It’s impossible to take away ‘struggle’ from a dialogue with him. When you know the credit for his present goes to his theatre struggle in Delhi, something in you seems more welcoming to embrace that struggle.
Theatre actor, music director, lyricist, singer and scriptwriter Piyush Mishra is exactly the in person as he is on screen — the same restlessness of his characters, the same talking sense in each sentence — the real Piyush Mishra, sometimes acting in his own style and sometimes singing unique lyrics.
Initiating with ‘those days’, Mishra says, “Vintage songs written those days are a part of my films now. When I wrote songs such as Husna, Ek Bagal Me Chand Hoga or Prachand, I didn’t know they’d be part of a film or garner so much appreciation. When I was in Delhi till 2003, the concept of getting money for creative work didn’t exist. Now, life is much easier. Whatever I’m getting today is because of efforts I made in the past.”
But, the same theatre has somehow taken a backseat in life. “I’m not doing theatre days. The active theatre that I used to do when there was no other work is something I don’t do now. I have gotten tired and, in fact, am scared too of doing the same from morning till night.”
Cinema happened to him when he realised it’s something that he had not experienced earlier. “But even after cinema, what? Nahi nahi, budhapa nahi! Budhe hone ki age meri 18 saal me aa gayi thi. At the age of 18, questions such as ‘From where I have come?’ ‘Where am I headed’ started doing the rounds in my head. You know cinema is more like an occupation for me, because that pays me and gives me the opportunity to close my eyes and sit ideal without worrying about the finances.”
Mishra also has a few regrets, as he says, “You guys have projected me as a leftist. Khamakhaan bana diya! Main kahin se lefist nahi tha. From the kind of plays I did and the songs I wrote, I was being referred to as a revolutionary. At least ask me who I am! Believe me, that’s all that I knew. The work I had done is exactly what I knew; nothing else. Everyone sees life from one point of view and my point of view was that. When I wrote the song Are Ruk Ja Re Bande, my only thought was why do Hindu and Muslims keep fighting. See, this is the way I think, see things and react. Kaam karne ka ik andaaz hai jisne mujhe logon ki nazron me anokha bana diya hai.”
Stating that he is ‘god gifted’ and not ‘talented’, Mishra thinks the one responsible for giving him and various other theatre artistes a platform is Ram Gopal Verma. “The phase started with Ram Gopal Verma’s Satya in 1998 and till 2004, when Maqbool came out, the scene had been established. Anurag Kashyap also has a major role to play, though I don’t agree with that man much. But, phases would certainly be considered as ‘pre-Anurag Kashyap’ and ‘post-Anurag Kashyap’. One Anurag Kashyap is necessary for every nation; two might be more than enough.”
Cinema, theatre, music —amidst it all, does Mishra have any major regrets? “Earlier, I was full of regrets. Today, I’m blessed that I’m living such a life. But then, what life do those people live who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth? Everyone should have purpose; one spends their entire life fruitfully finding that purpose. My struggle in life was always against my personality and myself; not against name, fame or money. ‘Struggle’ is not about getting a role. It is about whether one would be able to remain an actor till the time he gets the role.”
Mishra’s upcoming projects include Sai Kabir’s Revolver Rani, Tere Bin Laden 2 and The Playback Singer, which will mark his Hollywood debut.