look at the audience and laugh. As for myself; it simply felt good to be on stage after all these years.

I had a fun-filled and an enriching time at the workshop. For the past 10 days, my life has revolved around theatre and creative activities that I’ve always loved but never knew where to begin. For the past 10 days I’ve been a youngster all over again. Only this time, I was far more confident, happier and far more content.

PS: This post was written two months ago. Right now, I’m a part of an advanced acting workshop and working towards a production — 6 pm to 10 pm every day — and we’ve finalised a folktale from Bihar, just in case you’re interested in the details.

Clichéd as it may sound, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams despite your job, your home and other commitments. Ask yourself, is there any activity that you want to take up despite your hectic schedule? Share it with us on the blog.

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14 Responses to “Theatre Calling”

  1. Abhilasha Ojha Says:

    Sharanya: Thanks so much for your lovely response to the blog. Yes. I’m a clueless person by nature, I’m also very lazy (my brother and I often joke that we’ve inherited a ‘lazy’ gene from our parents. However, I often feel restless and at the age of 33 I’m quite sure that I want to act on stage. :) Let’s see… there’s never an end to these things! All the best for your dreams. I sincerely hope they come true. And, once again, thanks for your kind words.

  2. Sharanya Says:

    I read your blog recently and ended up reading all posts. You write really well. I have always been a clueless person with no particular career choice in mind. But I do have a list of ‘Things to do before I die’ which contains things like learning to play the guitar, sky diving to simple things like sleeping in a hammock. I’m no planner but hope I complete this ever growing list before my end.

  3. Abhilasha Ojha Says:

    Ashwini: Have fun in the dance classes and yes, do chase your dreams. It’s easier said than done but do that. Boman Irani became an actor at 44 but I’m sure he began working on the dream much, much earlier. :) Eventually, you need to make a choice. You need to take that risk. It’s never easy but if you believe in it, do so…
    BTW, a friend of mine gave me a great tip sometime ago. She said, “Take a break from your regular grind to follow your dreams for one year. By your next birthday, you should be gifting a fraction of your dream as a reality to yourself.” :) All the best!

  4. Ashwini Says:

    hey,
    I am at work, and i have started to read all you blogs from the past months. my comment comes a lot later than most of the above comments, but at a very good time. i watched 3 idiots last week, and loved it. this blog is about the same thing, follow your dreams, do what you enjoy and are happy doing. all this is easier said than done, for me. i am 26, still live with my parents. i wanted to be in sports and dance, all the time( i am really good at it), but my dad thought i should study, all the time. i hated it. i turned out to be bad at school, college and grad school. now i am stuck in a job i hate.
    what i want to do now is to join a dance class and play badminton. i love a challenge. my sister got to do all of it, and she truly is happier than me.
    look at this i sound so freakishly negative.
    i am signing up for dance classes this weekend. definitely.

  5. sushant Says:

    just to remind you. If you can please arrange for me a script ?

  6. BajiPrasad Says:

    Hi,

    i think im the last person to leave a comment.i read this blog exactly one month after its publication.

    first of all my heartfull thanks to abhilasha for writing a good article about dreams and aspirations. even im in a same stage of abhilasha and attending some of the film direction workshops in LFA. hi abhilasha if possible can you send me the script to bajiprasad@gmail.com.
    anyways gudluck for your dreams and soon ur dreams will come true.

  7. sushant Says:

    thanks a lot for your kind effort.
    eagerly waiting for the same .

    and plz do tell us about your final performance.
    how it was ? what was your raole ?

  8. Abhilasha Ojha Says:

    Sushant: I’ll try my best to get a copy of a script for you. I think I can manage it but it’ll take a little while-two weeks or so.
    Nosheen: Thanks sweetie. Remember how we used to dream and dream and dream when we were in school? :)

  9. sushant Says:

    hiii,
    i can understand your emotions on joining this workshop & fulfilling your long cherished dream.

    Its really wonderful and i can feel it as well.

    well I have also a dream to write script for a movie while continuing with my job. I have a lot of ideas , what I require is a complete script of any good hindi movie so that i can understand the basic format. can you please help me since you cover entertainment sector.

    It will be really helpful for me if you can please send me the one good script of any hindi movie.

    my e mail id is sph.dhn@gmail.com

  10. Nosheen Nadiadwala Says:

    Dear Abhi,
    Really nice to read your blog. When we are younger we dont realise how important our dreams are…its only as we grow older and wiser do we want to fulfill our dreams. I am so glad ur finally able to live ur life on ur terms. Well done…and I do hope u get to pursue your dreams!!!
    Take care

  11. Abhilasha Ojha Says:

    Manish: Thanks for the encouraging words. I’m so glad you read our articles with so much care. Incidentally, this workshop will stage a final production on August 30, 2009 at Lok Kala Manch in Lodhi Road sometime in the evening. I don’t have much of a role to be honest but it has been a good feeling. Thankfully, my family is very encouraging and I think that’s one reason why pursuing — and nurturing — dreams can be a beautiful reality.

  12. Manish Says:

    I read your write-ups in BS regularly and am quite happy that finally you are pursuing something that you have some passion for. All the best to you, in case you work in any play in future do mention about it on this space!

  13. Abhilasha Ojha Says:

    P C Madhavarao: Thanks for your encouraging comment. I do hope you’re engaged in other activities besides your regular work schedule. Do share details if you wish.

  14. p c madhavarao Says:

    kudos to abhilasha ojha for writing an excellent piece on suggesting ways and means of refining the hidden talent in oneself.
    the blog incidentally reflects my views about pursuing our dreams irrespective of time and place.
    i am happy to find such achievers on the net.
    thanks to the bs for encouraging in publishing their work.

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