Gallery of images that capture rasas of theatre

NINE EMOTIONS

With much difficulty one stops admiring the childlike smile of Naseeruddin Shah sitting on a bench. 

Captured during the staging of the play A Walk in The Woods directed by his better half Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseer’s grinning gesture evoked the Hasya rasa when the framed picture was mounted in the Visual Art Gallery at India Habitat Centre as part of the recently concluded exhibition ‘Theatrescapes’, by Shobha Deepak Singh.

An accomplished artiste, Shobha Deepak Singh provided an aesthetic perspective to the photographs of various theatre productions shot by her from as early as 1991 till recent times. 
 
“As a child living in a joint family, I was quite a multi-tasker and don’t remember when I developed the passion for photography. Soon my father noticed my passion for this art and gifted me a Yashika camera,” recollects the artiste who soon took to documenting the cultural programmes at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, the institute set up by her mother Sumitra Charat Ram.

The charm of using a non-autofocus camera still seizes her and she gets excited “when photos come out well” .
 
She has compiled these and many more such gems in a book by the same name as the exhibition.

A look at the centre wall of the gallery and the navarasas from Natya Shastra are stunningly demonstrated through expressions of veteran actors from a gamut of theatrical performances. 
 
The heart fills up with these emotions when one walks through the colourful display curated by Dr Alka Pande, each colour signifying a feeling, an emotion. 
 
There  is yellow which stands for  veera, bibhatsa (blue), shringara (green), karuna (grey), 
shanta (white), bhayanaka (black), hasya (white), raudra (red) and adbhuta (goldenyellow) which enchant the visual senses.

Beginning with the heroic sentiment (veera rasa) depicted ably by Usha Ganguli in her play Chandalika to the wonder and amazement that is aroused by a picture of Indira in Ratan Thiyam’s When We Dead Awaken, it is an emotional experience to see the familiar faces in a new light and perspective.

An enraged Joy Sengupta twisting his wife’s arm in Lillete Dubey’s stage adaptation of Aadhe Adhure arouses disgust (bibhatsa) just like Kusum Haidar who holds her nose when in the arms of Manohar Singh during the play Kaho Katha Khajuraho Ki by Amal Allana.

Thespian Manohar Singh’s act in Amal Allana’s Nagamandala gets categorised under shringara (love and attractiveness) rasa and the photographer confesses helplessly: “Manohar Singh is my favourite when it comes to capturing theatre actors through my lens. I can’t forget him in Amal Allana’s Begum Barve,” she says about the versatile actor whose facial expressions were gripping. 

The same could be said for Naseeruddin Shah who is captivating in Feroz Khan’s Mahatma vs Gandhi, where he shares the stage with another intense actor Kay Kay Menon and depicts pathos (karuna). 

Even Swaroopa Ghosh’s depiction in Ebrahim Alkazi’s Virasat conjures up a similar response. 

A faint smile on the face of a composed Nadira Zaheer Babbar in her play Begum Jaan displays the emotion of peace (shanta) while R K Bhogen in Ratan Thiyam’s Uttar Priyadarshini provokes the mind with fury (raudra).  
 
However, a glance at the black and white photo of real-life sisters Uzra Sehgal and Zohra Sehgal in Madeeha Gauharwas’s Ek Thi Naani, and anyone is sure to fall in love with them!

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