Saturday, October 31, 2009

First Performance, 'Real' Audience

After a single run-through in the afternoon sun behind the canteen, we gabbled once and set off on foot to the Rajkiya Sarvodya BAl Vidyalya, Block-27, Trilokpuri.
As we entered the school, we were quite apprehensive esp. for the girls, it being a सरकारी (govt)boys' school.

Thankfully, we were safely escorted to a computer lab, which was supposed to be a 'green room'. Anyways, on our way to the room, we were hooted and the girls catcalled by rowdy boys. And then we shut ourselves up in the room, while the teachers and the boy scouts readied the ground and children for our performance.
Since nukkad natak requires no green room, the lab looked more like a saftey bunker for us.It was a dark, dingy room with just fans and no lights working. It being evening, the sky outside was turning a bit dark and the eagerness to perform showed on all faces. Some were a bit shaken by their earlier encounter with the crowd. Others wanted to just perform and leave ASAP. The more daring ones desperately waited to perform in front of such a big and ahem...relatively unpolished crowd. Except Srishti Kumar, who lay in a corner as if she'd already performed, all of us were excited. No one had or has any idea why.
Adi, Adil, Vishal(with a new 3.2 mp phone) and I kept clicking photos with our flashes on.
There was a loud bang on the metal door. Some one answered. It was time to perform.


We went down a flight of stairs and looked at the eager two-three hundred-strong crowd. The students had already left a narrow path and a circle for us to perform on their cemented assembly ground, surrounded on three sides by the classroom buildings. Four of us went ahead of others to talk to the crowd and warm up a bit.
There were 43 of us performing that day. And it was quite a site as 43 white-kurta clad Anantians shouted 'aiye aiye, natak dekhiye' with dholak and dafli beats in the background. Then we all settled in a circle in the space reserved. The white kurtas blended well with the white shirts of the school boys, and yet the white of the kurtas stood out, radiating an altogether different aura. The emotive faces of the circle, our link with the audience, highlighting the mood of the scene within, seemed to be on a mid-plane. They were a part of the scene, and the crowd as well. Their expressions were the message and the messengers as well. Or maybe I'm just biased. (But it's less probable as I stood with a few others who were also not performing, on a raised platform watching all this.)

As the play went on, we realized, this was the type of audience encountered never before. Real audience. The crowd made a lot of noise, especially the elder students, who were locked away on the first floor. But then hundreds of students even breathing heavily would sound like chaos. Nevertheless, instinctively all the performers delivered dialogues, expressions and songs as loud as they could, and obviously it worked. None of us had been so loud while practicing. It was the magic of the stage and the audience after all.

Our real audience seemed to have enjoyed the play quite well. When VP(Vishnupriya) asked the audience for help, a no. of boys on the first floor were ready to jump to her rescue. Before that, the fight over propertybetween brothers Vishal and Siddhant, and the former's consequent death seemed to awe the audience. They simply loved the little dose of violence. Rajat, the dying father's interaction with his greedy offsprings, esp. the high-pitch voiced, melodramatic daughter Jayati tickled the school goers and teachers as well. In the first scene, Pawas as the talented but penniless Eklavya and the 'ooh-aah' ing girls were an instant hit. In the interaction between Ajay-Vijay and Maan, it was the cute little mother Indu's hilarious, well-timed 'छी' at virtue and morals stole the show. And towards the end, Saahil as the never-satisfied money-demanding wife of the future drew catcalls and whistles from the audience, esp. from the 'balcony' seats.

The audience's reaction was quite gratifying, but a bigger reward awaited as a discussion with the audience unfolded. The students put up such intelligent and thought-proving questions, which left even their teachers surprised, and most of us speechless, Yatin and Avinash included. We hadn't expected our play to leave such an impact, that we'd have to stop the flow of queries because of lack of time. During this whole QnA session, Debanshu served as the mic for the students who wanted to ask questions. Sure their minds were quite open, but their vocal chords weren't. (Yeah, yeah...all Anantians may pat their backs and swell their chests with pride)

And then it was time to leave. The sky was a deep blue-black by the time we rushed out of the school and reached the college park, behind canteen. Some hurried to their cozy nests. After all, all Anantians' parents aren't as accommodating, nor all Anantians argue well at home grounds. Anyways, the most of survivors danced like drunkards while Debu and then Chandrashekhar and Ashu played the Dholak. Others lay in the grass, equally drunk. We, then, proceeded to the good-old chaiwala to come back to senses; and laugh and cry and pat each others' backs and call each other names and hug each other like long-lost brothers. One could feel the common force that bonds us, and it was so visible at that time that acknowledging or saying it then would have been insulting. It was, it is and always will be :ANANT.

जय अनंत!!

PS : That day for many of us it was a first step , and a new step for all of us.

The Last Days of October...

Half of this month was eaten up by the liberal vacations sysytem of DU, which all students cherish, except Anantians, as this means more than two weeks away from Anant. No acting, no sessions, no masti, no life. And this time with Diwali and Bhaiya Dooj, our break extended till 20th.

But this last week of October has been particularly good for us. After coming back from holis, we rehearsed our play 'Sabse Bada Rupaiya', which we had made before the break. By 22nd, we'd not only brushed the dust from this नाटक on the ills of money, but also edited it and polished it.
On 23rd we performed SBR at the राजकीय सर्वोदय बाल विद्याला (Rajkiya Sarvodya Bal Vidyalya) trilokpuri, through contacts at the erstwhile school of our 'chachha' Ashwini.
And on 24th Gaurav bhaiya visited. (This is another treat only Anantians can have and enjoy).
Finally, today on the last day of October, the 31st, we are going to perform SBR again, at another school, Kendriya Vidyalya, near Karkardooma. Coutresy this time: our dear Katta, Avinash.


Read in detail about these events in subsequent posts.


Welcome World!!!

Fellow Anantians , today we introduce our very own family, our theatre group ANANT, to the web(and obviously the world). It is hard to explain to the world, what being an Anantian actually means, and feels like. It's as if only a mother can know what it feels like to be one. Only a precious gem can know what it feels like- just that it's too modest about itself- and most of us are, of course excluding the author.

If Anant were a lady, it would be giving birth to brilliant sons and daughters. If Anant were a machine, it would be churning out the most efficient products ever. Consider Anant as a painter, and you would have great, timeless master-pieces: in all colours and styles. If you see Anant as a teacher, then its students would turn out to be geniuses in their own right, coming back to the Alma mater every now and then. And a teacher that does not forge, but helps one find the genius within. If Anant were a poem, it would be soothing to the ear and soul, full of meaning. Thinking of Anant as a phenomenon, it would surely change lives. And if Anant were an emotion, it would be deep and strong, lingering on forever.

Anant is not one of the above, yet it is all of the above and more. Much more.
A seed sown by Gaurav bhaiya in 1998, Anant today is not just a huge tree, but a full-fledged garden, with all sorts of greens and colourful flowers and juicy fruits. Presently in its 11th year, Anant has about 50 members in the current batch, with some two hundred Anantians, who reluctantly graduated( not referring to their courses obviously). As we proudly say: 'Once an Anantian, always an Anantian .'

Another thing that we always say and believe(and new Anantians discover after a while), is that you shall get more from Anant, than you can ever give. The 'more' you give, the 'even more' you get.

Like one can never fully repay parents who have given life, one can never repay Anant which gives meaning(to life).

अनंत जिंदाबाद!!

-Saarthak(Anantian since 2008)

"For groups may come and groups may go, Anant goes on forever..."

P.S: Officialy, we are known as 'Abhinay', the dram soc of Delhi University's Maharaja Agrasen College.