Saturday, June 2, 2018

'AGE?'




Gurgaon, 10:44 am

Last Friday I woke up a little early.
I was called to a government arts center, for a selection interview to improve the condition of theatre teaching in the capital. They had actually selected a list of theatre directors to take a summer workshop in some school for the month of June. I was very happy. They had called only those people whose plays had been funded by the government center. ('DRAMA JANTAR KA', our last play was funded by them). So, it was a big thing for me.
I was getting ready for the interview. I had taken out an ironed T-shirt and a formal trousers. I had taken out the originals of the photocopies I had submitted. Three days ago, I had got a call to be there for the interview at 2 p.m.
I got to know about this kids' workshop, through this official who was dealing with Kamaan (my group). He asked me that I can apply for it. He said only directors till the age of 40 can apply. Isaid, I will be 30 this year. He said, "Bahot time hai aapke paas, Harishji, bhar dijiye!" (You have lots of time Mr. Harish. Apply)

This is how the process started. I got ready, picked up my friend near the art center and we reached it. We took the lift to the third floor. As the lift was going up, nervously I checked my watch and it was 1:40. I was happy that we had made it on time.

The door opened and I saw so many young men and women sitting on sofas. I was happy to see so many young people applying for the posts. As the lift opened, everyone sitting there saw us. I went to the desk and saw that there was an attendance list, which was already full. I felt bad for a second that was I late?

I had started filling in and I noticed that everyone was in kurtas, which is usually my dress. But for an interview I don't wear a kurta, I wear it on a rehearsal or a nice evening. Even the peon was dressed in a kurta. I, for a second felt that was I in a wedding!

So, the man who was getting the form filled asked me that did I apply for a 'Director' or an 'Assistant Director'? I said that I have applied for a director's post. His eyes checked me again. Then he said, let me check and come back. He took my form and left.

As he came back, I looked at the young men ad women sitting in front of me. They were all wearing kurtas on a denim, but kurtas were always for comfort and not a style statement. I wondered how over the years wearing a kurta has become symbolic of art or theatre, as we don't have to go to an office and this outfit is comfortable. In fact, today I was wearing a T-shirt but not on denims, as I never found them good in summers. As I was analysing the dresses, the man came back and shouted,
"K. HARISH SINGH" ... you are being called in for a director's post. Please go in.

I went in and there was a panel of 5 gentlemen sitting and having chai-biscuits. So, one of them asked me, "Good morning Harish, are you formally trained in Drama?"
I replied in a confident voice, "No sir." The man replied,"So, what have you done?" I started telling him about my education in film from National Institute of Design. Some other man, tried making fun of me saying "National Colleges..." se toh bahot log hain. (Many people are from National colleges)

I understood that they had been interviewing candidates the whole day, and I could understand the "Enough yar!" attitude of the man.
The first man asked me again, "Harish, if my shirt is torn, I don't go to a cobbler, will he fix it? Whom do I go to?" This comment was more like a scolding and less like a question.
I said, "Sir, you will go to a tailor!"

The third guy, in a softer voice asked me, "Do you have any experience in theatre?"
I replied, "Yes sir, I have written and directed 5 plays with my group. I usually go to workshops to NID and MICA.

This shook me.


The first man interrupted again, "NID? As a student or an instructor?"

- It in a split second took me to the NID Vijaywada taxi where the driver had told me that usually the professors have a grey beard. I was new, like a student. He smiled and apologised.
- I also remember MICA, where I was waiting outside my class's first day sitting in shorts and the students did not notice me.
- I also remember doing a play in Kamani auditorium control room. I had come to check the lights and the man there said that we won't let me touch them as he was waiting for an 'OLD' director!
- I was also reminded of my interview at Hindustan Times, where the senior asked me that why am I taking this 'chhota sa' reporter's job when I had already worked in two films!

I came back to the interview and I replied,"Sir, as an instructor...as a teacher. I enjoy teaching and sharing. It is a lovely give and take process."

They ended the interview saying that I was nice, but I have ten more years. They would love to meet me again next year. I was shaken by the whole process of the government and people of India. On one hand, they need the teacher's to be smart and updated but they also want the teachers to be 'OLD'.
In ten years, I would not be in sync with the kids. My sense of humour would be rusted!
I was sad.

Last Saturday too, I woke up a little early, and wondered that is knowing too much a fault? I just chucked it and left for Kamaan to start a new play :)

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