The Good, the Bad and the Sholay‘s Kalaa Utsavam run just ended two days ago. I wrote the play at an emotionally tumultuous time in college, when very little was making sense and I was still grappling with what I want to do with myself. Writing was cathartic and rewarding, and it became my refuge.
Unexpectedly, I seem to still have some of the same fears and insecurities I had back then, and it was only when we were finally in the theatre that I allowed myself to confront those devils. In rehearsal, you focus on the details, on the creation of drama, on characters and blocking – all the things that make a great show. But when you’re finally in the theatre, with an audience, breathing with you, anticipating, expecting, joyous – there is nothing more to create. All that’s left is to give up your defences and watch. I cried at very unexpected times, surprising myself with how affected I (still) am.
I am really drained now. I have to be honest with myself – my whole body is overwhelmingly tired from the mental, emotional, physical exhaustion of the past few weeks. When friends have asked me how I feel – tired has been my only, helpless reply.
But it’s now two days since, and I’ve had some redeeming sleep. I finally have energy enough to reflect a little.
It’s been good. It was good to have an unmoving document of who I used to be when I was 19, and to be forced to reinvestigate it. I found myself understanding myself better because of it. I’ve grown up so much in many ways, and in many ways I’m more unabashedly childish than I was then. Both have been good to understand. Both are important because I can be more knowingly comfortable in my own skin – as an artist and collaborator.
My notebook details times when I have managed to get the better of myself. Never before have I managed to be so boundless in patience, energy and optimism. Even when my whole being was terrified, or angry, or just plain dumbfounded, I somehow managed to keep calm and composed, somehow kept putting one foot in front of the other. At the end of it all, knowing that I pulled through is giving me a lot of contentment.
And confidence too. Confidence that I have it in me to keep plugging away. Bua said once, casually – “What do you mean you have no energy? One always has energy.” That’s been very true. I really have had infinite energy (which I’m paying for now, with infinite sleepiness).
The team of 8 wonderful actors who gave the play so much – looking back, I can’t believe my luck. So many random, fortunate things had to happen for that particular group of people to join forces in the rehearsal room, and it’s been such a particularly special process because of it. I haven’t had it in me to convey properly how grateful, indebted I am for their love and labor. This was a huge project for me – my (inner?) life is at a crucial crossroads – and it meant the world to me to be able to depend on their talent, their generosity, and their sense of humour. Poo-rub. Julie, Deborah, Chanel, Xin Xuan, Ghafir, Thomas, Pavan, Kubhaer – thank you all so very much.
A lot of my life was on stage this past weekend. I’m very grateful that my family was able to come and watch. Maanavi was there, missing classes. (the beautiful photos in this post were taken by her). Ragini was there, missing an exam! I’m also so thankful for the wonderful friends I am fortunate to have, who came and watched and were there, smiling and with hugs at the ready when it ended. It’s a strange thing – because it is in the nature of this work that it is only worth it if friends and family can watch it, and enjoy it. Which is why I so sorely missed family in Delhi and Mumbai who weren’t able to come, and who might not end up reading this either. In person, I will probably not be able to tell them how much I wished they were here. Just like I wasn’t able to tell my friends who didn’t come how much I missed them…
At the moment – I’m just really, really happy. Happy to have worked on this play, worked with people I respect, admire and love, and worked so so hard. And happy also that the work was received well by friends, family and audiences in general.
Meanwhile, the world will keep spinning, and I will move on to another project too soon. I just hope that when the next thing I do comes out, I am able to say the same things – that I made no compromises, that I worked myself to the ground, that I worked with wonderful people, that I was able to share it with my loved ones, and that I am happy.