My world changed in 1997 when I gave an interview to be the secretary to Dr. Vijaya Mehta, the director of NCPA at the time. I walked in for a job interview at NCPA without knowing anything about the world it resided in. Zero knowledge on performance or plays or the arts or anything that they did in general.
I was in the middle of my interview when suddenly Dr. Vijaya Mehta walked in. My interviewer mentioned to her that I am one of the applicants. She struck up a conversation with me right there, first explaining what she did and then asking me about myself. The connection was instant – you know one of those moments when something just feels right. Our conversation ended with Dr. Vijaya Mehta asking the interviewer to tell me my pay package!
Every day at NCPA was a new day and with it came a hundred new learnings. In my initial years NCPA was a venue for hire, so I couldn’t really observe all the artists that performed there. I gained hands on experience only when I was promoted to a program officer. This is also the time when I got completely enamoured with the arts. I had turned into a sponge, just soaking in all the culture around me. I would watch anything and everything and almost always more than once.
I hold a sweet spot for all theatrical performances. The process of setting up for a play fascinates me. If I could I would spend my entire day watching the crew put up the set, focus the lights, adjust the sound and do technical run throughs. In fact, I never shy away from being an audience. I have watched the same performances more than 20 times. It usually comes to a point where I know if the actors have missed a line or a set piece or prop is out of place. All the artists I have had the luck to meet and to befriend would agree to how much of a theatre fanatic I am. I am actually sad that the audience that walks in, never sees the amount of work that is put in at the backend. But truly, watching a play is an otherworldly experience. I will never tire of it.
I can’t play favourites, but if I had to pick a memorable episode in my journey, it would be when I was involved as crew for the play Purush. Dr. Vijaya Mehta was in charge and her meticulous way of working made it a unique experience – right from auditions to the final day. I will always be grateful that our paths crossed.
I had started working from an early age. I worked at an eye doctor’s clinic for seven years. Then I was a teacher at Davar’s college for a while before I came across NCPA. I was introduced to the arts when I was 32 years old and have stayed in the field for 24 years. But that’s just it right? No matter what your age, your gender or where you are from, the arts just sweep you off your feet and pull you in with an intention of never letting go.