Leaning against the chair, I closed my eyes. Video was uploaded on YouTube. “I will be sharing the link with my friends, checking the views and going through the comments in a while” things you do when you have a YouTube channel. But before I do all these, in the company of my hot cup of coffee, I was replaying the latest interview I took, the interview of Neeraj Kabi.
You may know him as Sanjeev Mehra of PaatalLok or DCP Parulekar of Sacred Games. But I wanted to know the Neeraj Kabi who is a theatre artist ,the founder of Pravah Theatre.I got his contact via general enquiry through his theatre group. With slight trepidation I called him and requested for an interview for my YouTube program “IndraDhanush ke Rang”. Thankfully, he said yes. Little did I know this interview will leave such an impression on my life.His story was not on any inspiration to actors or theatre artists, but also to people from every walk of life.
Many a times we feel that we didn’t receive proper training in a particular skill or no one was there to teach us, so we could not excel in that area. Or we just confine ourselves to a particular skillset and we stop learning after a while. But when I asked Neeraj ,in his acting career which method he follows for enhancing his performances, his reply was a revelation – “I am a self taught actor”, he replied.”I don’t restrict myself to some techniques. I don’t follow anyone method. Down the years, I have invented and followed my own method.”
Sharing his experience of adapting Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Indian niche audience, he stumped me with his and his crew’s dedication. Waking up at early morning hours for rehearsals, experimenting with dhrupad music and yakshagana dance form and incorporating them into a Shakespeare play, going out of confines of rehearsals halls and practicing in a “Maidan” (in Mumbai Rains) ..they did it all not for few days but for whole one year. With the thought that as an actor ,your audience is everybody, not only people who are educated or can hear and see properly ,they challenged themselves as they performed Infront of children of Hellen Keller organization who are visually and hearing challenged.
While all these tales kept me captivated ,it was the last question which left me awestruck .One of the viewers asked him ,”For actors, especially struggling ones, how important is it to be professionally experienced in other departments like editing , screenplaying etc.?”
Neeraj – “It is been my journey as well. When I started, I never started as actor. After several auditions I got a break in 1997, after 7 years, my first film-which was an Oriya feature film. I was 29 years old. I thought this was it, my moment.
But after that for 14 years, I had no work. (WHAT!!!!!!).I went on auditioning ,but nobody called me. So in effect 21 years went away and then I started getting work. But my struggle years are my strength – Ye Mera Guroor Hai (This is my pride).I can’t discuss everything but all those years I did many things to get experience of life. I worked in many departments to make a living.”
Many a times we give up on our passion, our calling after few years of struggle. Society, family responsibilities and many more hurdles stop us .We start questioning ourselves: ”Are we even meant to do this?”. “Is it worth all these troubles?”. Well I leave the answer to you, but from the conversation mentioned above ,I can only say that “there is always lull before a boom.”
Total Work Experience : 6 Years(Infosys)