The Stage and the Third Bell…part 1

          The “stage & the third bell”… for me is akin to…A “heart & the heart beats”!!! Yes! My theatre life… so dear to me; I have always believed that if the celluloid has been my love, then the stage has been my passion.  As in the words of Shakespeare…world is a stage, where each one takes an entry & an exit, playing their respective parts… I too had my share of playing different roles, inexhaustibly making entries & taking exits… in the personal drama of life & the playacting of the theatre!

As an adolescent…(at Chandigarh)… when I had finally joined my creative Dad, after a prolonged, uncalled-for separation; least was I aware that I was being steered by the call of my destiny, and… the arena, the spotlight, the mask, the applause, the renown…was awaiting my arrival. Hence, my Jesus manoeuvred me & my Dad groomed me!

Dad made it quite apparent to me that an individual has two distinct sides of the personality…the personal aura & the professional enigma…like the two sides of a coin, which belong to the same physical structure, yet carry an unconnected substance. It was quite difficult for me to conform to it, as I was always a brutally straightforward person, die-hard candid in my approach, attitude n attribute. It took me years to imbibe! Partially I learnt…partially the ruthless world taught me!!!

Personally, Dad indulged in pampering me to the hilt, yielding to every demand of mine; yet, he also kept moulding me tactfully towards a standard of perfection. Nevertheless, on the professional front…he strictly imposed certain rules over me…over the years.

Rule 1:  Academic qualification was essential, to complete graduation, however busy with work…therefore; I have worked & studied simultaneously.

2: Never to mix the personal & professional aspects, they are entirely two different worlds, one should leave the problems at home, as it should not be visible on the countenance of an actor.

3:  Always to be punctual, dot on time… to give no one the place or space for any cross-question.

4: To be an utter professional & command the due respect, it would surely be apprehended by all.

5: To value and safeguard dignity, self-esteem and honour, always. Allow no one to take you for granted.

6: To give perfection-oriented performances & dialogue delivery, to be versatile, & to hold a command on language n diction.

7: Never to ask for work…as it lowers the charisma… It’s a fact, that having done so much work over the years, that too, all the lead n title roles; I have  only worked on offers that came my way,  have never asked for work. Rather, I have been famous for saying “No” to umpteenth offers, than a “Yes”!!!

8: Never “compromise” for success…it’s a wrong notion when people think that they can reach success by the unscrupulous short-cuts, rather they reach no-where, even if they manage to…its short-lived.

9: Never cry or get disheartened if someone else is considered or finalized in your place… since… it is not your loss…but the loss is theirs!!! As they know not what they have missed. Moreover, people who come with an offer do not come to favour you; they come according to their convenience… yes, I strongly believe in so!

10:” Do not cry over spilled milk”…learn from past mistakes & move ahead with double the energy n strength.

You see… along with the 10 commandments of my “Heavenly Father”… I also was groping to adhere to the 10 commandments of my “Earthly Father’.

Until then, the only experience of stage for me was some school dramas, wherein, the roles that I had enacted were highly appreciated by my teachers. They would compliment me by saying that I had acted it out so typically of the character! So much so, that my report cards were full of compliments for my acting skills, than my academic capabilities. Will you believe…I was too young then to realize the authenticity behind the adulations…I just grasped the emotion behind the appraisal & felt blushingly flattered…shot back my most famous dimpled n enchanting smiles, much to the awe of the others…though I remained quite unaware of its impact!!!

SHIRIN FARHAAD: My strikingly distinguished looks, personality, aura n beauty had fetched me the role of “shirin”. Much to the dismay of the graduating seniors, who had vied for the role! This had taken place at the private school, wherein I was admitted, for the boards of class 9 n 10. Their fury triggered due to the lead role handed over to a “teenybopper”. This “ballet” was an, inter-collegiate presentation, but performed on professional grounds, at “Tagore Theatre”… & witnessed by the elite & the dignitaries of Chandigarh.

Shirin FarhaadShirin Farhaad

     This was the beauty of Chandigarh…besides being a well-planned town & flaunting its scenic value…the students of the town dominated. All was a serious business…be it… the demands of students, their marches n strikes, etc. etc; the elected college n university candidates were as good as political representatives.  I received a trophy for the ballet, but what really mattered was that I managed to impress Dad. He discerned my capacity n range! 

           Seema Kapoor 

       AARAAM HARAAM HAI… the first professional play of my life that came knocking on my door! Colonel Gupte… was a sought-after director of theatre, he approached me for a young girl’s role; it was a major opportunity for me to begin in his guidance, hence I accepted the role…I was 13 years old then. It was a learning n training process for me. Being a convent student n hailing from Calcutta…my “hindi” was atrocious. I used to speak like…”Noodi pictude” (Noorie picture) me jo “hedo”(hero) tha , “Fadukh”(Farukh) sheikh, woh “bare- bare”(Bade-bade) pero(pedo) ke peeche bhaag raha tha….gosh …my R n D in hindi was totally haywire (Bengali-background).

                                       AARAAM HARAAM HAI         Untitled 9

    Mr. Gupte…fortunately/unfortunately… not once had to check me, as my Dad would already be on his toes to rectify my flaws. With practice, I started learning n improving. Was introduced to rehearsals, theatre discipline, make-up, movements, marks, cues etc. etc. & I was imbibing all very naturally n inherently.

       Finally shows arrived, my performance was highly appreciated in spite of the two blunders that I made…for “daal-chaaval” (my Bengali background showed up) & I said…”Chaal-daaval”, which I still say most of the times!!! The other mistake was…I had to cry n say in hindi… “It’s better to die than to live like this”. I cried to the hilt… but said… “It’s better to live than to die like this”. Nevertheless, my performance was so honest to the scene; the audience kept cheering, encouraging n applauding me. The response was so much in my favour during n after the show that a senior actor in that play got out rightly insecure of me. She was no other than my so-called second mother, future director & mentor…Ma’am Sangeeta Mehta. One of my forth-coming posts is going to be on her.

However, she was a very sought-after theatre actor, so right after a couple of shows; she tried to force Mr. Gupte to oust me from the play. Colonel Gupte was not a man to compromise on anyone’s demands n conditions, especially when it was wrongful, as he had witnessed the super response I had received. He refused to play dirty with an innocent soul, but due to her tantrums… he took a wise decision… he replaced us BOTH!!!

Such was my beginning…no sooner I laid my foot, I had to taste the “cup of poison”, which I guess is mandatory to sip, along with the “cup of success”. A first page, to a new chapter…  of another “lesson”… unfolded itself to me.

I was shocked n sank in my dad’s arms. The depth of my trauma didn’t escape him, yet he caught me n made me stand straight, looked deep in my  swollen red-eyes n said ..“ you trust me? Then do not cry, rather gather & gear yourself from now on, as I promise you that I will avenge your plight. I will write such a wonderful play for you that no one must have witnessed or heard of such work, & you have to prepare yourself for such a forth-coming challenge, rather than brood over someone’s mis-doing. You have to learn to stand strong right in the midst of your enemies.” I stared at him amazed…such a dynamic father!!!

I never saw him taking a breather after that… my “dynamite heavenly father” & my “dynamic earthly father”… moved in unison to write my success story, to offer me the “cup of fame” & revert the “cup of poison” to my detractors. I actually witnessed God’s glory working on Dad & his awesome work…my next play…”ki Dosh Si Loona Da” ( what  was the fault of Loona)….hence…banged into existence!!!

To be continued……


1 Comment

  1. I am mesmerized after going through the lines mentioned above. I wonder whether it is the 1st bell and 2nd with 3rd bell yet to come.Life is like that and u have to withstand everything boldly .

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