Monday, January 20, 2014

THE TIME OF MY LIFE..XXIV..Aching to be an actor!!



Rajshri Films had started a new trend in Hindi Cinema with their low  budget, light comedies like Dulhan wohi jo piya man bhaye and others of this genre, I cajoled Srivatsa to take me to their office in Worli to meet the people in charge for finding new faces. I left my pictures and telephone number and have been waiting for a call all these years!
My dearest wish was to act as Amitaab Bachchan’s mother in a movie. That would mean my playing my fingers lightly through his hair as he lay with his head on my lap, singing ‘hey maa, teri surat se alag, bhagavan ki  surat kya hogi ‘l do not know why actresses think it’s demotion when they are given mother roles. Our films give more respect to the mother than the heroine who is there only to bare her assets. I guess I have missed the bus again since Amitaab is looking more like my father!  A sister’s role would be just fine . Hope never dies.
Acting in a serial  for the TV is the next best option for an aspiring actress. Burjor Patel is a well known producer of English plays in Mumbai. He decided to try his hand at making it to the TV . This was in the early eighties when Doordarshan was the only channel. Burjor was a senior manager of a Calcutta based publication and I had met him in the course of my work. All those who meet me, are given a gist of my current obsession, whether they like it or not and Burjor was no exception. He knew my passion for acting and he invited me to an audition. It was to choose a feminist neighbour of the heroine, for the pilot episode he was shooting for TV. I was selected for the role and the shoot was to be in an apartment in Cuffe Parade. The lead role was played by Burjor’s wife Ruby who was a seasoned stage actress. Sayeed Jaffrey was to play her  husband. He had just made news with his role in Gandhi and his star rating was high. I was overwhelmed to be in his presence and very self conscious about mouthing my dialogues. But he was so cool… joking around and encouraging me like I was the best actress he had ever met. I felt totally at ease and started enjoying the part. Unfortunately, the serial did not make its way to the in tray of the mandarins of Mandi House (as the Powers that be at Delhi TV station are known) and it was love’s labour lost.
Over the years, the craze to be on stage and screen has diminished but I still consider my training my training classes and public speeches as a form of acting … a performance. While in Allentown, visiting Anil and Deepali, I had a novel outlet for my acting fever. I read a poster in the local Library, calling for volunteers for the Crime Victims Council. Since I had nothing much to do during the day while Anil and Deep ere away at work , I rang up the number given and spoke to Freda Rafes, the Facilitator. She invited me to act in the role play sessions of the Child Abuse Prevention Programme which they conduct in elementary schools. To show children how to be safe, strong and free. I had to act according to a prepared script, as a ten year old bully who swindles the six year old of her lunch money; as the stranger who lures little children away and a seven year old girl who has to say no uncle Harry who wants to kiss her. This is in a way a training module created for kids, to prepare them for self defence, with a non conflict approach. It was a challenge to do these roles before six and seven year old American children who found my skin colour and accent fascinating. Some tiny voices piped up to tell me’ I like your voice’. This is a very meaningful module and can be useful for young girls to grow up with an awareness of the concept of being Safe, Strong and Free.