Retirement is a state of mind

THEATRE STALWART

Time passes sooner than one realises leaving behind memories of what has been accomplished and what more could have been done. Similar thoughts were shared by the esteemed theatre director-scenic designer-costume designer, Amal Allana.

Having been at the helm of affairs for National School of Drama for the past several years and carrying forth the legacy of her father, Ebrahim Alkazi, Amal recently bid adieu to NSD. But even before one could ask her what will she fill her time with, she launches her book ‘The Art of Becoming - Actors Talk’.

In a conversation with Metrolife, Amal shares some thoughts. “We set up a new centre in Tripura and Bangalore each and a development centre in Guwahati,” says Amal adding that she also sat down with the architect to re-design the current NSD campus. “Once it is revamped, it will have a 1000 seater state-of-the-art auditorium, hostel accommodation for students and a theatre museum. I wo­u­ld have been very happy if the work had started during my tenure but it got late in getting all permissions,” she says.

She has also suggested to the Government to set up a National Council for Theatre Development. “Every country has one, then why don’t we?” she questions adding that she would like “NSD to encourage its old students to come back and perform at least once in a year.” Much like the Bharat Rang Mahotsav, which has been curated by her.
How does she remain so active even at 65?

“I am an action person. I think of an idea and want it to happen but government works in its own rhythm,” she smiles sharing that it is the same in her family. Be it her husband, Nissar Allana or her son Rahaab, all keep working and are “dedicated to art. We want to work and archive the historical material in a proper way. When one knows that one is doing something that is pioneering in the industry, one finds the energy too. Breaking new ground is always energising!”

Something that she did by launching probably the first book on actors written by a director. It includes rare photographs from theatre productions pre and post-­Inde­ ­­­­­p­­­e­ndence and also exclusive interviews of NSD alumni now stalwarts in the entertainment industry.

Amal explains the reason behind the thought, “Everybody forgets who wrote the play, who did the costumes, even who directed it but we always love the actors and wa­t­ch every flicker of their eye. We are so drawn to them and identify with them but it is a tricky job to be an actor. There are many break downs that an actor faces. Especially after emotional plays, they feel drained out, because for them its like being something else, so they pour whatever they have and at times face difficulty in coming back to the normal life.”

It was a Herculean task to find old photographs and to create a detailed list of the name of plays in which the actor acted alongwith the name of the production and company. “It is now a resource for all the students who will resea­r­ch on theatre actors in future. I wanted them to know who our dadas, pardadas were!”

Much like her directed plays – Nati Binodini and Aadhe Adhure did. For those who haven’t been lucky enough to catch them, Amal promises to be back. “I will go back to my actors now. Meanwhile, I have already started writing my next book which is on my father. Nissar and I have so many plans that it will take another 200-300 years to accomplish them all.” Wishing you a long life to fulfill them all.

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