Guest post by Nalini Keshava
I used to direct and choreograph dance dramas in my school and college days. My friends insisted me to act and I used to shrug and say "Acting & me ...Pufffff not happening ". I used to think that I cannot be in character without giggling for a minute.
During the Ravishing women's show for "Brides of India , I met Piyali De who helped me to dress as a Bengali Bride. We connected quite well. She told me about her upcoming show "Heer Ranjha". I was quite excited since there would be a lot of dancing but completely forgot that I had to act too.
During our initial practice all I did was giggle during duets. It was so difficult for me look at my partner and not giggle. Fortunately my good friend Phani played Ranjha's role. He was patient enough to bear my giggles and was very supportive in the duets. As time progressed I became comfortable with the duets and was able to smile, feel shy and be in the character. The song chosen for the duet was "Lag ja gale".
I had heard this song so many times since childhood but the version sung by Bhavya pandit is a folk version. It is magical. Its never late to hear this version and I bet that you will hear it more than once :). For the second duet with Ranjha, I had to be sad and gradually start feeling happy and content after seeing Ranjha. The biggest challenge for me was to cry for the "Refusal duet with "Saida" who is Heer's husband. The song chosen for it was "Re Kabira Man Ja".
It was easy to smile or feel shy but crying! When I heard the track for Re Kabira Man Ja,I was literally shivering .The track had few dialogues and so much sobbing by the actress.
I was like "Can I really Cry ? Can I reaaaaaally do this ?Is there a way I will not do this ? Should I Convince Piyali Di to reduce the dialogues? All such stupid thoughts were running in my mind.
The practice session started and I was able dance well. I was wondering how could I do justice to the role and sob naturally in front of the audience. My nervousness was piling up as the show day was closer.
I started watching all the old Hindi movies where the heroines did such a splendid job at crying scenes. I experimented my crying scenes with my hubby. He really helped me a lot to be in the role .He was the one to push me to give my 100% in all the 3 duets.
Whenever he used to see the duets, he would say "I know that you can dance well, but there is no life in the character". I really started working to be in the character.I was bugging Piyali Di, my friends to help me with emotions.I didn't want to look bad on the stage while acting with so many good actors.
We chose "Laal Dupaata from Mujse Shaadi Karoge" for Heer's introductory song. We were 7 girls in total .Had a blast during practice sessions.It was so much fun to connect, dance and giggle with them. No drama, no jealously among the girls, it was only and only dance and FUN :)
I connected with all the actors who were apt for the roles. Learnt a lot from them. Worked on my expressions for the songs. Although I have been dancing for a while , this show made me realize that expressions play a vital role while dancing.
I was pleased to hear good comments about my acting too. According to my hubby ,I am a better actor than a dancer . Yayyyyyyy. I am still digesting the compliment since all I wanted to do was not to giggle and be in the character.
Acting is not a joke. I now really wonder how the actors and actress in the film industry do it especially in front of so many people.They have to disconnect and be in the character .
Heer Ranjha show by Amrita Seattle was a huge hit. The audience loved our dance drama. We were so pleased to hear good and cheerful comments from the audience who laughed,cried and connected with the story.
I cannot thank enough for all my team who helped me ease my nervousness and gave constructive feedback that made me do a pretty decent job portraying Heer .
From the bottom of my heart ,I feel very strongly for Heer's character. It is really tough for a women at her time to express her right to marry a person of her choice. She was very strong and in fact stood up for herself despite all the betrayal and treachery from her family. During my practice sessions, I could relate the pain she went through to explain her husband on the first night that she only and only loves Ranjha and she cannot be touched. Despite all circumstances, she did not give up and finally married Ranjha. Unfortunately she was poisoned and Ranjha her true soul mate dies with her.I am glad that I was chosen to play such a strong women's role. I feel very fortunate to pay a tribute to this Wonderful Women. I bow and salute to this great lovers who will be remembered in millions of hearts.
Please watch the video :)
Please watch the video :)