Vijay Kumar Interview
Vijay Kumar is an actor and theatre director. He studied at National School of Drama (NSD), Film Television Institute of India (FTII) and Central School of Speech & Drama, London. He has performed in theatre plays more than a thousand times and acted in television for more than a decade.

 By Tarun Agarwal

You have done numerous plays, and made money out of it, what would you say is the most important milestone in your life that made it possible?

Two things that hold meaning for me in life are getting admission into NSD and getting the British Council Fellowship, Charles Wallace India Trust Award. The fellowship enabled me to go to England and study at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

If we talk about milestones, HUM BIHAR MEIN CHUNAO LAD RAHE HAI, has given us the maximum fame and has really helped us financially. We have performed this play more than 900 times.

How helpful is it to be part of the NSD alumni?Do you get any help being part of it?

Any training is useful and NSD provides a training that is well thought out, and the learning is imparted in detail and depth. After having studied at NSD, for the next ten years, I did plays which were associated with the institute, and that used to pay me. I worked with the extension programmes of the institute, and became part of hundreds of workshops and plays that were of great financial help. In this way, the alumni has got proven help from the institute.

What has been your most successful play?

I will mention three plays. HUM BIHAR MEIN CHUNAO LAD RAHE HAI which I have been performing for the last 27 years. RENU KE RANG gave our theatre group national recognition. Our theatre adaptation of Shrilal Shukla's novel, RAGDARBARI , has also been performed numerous times. Now we are focussing on AADHE ADHURE.

How different is it to work in theatre and television?

From 2010 to 2021, I did a lot of television. There is more purity in theatre. The television is more about ornamentation. The basic difference also lies in how we have to use your body in various types of image sizes such as in long shot and mid shot. Once that is understood, it becomes very easy to switch between theatre and television. Television challenges you to perform well within no time. For example, you have to deliver a ten-page scene within half an hour of getting the script. Naturally, some serious performers may find it painful that they are not getting adequate time to prepare. Both television and theatre provide their own unique intoxication. Television is a great medium and takes you to every household.

During the new plays that you have done, which are the writers and actors you have worked with, who have good potential?

I have almost always worked on the plays of established writers. There is no way I can comment on their potential as their work is already celebrated widely. As far as the new actors are concerned, Zeba Hussain, Vani Sharma, Ashutosh Khare, Kajol are very sincere and as they do more work in theatre, they will provide a great experience to the audiences.

What can make theatre profitable for a person?

The biggest profit is that theatre transports us to a different planet. Not in cash, but the profit we get in kind is the betterment of mankind. As far as money is concerned, Hindi drama is not so well accepted that it can be very profitable. We, the theatre professionals, have not been able to make it a staple diet for people. People hesitate to buy a ticket. Without a collective effort, this cannot be achieved.

Any concluding thoughts?

The demand for our new play, AADHE ADHURE is good. We are performing it again on August 15 and in September as part of Nehru Centre's Theatre Festival. Theatre is the highest art form. It includes all forms of art in it including writing, acting, painting, dancing, etc. I have deep respect for theatre. I wish to die performing on stage. I do every show thinking that it is the last show of my life and must give it everything.

(Tarun Agarwal is the author of Hope Factory: Business Ideas For Everyone, and has directed a short film, Honesty Weds Dishonesty. )

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