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Dhoop Chaoon-Hindi Theater Group’s rendezvous with actor Shishir Sharma

BY SARIKA JASWANI

Atlanta, GA, May 24, 2023: On Saturday, May 15, 2023, a renowned face of television and Indian film industry, Shishir Sharma, had a tete-a-tete with Dhoop Chaoon-Hindi Theater Group of Atlanta.  Sharma was heralded by DC team members on a Zoom call.

Vijay Gaur gave Sharma a warm welcome on behalf of all the team members in his baritone and Rita Kapahi gave a formal introduction of the DC group to the actor. She acquainted him with two main foundational objectives that define the establishment of the group in 2007. a) Conservation of Hindi language and culture, and b) bringing entertainment to Atlanta that has now come to be a home away from the home.

Currently, DC group has 116 members in the age group 3 to 75. DC Theater has produced 11, 3/3 hours of stage performances in and around Atlanta. DC Theater also boasts of directing and producing four short films. Literary plays, written by prominent legendary writers like Mohan Rakesh, Bhisham Sahani, Rajendra Kumar Sharma, K.P. Saxena, Sacchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan, Ram Sharan Gupta, and Amrita Pritam, and Sandhya Saxena Bhagat have been crafted by the DC group.

Group director Sandhya Saxena Bhagat took the lead in introducing Shishir Sharma to her 40~ group members present from all over USA on the zoom call.

The veteran actor is a bearer of many hats. He has acted in 40 films/TV series and has contributed immensely to the industry with his decorated career of 4 decades. He has played pivotal roles in films: Raazi, Mission Majnu, Talwar, Mary Kom, Dangal, Uri, Gaslight and in international movies like The Second-Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He has been entertaining on the small screen with TV serials like Swabhiman, CID, and web series like Bard of Blood on Netflix.  

Sharma conducts many intensive and interactive workshops in Mumbai, Singapore, and the USA. He also has been orchestrating multiple online workshops for both budding and seasoned artists to further the art of theater and films. Deepti Sharma, now a member of DC group, was the trailblazer in mediating this meet up for the group. She had previously worked with Sharma in a workshop that was organized in India.

Sharma spoke of his reverence for Satyadev Dubey and attributed his accomplishments to the Indian theater director. His first association with Dubey was for the play ‘Sambhog se Sanyas’ where he had the opportunity to collaborate and start a lifetime alliance with Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak. The play was enacted in four different languages: Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, and English.

Innately an introvert, he had never done theater before, but he fondly remembers his parents being closely associated with IPTA (India People’s Theater Association). Senior  Sharma was affiliated with the film Garam Hawa under the NFC banner. At an early onset,  Shishir Sharma realized that acting was a difficult art.

“Acting is the journey of an actor pruning to be a diamond,” said  Sharma very candidly. He acknowledged that in recent years, competitiveness has risen sky high—but so have the opportunities due to an influx of OTT production houses. His impetus of doing workshops is to sharpen the skillset of individuals who see themselves as prospective actors. Acting workshops are baby steps taken towards learning thespian art.

Acting is a process. You are supposed to approach the craft leaving the baggage of ego at the door. We bow down and touch the stage floor on approaching the dais. The rationale behind the gesture is to take the blessings of all who have been on this sacred place before us. Theater is a teamwork and needs at least 7 years of uninterrupted dedication before you even consider yourself worthy of the art.

Script reading is an activity for every team member participating in plays. Whether you are in a lead role or sweeping the floor. There is a distinctive difference between hearing and really listening to a script. Though your character might have no dialogue, the script requires your utmost focus when read. Setting his own example, he recollected an incident of missing his dialogue, but since Ratna Pathak was thorough with her script, she could rescue him from the debacle. He further explained to not be hesitant in experimenting with yourself in portraying different characters or playing certain kinds of roles. Once again, citing his example, he remunerated that he was uncertain to accept the offer of the negative role in television series Swabhiman. The character named ‘KD’ that launched his career on DD national in 1995 made him an overnight star. His modest permissiveness to the art of acting and the persuasion of  Mahesh Bhatt bagged him a hit show. He was cautious to take to this fame with extreme heedfulness.

The high pedestal of fandom comes with hard work. Approaching the stage each time with a nervous energy ensures that you are putting in enough effort that enriches and evolves you as an actor.

In any profession, the pillar of growth stands on discipline, commitment and focus.

Glamor and glitz should not be your end goal. A workshop is the place where you meet, create, and explore your potential. They are not placement agencies or means to an end. Rather, the mindset in coming for a workshop should be to study and work towards refining your capabilities as an actor. It is a place to deep dive into the wealth of literary works of skilled litterateurs and scholars. An acting workshop is a culmination of the tripodal qualities of discipline, commitment, and focus. Integration of these three qualities through workshop training aids in the growth of the individual as an actor.

Emphasizing his point,  Sharma said,” I have conducted 10 sessions with Maryland theater group during Covid.” The subsequential 3 short films from the workshop were received well by everyone and were the quintessential in progress and furtherance of the art through a workshop.

DC team members present for the zoom call absorbed each word spoken by  Sharma with great appreciation. A few individuals from the group had prepared questions and waited with bated breath to have a one on one with  Shishir Sharma. Sharma abided by every one of the questions and answered each one with grace.

The range of questions and their answers were as follows: –

Q – What should be your preparation when you do not have any dialogue in the scene?

A – Exploring the space on the stage helps to expand yourself and deliver your performance through body language. Be present on the stage with both your mind as well as the body.

Q – How to deal with challenges in handling the script?

A – Study the script, read the lines, understand your character. Echo back on all three frequently.

Q – What is  Sharma’s criteria for working with low budget independent film makers?

A –  Shishir Sharma was decidedly open to new ideas and loves inordinately to work with the nervous energy that novel filmmakers bring to the table.

Q-   How does  Sharma bring nuances to his every character that he portrays?

  1.  Shishir Sharma taps into emotions from his personal life experiences to draw out finesse for each character that he plays.

The two-hour comprehensive session ended on a high note of gratitude for  Sharma. DC team members appreciated his power packed, insightful, and exhaustive session. The outlook of DC group was to imbibe all the expertise, the virtuoso, imparted in his encyclopedic session.

 Shishir Sharma ingeniously came through in his introductory session and agreed to come together and plan a workshop for Dhoop Chaoon-Hindi Theater Group. The Dhoop Chaoon horizon is now lit with some remarkable possibilities and eventualities that might transpire from this union. With glazed eyes, DC group members eagerly await the new dawning.

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