‘Asmita Theatre Group’ is one of the most prominent and regarded theatre groups in India. With plays based on social and political issues the group has managed to carve a niche for itself. Under the guidance of director, activist and visionary Arvind Gaur, the group has achieved much acknowledgment and admiration. Acclaimed actors like Kangana Ranaut, Shilpa Shukla, Deepak Dobriyal, and Shilpi Marwaha are products of this very enigmatic assembly.
In this context, One World News interacted with Gaurav Mishra, the Assistant Director of the group, on its evolution, achievements till date and also its plans for the future.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am a theatre actor from Asmita Group, working under the famous theatre Director Arvind Gaur for the past three years. Up till now, I have taken part in more than 1000 street plays on various social and political issues and have done more than 500 stage plays under Arvind Gaur as an Actor, Assistant Director, Stage Management, Light Design, Set Design. I have also worked with him in various workshops in Delhi University, IIT, IIM Lucknow and many more.
Today, yours’ is an established theatre group. Tell us how and when Asmita theatre was formed?
Asmita theatre group was formed in 1993 by Arvind Gaur. The main motive to form this theatre group was to raise the social and political issues of our society which are generally ignored, moreover, to give a fair platform to those who want to do serious theatre.
What’s special about the Asmita group, which makes it stand apart from the crowd?
Asmita, one of the leading Hindi theatre groups in the country stands committed to aesthetically innovative and socially relevant theatre. Ever since its inception in 1993, Asmita has carved a niche for itself in the Indian theatre scene by staging plays of varied socio-political interest while not losing out on mass appeal.
The group takes up contemporary issues to underline the contours of our time while providing the best entertainment. The group has seventy-two productions to its credit and on an average has been performing for about sixty nights a year.
All these plays have been directed by Asmita‘s Resident Director, Arvind Gaur. For Asmita, theatre has a purpose of awakening the audience to contemporary issues and creating a dialogue on the prevailing social problems. Asmita theatre group is also involved in the street theatre movement. The group has performed dozens of street plays on different socio-political issues. This allows us to connect with the general public, who don’t watch staged plays.
Have you been awarded for any of your plays? When and for which one?
Asmita has performed in all major theatre festivals of India and abroad including International Solo Theatre Festival- Armenia, International Theatre Festival, Nizhnevartovsk-Russia, International Theatre festival- France, National School of Drama Festival (Bharat Rang Mahotsava), Sangeet Natak Akademi, Sahitya Kala Parishad, Darpana Academy of Performing Art’s festival (Ahmedabad), Delhi International Arts Festival 2007, Nandikar National festival, Vivachana Theatre Festival, Old World Theatre Festival, Times Festival, Muktibodh Natya Samaroh, World Social Forum and Nehru Centre Festival- Mumbai. Asmita has also staged various plays in collaboration with organizations like Abhinay Theatre-Sydney, Theatre World, UNODC, British Council -Chennai, IHC, Katha, Association of British Scholars-Delhi, Paridhi, 2nd Foundation, Lakshya (KNC), Bahroop, Banjara Theatre-IIT Kharagpur, India International Centre, Rainbow Cavaliers, M.Dot Band -Jaipur, Vivechana -Jabalpur, Zenith, Prithvi Theatre Festival (platform theatre IHC, 2004) and NGO’s like Mobile Creches, Action-Aid, Haq, PCVC, Deepalaya, Heinrich Boll Foundation, Times Foundation, Aalo-a ray of hope, Asian Social Forum, Centre of Civil Society (Jeevika festival) Youth reach and World Social Forum.
How was your experience working with Asmita group? Tell us about any memorable moment that you share with the group?
It has been great experience with Asmita. I have been working here for the last 5 years, and surprisingly, before coming to Asmita I had never performed or took part in any of the theatre activities. What I am doing is all that I have learnt here under Arvind sir. I always remember what he told me the very first day “any one can act”.
In Asmita, I not only learned the nuisances of acting but also learnt to be a good human being. Now, I have performed in more than 500 stage shows. Before joining Asmita, I did not know about any theatre group in Delhi and now I realise my decision to join Asmita was completely wise. I feel very lucky that I met a teacher like him.
Have any of your plays been converted into a movie?
Yes! One of our plays called ‘Court Martial’ has been converted into movie named ‘Shaurya’ staring Rahul Bose, K K Menon, Minisha Lamba and Javed Jaffrey.
Do you think that theatre enjoys an upper hand over movies?
In theatre every day is a new day. It needs more commitment, hard work and dedication. You can directly connect to the audiences after a show. We perform continuously for hours which are not to be found in movies. I think theatre is more difficult as compare to movies, as here we do a lot of work besides performing on stage, like production, costumes, set, light and other works but in movies every single work is assigned to several small groups.
Picture Courtesy : Official Facebook Page of Asmita Theatre
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