Bowing down to the guru

Bowing down to the guru

Perfect Shishya

Veteran actor Om Puri recalls his days at the National School of Drama (NSD) and his guru with fondness having learnt the nuan­c­es of acting from the doyen of Indian theatre Ebrahim Alkazi.

Om, who unlike other theatre actors of his cadre has picked a variety of films and genre, says “being in NSD under Alkazi was no less than being at an Army school.

“During my three years at the NSD, Alkaziji never came late even for five minutes. Neither had he allowed students to enter the classroom if they were late,” he reminisces.

Om Puri and Ebrahim Alk­a­zi both were honou­r­ed with Guru-Shishya Award by IBN7 in the City recently. As director NSD, Alkazi is known to have trained actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Rohini Hattangadi, Vijaya Mehta, Om Shivpuri and Suhas Joshi.

Calling him an ideal guru, Om says Alkazi not only tau­g­ht the nitty-gritty of acting but also the spirit behind it. “Alkazi is a character builder. Anyone can teach the skills of acting but he lay emphasis on phy­sical fitness, mental alertness and moral character. He was a very strict and discipli­ne-loving teacher. When we did not give our best he scolded us but also appreciated generously when we performed well. I was his one of the most sincere students. His value system and he himself literally reside in me,” he shares with Metrolife.

“Once we were doing a rom­a­ntic scene for a play called Three Sisters. It was a very well-written and tender scene. We were so engrossed in the performance that the actress had tears in her eyes at the end of the scene. After the scene, Alkaziji said ‘this is a moment of truth in acting.’ I felt very proud,” he adds.

About the guru-shishya tradition, he says it is left only in Indian classical dance and music scenario now and in theatre to some extent. “Now, the value system has changed. The kind of respect teachers used to get and the dedication with which teachers treated their students is nowhere to be seen now. Everything is commercial now,” says Om, who has been in film industry for over 30 years.

Om, who was last seen in Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya in a comic character, will play the role of a Naxalite leader in Prakash Jha’s next Chakravyuh. “My character is based on Naxal leader Kobad Gandhi, who is presently lodged in Tihar. I wanted to meet him but was not given permission. I read books on Naxalism to understand the issue. The film will have an open-ended climax,” he sums up. 

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