Interview with Dir. Navratan Gautam by Mrinalini Ranjan (2004)

Navratan Gautam is the director of Shauriya Theater group. They have been established in Delhi for about seven years now, but he has been working in the field of theater for almost 15 years now. Extremely talented and versatile, Mr. Gautam has been actively involved in Theater since his school and college days and has won many accolades. 

I met him on a hot Tuesday afternoon in the middle of June, and had a long Q and A session with him regarding his perception of theater as it exists today, his experiences with theater as a profession and his experiences with his very own theater group-Shauriya. 

 
Q WERE YOU ALWAYS INCLINED TOWARDS THEATER ??
I was interested in theater since school itself. I did scouting till I was 13 and took part in many different plays and theater workshops, which were taking place. The school encouraged me quite a bit too. I was always encouraged to follow this stream.

Q HOW DID YOU GET INTO THEATER ??
I joined the NCC after school. I was also the secretary of the dramatic society in college. I have always worked in theater and have also done many street theater performances. I have been associated with the National School of Drama for the last 12 years.

Q HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED ANY FORMAL TRAINING IN THEATER ??
I taught at the NSD repertory and did a Diploma course from Sri Ram Center in acting. I have also done an M. Phil in Theater in Education.

Q HOW DID YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH NSD AND SRI RAM CENTER ADD TO YOUR PERFORMING ABILITIES ??
They gave me a much better exposure to professional theater. I worked with very well renowned directors. It was a highly stimulating experience for me. They teach you the various different techniques and methods associated with theater which you will not come to know otherwise.

Q DID YOU WORK IN ANY OTHER FIELD BESIDES THEATER ??
I have done a masters degree in journalism, mass communication and commerce. I have taught accounts to students in different institutions who have taken that us their subject. I have also taught in your school-Vasant Valley.

Q HOW COME YOU DECIDED TO PURSUE OTHER FIELDS WHEN YOUR REAL PASSION RESIDES IN THEATER ??
Theater does not supply you with a stable source of income. Hence having another profession is almost like a backup. It allowed me to pursue my hobby without bothering too much about expenses.

Q WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO DO PROFESSIONAL THEATER ??
I decided to do theater professionally in 1998. I decided to follow my heart and I formed my own group-Shauriya.

Q TELL ME ABOUT SHAURIYA GROUP ??
Shauriya was registered in 1998. There were many ups and downs during the running of the group, but it is now quite firmly established. There are about 70-80 members of the group presently. I partnered with Satyajit Sharma, and formed the group, focusing on sequential synchronization of education with the skill of Performing Arts. It was a bit difficult at first, but as we became more well known sponsors and volunteers began to appear themselves. But it was till pretty hard to keep the group running smoothly.

Q WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING ROLE YOU HAVE PERFORMED TILL NOW ??
I did a play called Suremukh, which is based upon the life of Lord Krishna. I played a character named Pradyum-who is meant to resemble Krishna. I found the experience extremely enjoyable and I put lots of effort into it to identify with the character and performing the required role.

Q WILL YOU ADVISE ACTING OR THEATER AS A CAREER TO ASPIRING YOUNG STUDENTS ??
No, I would not. I would advise then to take it up as a hobby, but not as a full time profession,as theater is not a very stable job. You will have to face an everyday struggle to make ends meet for a long time until you are firmly established. You require a perfect mixture of talent, luck and motivation to be in this field and succeed in establishing your goals.

Q WHAT IS THE COURSE OF ACTION YOU WOULD ADVISE TO A STUDENT WHO WANTS TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THEATRE IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER ??
I would advise them to join any particular theater group and get exposed to as much theater as they possibly can, to get the hang of things. You must make yourself financially stable before you decide to get too involved with theater.

Q DO YOU THINK FORMAL TRAINING IS REQUIRED TO PURSUE A CAREER IN THEATER ??
No, I do not think formal training is that necessary. If an individual is passionate about theater and can identify with the roles he has to perform, then formal training becomes an unnecessary or deal.

Q WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MAIN GOAL WHEN YOU PERFORM AND DIRECT ??
It has always been my endeavor to reflect the impressions I have gathered from my experiences and journey as a director on the realities of life. It has widened my perspective on life and I am able to analyse and understand myself and my actions much better.
 

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