The audience sat transfixed as actors delivered a captivating performance on a Delhi stage on Sunday. During the play Barff, actor Sadiya Siddiqui, while exchanging dialogues with her co-actor, walked backwards towards the audience. She reached the edge of the stage, and fell off it. The audiences heard a loud thud and were shaken to see Siddiqui lying flat on the floor, impressed to see her pulling off such an act for the play.
Only that the falling off the stage wasn’t part of the act. Siddiqui had actually fallen off. Her co-actor lifted her and placed her back up on the stage. And she continued playing her part as if nothing odd had happened.
“Saurabh Shukla, the director of the play, had told me that the stage is slightly smaller and warned me to be careful. I had my back towards the audience and was so much into the character that I didn’t realise I had reached the end and fell off the stage,” says Siddiqui, who was later taken to a hospital.
Immediately after the fall, the actor improvised her dialogues to suit the scene. “It was a crucial scene where I had to hit my co-actor, and the story changes. My co-actor, in his baffled state kept calling me by my character’s name instead of my name and said, ‘Nafisa tujhe lag gayi hai, tu andar ja’. The director, Saurabh, was zapped at what had just happened. He was in his character but as a human being was concerned and kept staring at me. But all that was playing in my head was to complete the scene so that the story progresses and I replied to my co-actor ‘Don’t touch me, I’m hurt’.”
Soon the lights went off for interval but the after-effects of drama on-stage continued backstage. “Bahut saara balm, brufen (painkiller), ice pack aur sab kuch laga-kha ke phir stage pe jaake show complete kiya,” says Siddiqui, adding, “After the show, some members from the audience came to me asking ‘The fall was so natural, how much rehearsal did you do for it?’ To maintain the secrecy, I said I didn’t rehearse for the fall. What you saw was a one-take performance.”
Laughing while recollecting the incident, Siddiqui says whatever happened was so quick and in such an improvised way that “audience hi confuse ho gayi ki ye performance ka part tha ya accident?”