Keeping Their Passion Alive: Despite work commitments, city professionals squeeze out time to moonlight as thespians
Most of them don’t think of their acting career as a passive source of income but as a way to contribute to the city’s rich thespian culture and seek pleasure and peace from their passion.
LUCKNOW Cardiologist by day, actor by night -- would probably make for a good title if a movie was to be made on city-resident Dr Rakesh Kumar, who runs a clinic at Mahanagar during the day and blows off steam by pursuing his passion of theatre acting after dusk. Although he had to move away from the world of theatre acting for a few years due to his work commitments, he recently resumed his acting career with Darpan theatre group’s play. “I’m extremely happy to have restarted acting. It gives me immense pleasure that now I will get do it on a regular basis. This gives me peace after a hard day’s work,” he said.
Dr Kumar is not alone in his pursuit of keeping his thespian passion alive. Several other city-based professionals -- including entrepreneurs, technocrats, and academicians, among others -- are juggling their acting career with a regular day job. Most of them don’t think of their acting career as a passive source of income but as a way to contribute to the city’s rich thespian culture and seek pleasure and peace from their passion.
The ongoing 10-day Darpan theatre festival is witnessing the involvement of several such residents who are thespians on the side. “Who says passion and profession cannot be pursued together? One should only have the zeal to do it,” said Veteran film and theatre actor Narendra Kumar Panjwani, 72, who kept his acting passion alive despite serving in different roles at a private multinational company for 22 years.
Along with a prolific corporate career, Panjwani performed plays in a variety of languages -- including French, Urdu, African (criol), English, and others. “I used to learn the local languages of those countries and then perform in plays,” said Panjwani. “After coming back to India post-retirement, I continued theatre acting as it gives me immense pleasure,” added the Lucknow resident who has over 45 years of experience in theatre acting and has been part of several daily soaps, films, advertisements, and dubbings, among others. He worked with stalwarts like Shyam Benegal, Sudhir Mishra, Anubhav Sinha, Baba Azmi, Jayraj Nair, Bansi Kaul, and Urmil Kumar Thapliyal, among others.
Similarly, Alka Vivek, an academician, has been associated with the Darpan group since 1998. This is despite the fact that Alka also runs an institute where she teaches technical subjects related to computers. “Work gives me money but stage gives me peace,” said Alka, who has been one of the most active theatre actors of the Darpan group and Bharatendu Natya Academy. So far, Alka has done 90 shows of 35 plays -- including Khubsoorat Bahu, Mahanirman, Much Much Gari, and Khubsoorat Bala, among others. Alka’s husband Vivek Srivatsava, who is a computer technician, is also accosted with the theatre as a technical support provider.
Another prominent city resident, Sanjay Degloolkar, 60, who works at the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, in the administration department, says he feels energetic when he takes out time from his work and rehearses for acting after work. Degloolkar’s love for theatre has kept his association with Darpan intact for 33 years. He has acted in 100 shows of 12 plays. “We may not earn from it but can certainly deliver relief and pleasure out of it,” he said.
Vansh Srivastava, 29 an electricity department employee, also echoed the sentiment. Srivastava has been part of several plays despite a 9-to-5 job.