'The rush of a street play is incomparable'

'The rush of a street play is incomparable'

Firebrand actor

'The rush of a street play is incomparable'

You don’t have to see her shout on the streets to know that she’s a street theatre artiste. The passion she nurses for social issues, the way she talks about the impoverished and marginalised in the society, is enough to tell you that. There have been many big and small theatre artistes in Delhi who have lived and exhausted their glory in the confines of auditoriums, but nobody has endeared herself to the aam junta like Shilpi Marwaha has.

She has now moved to the next ‘level.’ She was recently seen in Raanjhanaa and is now looking forward to the release of her next Bhoomiyude Avakashikal (The Inheritors of the Earth) where she plays a Gujarat riots victim. But ask her which medium she loves more and she says without hesitation: Theatre.

“It was a great experience working in both the films. Anand (Rai) sir (director, Raanjhanaa) and TV Chandran sir (director, Bhoomiyude Avakashikal) are great mentors. However, the adrenaline rush that a nukkad-natak provides is incomparable. In films, you speak to the camera; in a street play, you interact directly with people. You inform them, warn them and entertain them. There are no retakes here.”
Considering her vast and diverse body of work – over 5000 productions on various social issues – and the fame that she has earned, it is difficult to believe that she is only 25. Also, she started doing theatre only in college - Kamala Nehru where she studied Commerce. “I was too shy to even think of going into dramatics. Like a good girl I would bury myself in books until one day when Arvind (Gaur) sir (of Asmita Theatre) came for auditions.”
“I have seen a lot of misery early on in my life. My mother died when I was only eight because the government hospital she was taken to didn’t have any doctors to attend to her. But then, not everyone has even an access to a hospital. I wanted to do something to change things and I guess, Arvind sir showed me the way. I haven’t looked back since.”

Medical emergencies are a recurring subject in her plays, though her troupe Asmita Theatre has hardly left any such subject – road rage, child rights, corruption, inflation or even casteism - untouched. Among her favourites, she counts, “Dastak – our nukkad-natak on eve-teasing which we have performed in every corner of Delhi-NCR by now.”

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox