In 1999, the young Indians of the time had their first indirect contact with the war when our jawans were fighting in Kargil. On the occasion of 23 Kargil Vijay Diwas, today, some of them are paying homage to war heroes through the room, Kargil – Ek Shaurya Gaatha.
“I was in Class X, studying in Patna when the Kargil War happened,” says Ajay Kumar, an actor from the National School of Drama (NSD)’s Repertory Company. Another actor, Pooja Gupta adds: “Mai bahut chhoti this time aur mujhe kuchh yaad nahi. By aaj jab National War Memorial by repeat and perform kara toh ek alag hi jazba tha hum sab mein un jawano ko yaad karke jo Kargil war ka hissa the.
Repertory actors underwent fairly intensive training, which lasted more than a month, to portray soldiers on stage. In fact, this is probably the first time in NSD history that Indian Army personnel have become involved in training actors for a play, and even provided them with feedback during repetitions. “The actors received information on how to march in the parade and the correct way in which a senior officer gives orders to his subordinates. Jo filmon mein representation hoti hai command dene ki, waisa real mein nahi hota. Actors ko Army officers ne sikhaya ki kaise isko real rakhein”, informs Asif Ali, playwright.
However, it was not so easy to put this act in place. The performance features human pyramid formations in quick succession, actors entering via overhead hangers, and plenty of rapid onstage movement, all of which unfolds under punchy lighting and loud background music. Gupta, shares, “It was quite challenging, especially for actresses like me who are portraying male characters, and especially soldiers, for the first time. There were no female soldiers in the Kargil war, and here we represent male parties. We were trained not to feel the difference between the sexes, but that didn’t quite settle in until I got into uniform. After that, everything became different. That’s what (wearing the uniform) does to you!
The spirit of nationalism is felt and experienced by all who are part of this performance. “We celebrate Kargil Vijay Diwas every year, but as it is the 75th anniversary of our independence, I thought it was crucial to pay tribute to all our heroes, not just freedom fighters or those who sacrificed their lives to war, but also to those who still protect our country at different borders,” says Professor Ramesh Chandra Gaur, Director, NSD, adding, “Gaming is an important medium because it is live and has an impact direct, which is more than when shown in films which often use a lot of still images… We all know how we lost many of our young jawans in Kargil. This piece celebrates their fighting spirit. The script was developed in phases by playwright and director Santanu Bose. It’s not just based on a particular incident, but shows how everyone was supporting our soldiers on the war front. The hardships and situation the soldiers were facing. ats were facing such a high altitude motivate us to know how we Indians are all together whenever we go through such a crisis.
Catch it live
What: Kargil – Ek Shaurya Gaatha
Where: Abhimanch Auditorium, National School of Drama, Bhagwan Das Road
When: July 26 and 27
Time: 7 p.m.
Nearest metro station: Mandi House on the blue and purple lines
Author tweets @HennaRakheja