Sometimes, madness is the beginning to incredible pleasure . . . .
The annual awards function and cultural event.
For me, the participation in Scintillations was just a way to get some change in my routine life. The event was Mad Act where one actor from each unit was to act a famous character in a small skit of around 20 mins. It was just around 10 days from the D-Day and the script was nowhere to be finalized. People involved were busy in official commitments and to manage everyone at the same time for practice was a herculean task. Initially, I was apprehensive – this might turn out to be a boring experience with a vague script and unknown people. But, I went ahead with my fingers crossed.
The first meeting was pure IT istyle with all the introduction and formality part thrown in. But, some people strike a chord somewhere. Even if some of us had come to find an excuse from work like me, some were seriously involved in theatre since their college days. They were the driving force for kick starting the practice with zeal. Just within half an hour of discussion, the characters were decided and the basic script was finalized. That was quite a feat in itself and I couldn’t help but appreciate the sheer mettle of our caption/director to judge the group so fast and settle down everything. It was a positive sign.
Bless me!!! I was the only girl in the gang of seven guys. There was an Akbar Hyderabadi, A Gadadhari Bheem, A.K. Hungal, Amol Palekar, Baburao Apte and Sachin Tendulkar and between them – I, Dee Dee from Dexter’s laboratory. Just the inclusion of such a weird list of characters created a feel of humor and to add to it was the theme of the skit which made it hilarious.
Initially, only some basic movements and dialogues were written. But, as the practice progressed, there were some on the spot additions and improvisations which started to change the entire mood and feel of the script. People who were bit conscious earlier, started to open up throwing away all the inhibitions. The comfort level soared significantly which helped the characters to evolve in their own style. There was a huge arena of possibilities now; which I could imagine and if all went well, this could be one of the most memorable experiences of my life – emotionally as well as intellectually.
While practicing, there were mistakes; there were retakes and big chucks of laughter thrown in between. After 4 days of practice, everyone seemed to forget that they were there as a part of competition from different units. Instead, all were immersed in one common motto – to act, to enjoy and to make this a great skit. We started to come on time and wait till late nights for practice. The pleasure and joy was palpable and contagious wherein all put their best to make it a success.
Our director Amol Palekar was the biggest driving force behind the entire scene. He acted the best and made others act to their best. The ways and styles with which he could enact each and every dialogue were truly amazing. With his energy, humor and dedication he would make it sure that we enjoyed what we are doing and still are serious enough to work hard – just like the real Palekar. The result - our skit was turning out to be an outright comedy.
Then there was Akbar, though a pure Marathi – he could act like he is a Hyderabadi by birth. His ease on the stage was magnetic and his constant jokes were a hit. Though he made mistakes and forgot his lines, it made up for a greater laugh and brought in lots of improvisations. Together with Palekar, he used to give the entire team a food for fun and laughter. I never thought I would get a friend for life in him.
Sachin, Baburao, A.K.Hungal, Bheem all brought their individual charm to the skit. I felt I should shoot the practice session because I knew one day, more than the actual performance, I am gonna miss the practice session the most. We were a great team and I wanted to hold on to the bonding.
Finally we were ready to perform on the D-Day. We were wandering throughout the grounds without a single worry – our skit was perfectly ready. It was remarkable to watch our team get ready in their costumes - Akbar, Bheem, A. K. Hungal and specially Baburao with his dhoti, topi and old bag.
We all were set and the skit was announced.
20 minutes of sheer pleasure. Period. What an experience that was. There was no stage and no audience – we were as we have been in the practicing room – natural, comfortable and humorous. It was after the performance that we realized we were a hit. The audience was laughing for the entire skit and the mood was ecstatic. We rocked. We surely did!!!!
For me, it was a moment of assimilation – what had started as just a fun activity for me had unquestionably turned out to be one of the most memorable journeys. The entire process had not only given me friends for life time but a benchmark to look back to whenever I get involved any such initiative further. There was a lot to take home from the moment but I was just basking in the achievement. The time had given me such an expected result that I was sure to be in the same mood for days to come. And I was hoping the same for others too. And more than anything else, it was humbling to realize that we had performed as a team – not as individuals.
Today after more than a year after the event, the memories are still fresh. I feel like asking Palekar his expert comments when i practice for this year's skit. I see the difference in attitude when i see other people practicing for their skit. I often run into Palekar in the office canteen and all I can remember is his typical way of saying his dialogues. I meet Akbar and I share the same jokes in Hyderabadi accent. I can see Baburao walking briskly with his bag and I imagine Sachin with his bat and gloves.
Sometimes madness really is the beginning for great pleasure. I started the madness and the delight has yet not died.
This memoir is especially for all the mad friends I made so that they don’t think twice before acting mad once in a while. . . .