This company still works wonders

GOLDEN JUBILEE

When Ebrahim Alkazi Sir started the repertory, Om Shivpuri and Sudha Shivpuri were in the first batch of actors and later went on to marry each other,” recollects Ajeet Singh Palawat and Ipshita Chakraborty, the (married) actors in the present National School of Drama Repertory Company.

In its 50th year now, as the repertory celebrates its glorious years, Metrolife takes you back into the annals of its historic past.  

“If Indian cinema has completed its 100 years, then NSD Repertory has contributed a lot to its 50 years,” says Ajeet  whom theatre-goers would have spotted portraying major characters in plays such as Raja Dushyant in Chhaya Shakuntalam. Over the weekend when few of the stalwarts returned to NSD, Ajeet could only define the atmosphereas ‘Diwali’.

While Ajeet’s inspiration to join the drama school was an interview of Irrfan Khan published in a renowned magazine in his hometown Jaipur, it was an unplanned encounter with veteran Naseeruddin Shah in her school that Ipshita decided to do the same. “I am dying to see Govind Namdev perform on stage,” confesses Ajeet as Ipshita adds, “Today when we see Raghuvir Sir adjusting the harmonium and Himani Ma’am getting worried about rehearsal, we realise they would have lived similar times like us.” This is evident in the photographs displayed in the corridors
and posters of numerous outstanding plays that the repertory has staged in all these years.

But a significant element of any repertory is it's actors, which NSD has supported since it's inception. “It was during our farewell party that Alkazi Sa’ab walked upto me and said ‘You are employed as an actor in the Repertory Company’,” recalled Pankaj Kapur with moist eyes as he addressed a small gathering at NSD's Abhimanch. “It is difficult to explain to a youngster of today how it feels to get employed when you hail from a small town and have huge aspirations,” he added.

Himani Shivpuri reiterated the same in a candid conversation with Metrolife, “I had got scholarship to pursue MS in America post my graduation in Organic Chemistry.

Through an NSD workshop in my college I got to know about the school and decided to pursue by passion for theatre. From the Rs 250 that we used to get as scholarship, it rose to Rs 600 as apprentice and then Rs 3000 as an artiste in the company. I could sustain myself and my family only because of that money,” says the actress who hails from Dehradun while laughing about how her masterji pulled out the same costume that she wore 30 years back for her to wear for her celebrated performance in Mitro Marjani.

“Our age has altered our faces now,” said the jovial Raghubir Yadav on seeing his old colleagues. “We had to improvise our parts because when we played hero/heroine in Saiyyan Bhaye Kotwal, we used to be young.” He giggles remembering his old days
but doesn't forget to add, “Ab jo stage par perform karne ka maza chakha diya hai, toh ab hum log dobara aana chahenge,” and leaves the present generation wondering about when will these golden actors give their captivating performances again on
the stage.    

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