Clearly one of the best and versatile actors that the contemporary Indian stage can boast of, Kumud Mishra first got hooked to the theatre in the military school that he went to in Belgaum, Karnataka. He distinctly recalls two of his teachers who were then also theatre professionals. Mr. Pathare used to translate Marathi plays into Hindi while Mr. Janardhan created fairy-tale magic for the young Kumud’s eyes with Greek tragedies and Shakespearean classics. They were his earliest mentors as was his father who acted in plays himself.
After school, Kumud returned to his family in Bhopal and joined college as an Arts’ student who would eventually major in History and Political Science. Bhopal opened yet another fascinating world as far as theatre was concerned. Kumud would enthusiastically participate in different productions and worked under directors like Alok Nandan, Bansi Kaul, Alok Chaterjee, John Martin, Sachin Tiwari and Irfan Saurabh. He also worked for Prabhat Ganguly’s, ‘The Little Ballet Theatre’ and participated in the Festival of India in USSR. This was in 1989.
In 1990-91’ Kumud joined the National School of Drama (NSD). It seemed to be a natural progression for him. After his stint at the NSD from where he graduated with a diploma in Acting, Kumud gave the drama school’s repertory company a shot but it didn’t work for him. A screening test at the behest of Satyadev Dubey landed him in Mumbai. The film in question was Shyam Benegal’s The Making of the Mahatma and although Kumud was in the final audition with Rajit Kapoor, the role ultimately went to the latter. Kumud has no regrets about it though. He felt that he was not a good actor then.
Even today he has qualms about the characters that he plays. He feels that they are not up to the mark but you can be assured that the talented young man is underestimating himself. Some of his ongoing productions are Ramu Ramanathan’s COTTON 56, POLYESTER 84, Manav Kaul’s BALI AUR SHAMBHU, Satyadev Dubey’s FLIRT IN YOUR DREAMS and Swar Thounaojam’s TUREL. All very different characters but Kumud does good justice to them. He is clearly versed in the actor’s craft and is particularly gifted as a narrator as his roles in Kaul’s SHAKKAR KE PAANCH DAANE and COTTON 56…reveal. Kumud has also acted in MEDHA AND ZOOMBISH, a children’s play by Ramu Ramanathan.
Kumud feels that his move to Mumbai in 1994 was a good thing. Here in the city of big dreams he can combine his passion for the theatre with the economics of sustaining himself through assignments in television and film. In fact his recently released film 1971, in which he plays one of the soldiers who were POW during the India-Pakistan war has received good reviews. When Kumud came to Mumbai, he began his theatre work with Satyadev Dubey. A close friend of his from Bhopal lent him some money to set up himself. Kumud says he has not returned the money to date-not knowing quite how to do so. The friend was part of his intimate, like-minded circle in Bhopal where they used to discuss theatre for hours.
After doing Dubey’s SUDAMA KE CHAWAL, he got introduced to Sunil Shanbag and did plays with him. Since then there has been no looking back. Today Kumud has established himself on the Mumbai stage. He was also recently nominated in the best actor category for BALI AND SHAMBHU by the META (The Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards ) committee whose jury this year included people like Shyam Bengal, Amol Palekar and Anita Ratnam.