Q's Countdown

Q's Countdown

10 of Bombay's Most Freelancing Actors

There was a time when actors worked religiously with particular groups. Either by choice or design, you could go to a play and expect the same faces in each production under the group banner. My how things have changed! Recently while trying schedule rehearsals for one of our shows, I felt like a air traffic controller - trying to not only juggle people's dates, but making sure it doesn't clash with other groups shows and rehearsals. It was easier to call up the directors and haggle with them for time than the actors. It got me thinking. Today a theatre actor is a creative mercenary, trying to ensure that s/he is always acting. What is really interesting and exciting is that actors are choosing to work with different groups and directors. In the absence of formalised drama schools, the Bombay theatre actor creates his or her own. Different style, different genres, different characters. While it might seem selfish, what the shared pool of actors has done is brings groups together to share. Not just actors but resources and skills. So here goes ten of the busiest mercenaries in the city:

  1. The list has to be led by Shivani Tanksale - the Queen of the freelancers. Consistently for the last 3 years she has been involved in no less than 5 productions at one time. Let's look at her plate right now: For AKvarious she is in All About Women and Special Bond 2. For them she also directs and acts in Namak Mirch and Shehenshah of Azeemo. For QTP she is in The President is Coming and Some Girl(s). For Rangbaaz she just opened Ishq Naam Ke Guzre The Ek Buzurg. And as if that's not enough she is now part of Prime Time Theatre Co.'s soon to be opened Love on the Brink, directed by Lillette Dubey. Add to that productions with Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal's Poorbox Theatre Company, Sundeep Sikcand, Ekjute and others, it is a wonder how she manages it all.

  2. Close on Shivani's heels is Dilnaz Irani. Lots of work with us (Project S.t.r.i.p., President is Coming and Crab) and Poorbox (Vagina Monologues, Yoni Ki Kahani, Lift Karade), she is also working with Ansh in Korodon Mein Ek and numerous ACE Productions'. She is also a regular with Rehaan, although her theatrical journey started with RAGE's path-breaker I'm Not Bajirao.

  3. Anand Tiwari, best known as the Jaago Re Campaign Guy has begun to develop a property normally reserved for directors or theatre groups. People come to watch him. Not the play. Not the director. But him. Of late he has become phenomenally busy bagging diverse roles with numerous groups. Another one from President is Coming, he is also in RAGE's One On One, is superb as the transvestite in AKvarious' All About My Mother and has received strong acclaim in Arpana's (or is it Zero Theatre's) Dreams of Taleem.

  4. Namit Das is the next on the list, and is also from the President... gang. From his humble beginnings from St. Xavier's, he then thrived under Atul Kumar's physical style of performance at the Company Theatre. And now is in Cinematograph's Hamlet the Clown Prince, Akvarious' Shehenshah of Azeemo, and apparently helped produce Aranya's Park. Along the way he has worked also with Chandan Roy Sanyal's Proscenium Theatre,

  5. Zafar Karachiwala has been the everyman of Bombay theatre for very long. He was pretty much the first real freelance actor. He rotates seamlessly between a few pet groups - Rage, Prime Time, ACE and QTP. At present he is Rahul da Cunha's Chaos Theory and Class of 84 and Lillete Dubey's Brief Candle.

  6. Discovered by Atul Kumar in National College, Neil Bhoopalam has become a regular on the Bombay stage. His VJ status notwithstanding, people queue up to see his 'Thriller' dance in Hamlet and his multiple characters in Project S.t.r.i.p. Recently he has worked regularly with Rage as well in Me, Cash & Cruise and also One On One.

  7. The one man repertory of Aranya, Kumud Mishra, has also spread his wings and begun to work with other directors and groups. For Aranya he is in Shakkar Ke Paanch Daane, Red Sparrow, Ilhaam and Peele Scooterwala Aadmi. For the rest he features in Cotton 56, Polyester 84 (Arpana) and the soon to be premiered Love On The Brink (Prime Time).

  8. There was a time when Prithvi Theatre could easily be mistaken for Trishla Patel's own private performance space. There was not a week that went by that didn't feature her. She has regularly worked (and works) with Satyadev Dubey, Akvarious and Ranga.

  9. An actor at large, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, is a rare spirit. Although most of her work is with Akvarious, she also works with Makarand Deshpande's Ansh, Raell Padamsee's ACE and us at QTP.

  10. Abhishek Saha may not be in the same league as those above. But he heads the next generation of freelancers. At present he is rehearsing for Working Title 2.0's new production, is acting in Proscenium's Chuggadham Symphonie, acting & directing in First Ray's Bali, directing a show for Theatre Professionals and another one for Thespo.