I truly believe that my life has been shaped by a series of what I call happy accidents. While I was a student at St. Xavier’s, I just happened to come across an audition call on the notice board for a play for the English Department and decided to go for it. I ended up landing a small role, but the process became a big part of my life. Right from the first rehearsal, I knew theatre was something that made complete sense to me.
The best kind of training that anyone could receive is by immersing themselves in the entire world of theatre. One must dabble consistently in every aspect of it – sound, lights, backstage – until your natural instinct for one takes over. 1998 to 2001 were my years of complete immersion. My university of experience. I started off as just an actor, but went on to do stage management for a play by Pearl Padamsee, ended up doing sound for another show and even did lights for a piece at Thespo. It was at the end of those four years that I felt I had experienced enough to give directing a try and made my directorial debut with The Shadow Box.
The other happy accident was getting introduced to the radio which also became a large part of my life. I was fresh out of college and work was something a fresher just had to do. One of my friends happened to call me up and connected me to a person involved with an upcoming radio station. That’s it. That’s how I got involved with the radio. My association with Audio Drama also began around then, when we (the industrial theatre co.) line-produced the BBC’s award-winning radio drama rendition of A Suitable Boy which was recorded on location in India. Happily, I’ve been producing Audio Drama ever since and it’s something I enjoy just as much, 20 years later.
As I worked, both in theatre and radio, my way of approaching what I do slowly crystallized into this – you devote yourself completely to whatever you are doing and hopefully the results will surprise even you. A recent project, Sing India Sing was a culmination of that school of thought. It was only at our third run, that I was able to just watch the show without analysing it and I remember feeling a real sense of pride at the way it had all finally come together and how true it was to what I had envisioned in my head. The fact that I could pull off that monster of a project, at that scale, was a surprise in itself to me. But to have it come so close to what was in my head and be received the way it had been, was a happy surprise and something that made me feel real pride.
I have had the luxury to love and enjoy what I do for a living and I thank my stars every day for just that. The theatre has definitely shaped my life. And after experiencing so many different forms and aspects of it over the years, I think one of my favourite parts of the experience is the sound of a silent audience. An audience that’s immersed in your play and completely focussed on what’s happening on stage at that moment. We performed house full shows of Sing India Sing at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre with an audience of over a 1000 people. There was a moment during one of the songs where everything went dark on stage and then exploded back into life with the music, lights, graphics, choreography and vocals, at which the entire audience collectively gasped in awe. I always have goosebumps when I think back to that moment and to so many other similar ones where everything goes to plan and an audience reacts, as one, to something you’ve created. That feeling is too strong to let go of and I keep working towards it with the hope that I can continue to surprise myself.