Rangamanch | Discovering Our Indian Theatre within a Frame

I grabbed a mid-day Mojito Cool Mint with four pieces of lemon floating in the liquid. To go with that was some garlic bread with some extra spice. I settled down to write during my working lunch. Videocon D2H first introduced me to the Theatre in the Small Screen.

The very first drama that I watched was “Sandhya Chaya” which I rather freakishly translate into “Shadows of the Evening” and it was quietly moving since I could relate to it. The short advert purpose clip, I am irrevocably hooked to audio-visual treat of Zee Rangamanch Channel.

I found that I was completely fascinated by the format. Not wasting any time, I asap called Customer Service. Without confusing the agent too much I had the service set up in my set-top-box. I continued to watch the play without missing a beat while marveling at the exposure to the theatre it gave me.

All the World’s a Stage and From the Audience: A Voice!

The fourth wall of the stage is taken to another level altogether with theatre on a small screen. The fifth glass wall of perception is keenly waiting to be discovered and brought down. The fact that these days you can see a drama which is not your regular serial but sara hutt kay!

I remember in my 8th standard or grade, I played Gurth from Ivanhoe a staged play version of the novel that we did it for our Sister Elisa’s English class.

Gurth – Cedric’s swineherd, who becomes Ivanhoe’s de facto squire. Gurth longs for nothing so much as his freedom, which he finally obtains from Cedric after he helps to orchestrate the attack on Torquilstone.

Wamba – Cedric’s jester, a witty, incisive Saxon clown, whose barbed comments often mask nuggets of wry wisdom.

Source: https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/ivanhoe/characters/

My friend who played the role of Wamba (now wait was I, Wamba or Gurth?). Well, anyways I was the sidekick to the other character. I was Gurth, the swineherd who is seeking freedom. How very symbolic?

We would rehearse in all the sounds and commotion of the lunch break. I mean my classmate/friend and I were the only ones practicing for the play. While the rest of the top characters of the play were due the next week. Since the very first chapter consisted of just these two characters who set the stage up for the following scenes from other chapters.  

Fumbling with My Lines

Because the Chapter 1 of the historical novel “Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott had lines which were rather topsy-turvy. The first chapter is taken over with the scenes of conversation between Girth and Wamba. I put my heart out to do that role because for the life of me, I could never memorize my dialogue and I will always make up lines based on the rough idea and my classmate used to get furious.

Since I was fumbling with my lines. My classmate had more patience and decided to rehearse the role almost for innumerable times. I think all my classmates knew our scene by heart. Yet I felt such fun doing it exploring lines that were very funny according to me. The funnier I got with my lines; my classmate got more furious.

Her eyes during the rehearsal were worth looking at, as she was animate enough to kill me on the spot. While I was completely enjoying myself after having clearly stated that I didn’t know the D of Drama. But I tell you theatre is such a wonderful medium that you can be any of the characters and be a playwrights’ nightmare. (LOL!)

Writing Plays Not My Cuppa

I began writing to explore in my 8th Grade kept it to just couplets and four-line poems. I was exploring Creative Non-Fiction in 1988 which was more saga of sorrow with some creative perks. Of course, this helped me to get a little more focused in life. Anne’s Kitty and my diary dated more often.

So, around my Higher Secondary years, I experimented with converting a short story to a play and then it turned out that the entire drama sucked. Of course, as a hopeless Director of Stage, I couldn’t do much to even save my skin because of my foul people skills. No one listened after I kept my constant making changes to dialogue.

Sadly, my team didn’t believe in fluidity and improvisation they wanted fixed dialogues and I was working on the pieces on the go. My main character dropped out by not arriving on the curtain call moment and I had to do a solo performance of the entire drama with few people chipping in. It was a hilarious flop show. 😊

My Farewell to Arms’ Theatre Acts

I played two roles on stage, the actual stage with curtain and rigamarole for my senior’s farewell jalsa! One was for the 10th Seniors and another for 12th Seniors and all for their farewell for their next level adventure.

Since everyone had to compulsorily participate, I was roped in too. I had merely made an appearance looking like a hideous baby ghost, how I achieved it a big surprise! My classmate who was much endowed was in the role of a desperate mother seeking admission to a ghost school. I was super nervous to boot.

The second play was the role of an over-top emotional mother who is almost giving away her son in marriage and her wailing is too much, but I improvised every time. I remember rehearsing multiple times and I was different every time.

When the play happened one of the students, who was mischievous and wanted to pull my leg came forward, extending a hanky and I moved across the stage in reflex to get the hanky but then the girl hugged her handkerchief and refused to give it to me. Then when I returned to my position after realizing that I goofed up. I became stage conscious.  

But for a moment there my fellow actor was frightened shit because I am not following the script. (LOL!). Anyway, the play moved on and people had a good laugh on that incident. Given my set of issues in life at school, I had to learn to be cheerful and happy at all moments. I wouldn’t say I was always sad in school, but I had some happy moments too. Theatre had such a strong influence on my thoughts and life.

Fruits of Emotion Worn on Your Sleeve

These days when I watch a drama, I understand all that goes into the parts and how to be the presence and the soul of the play is a hard-won achievement. Kudos for the team that brought theatre to the house of all the small screen and shrinking that grandeur of theatre. The showcase theatre calls for such great directional skills and acting talents.

When I had to shift from D2H to Tata Sky, I was sad that I will never get to see Rangamanch again, but then, the Tata Sky team set up the Tata Sky Theatre for me, and there was no looking back about losing out on theatre.

Checkout Indian Theatre Online

D2H Active URL | https://www.d2h.com/activeservice/multicontenti?page=rangmanch

Tata Sky Theatre URL | https://www.tatasky.com/wps/portal/TataSky/services/tata-sky-services-entertainment/tata-sky-theatre

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