An Open Letter to the Cast of Tales of Conflict

Dear all,

I’m writing this to you as there is only a week left to the show and there are a few things I want to share with you. The last 3 months have been quite a rollercoaster and I am very proud of all of you that you’ve made it this far. It’s not easy, you know? Between uni, deadlines and our own personal lives, the stress of this play is the last thing we all needed. But you all stuck it out and did some great progress!

I know that when it comes to direction, I can be a bit mean and ruthless. All those physical exercises and all day rehearsals…yeah you know what I mean. But you should also know that I only push you because I know you’re capable of better acting and you have the potential to improve your skills. With the little bit of experience that I have, I know it’s a cruel world out there for artistes and should any of you decide to pursue theatre in the future, I want you to be prepared. So, it’s better that you hear criticisms from me than some other director and be de-motivated. In this field, it takes years to build confidence and only a few seconds for it to be shattered.

The progress you all have made since February is remarkable. Having worked with you guys for the past 2 years, I can honestly say that I am so impressed with how well each and every one of you has improved their acting and ability to perform. Helge, I try not to be biased but your acting is impeccable and with a bit more training, you have the potential to make it big! Karolina, your character is one that everyone will remember because of the amount of dedication you’ve put in! Laurence, I’ve never seen so much focus on bringing a character – from dialogues to minor gestures, I’m stunned! Jessica, it’s probably the first time I’ve seen you play such a different character and may I say, absolutely fantastic! It’s as if this character is made for you! Paulyn, who knew you could act as well as you dance! I’m shocked (in a good way of course)! Tobi, the enthusiasm you bring out through your character is refreshing and I hope you continue to entertain audiences as you’ve done in this play.

To the cameo actors/dancers; Oona, Chris, Aaron, Stephen, Louis, Nina and Harry – it has been an absolute honour to work with you, I thank you for your time and commitment towards the project and you have all talent worth exploring!

Finally, to my co-director, co-writer, part time therapist and full time best friend, Minh. None of this would’ve been possible without your vision. All the late night calls, countless hours of planning and immense hard work that you’ve put into it; it’s all going to pay off next week. I’m so proud to have collaborated with you on this project and I’m sure the entire team at White Noise feels the same. Your optimism, energy, aura, ridiculous stubbornness – this is what is going to make the play special for me. Next week, the audience will see the result of two crazy Sagittarians working together. You’re a wonderfully talented director and I hope we get to collaborate for bigger projects in the future.

So before I end the letter, I want you all to know how much each of every one of you mean to me and this play along with all its memories is something I will cherish forever. And in the future, should any of you pursue theatre, White Noise Productions will always have a role for you. Good luck to all of you for the show and let’s kick ass! And remember, sky’s the limit so clip your wings back on, learn to fly again and soar as high as you want.

 

Love,

Deb 🙂

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Live Like You Rule the Damn World.

“Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack.”

This quote resonates with me quite a lot, especially these days. I want to dedicate this post to all those badass, independent people out there who live life on their own terms and do not give a shit about anyone else’s opinion. Such people, I believe are the most fierce kind out there and I want to take the next few minutes to share why you should do nothing but live like you rule the goddamn world.

The first person that pops to mind when I think of badass is my mother. Between her hectic career, her marriage and her children, she has left no stone unturned to make the most of her 24 hours a day. We’ve seen some tough days and we’ve seen some glorious days and the one lesson I take from her is to never give up until you’re completely spent. She has managed to balance all aspects of her life and still make time to help me with my homework so well. I like to think that I’ve inherited her workaholic nature because most of my days consist of 20 hours of work and surprisingly, I manage to last several days without sleep (until I finally give in to the hallucinations!)

Personally? I think I’ve undergone a major transformation since I moved to USA in 2006. My one prime quality that I’ve nurtured over the years is my confidence. Now I’m talking about the good old days where I had no friends, no weekend plans and no hobbies. Add to that, I was a fat and nerdy Bollywood buff who preferred to stay indoors and binge watch movies. I think a major part to my change has been theatre; it’s given me the confidence to actually make eye contact with the world. And today, if there’s one thing I’m proud of, it’s the fact that I can walk into a room full of strangers and make myself seen. There’s a very fine line between attention-seeking and confidence – you just need the right recipe.

What I want to convey to each of you reading this, there is nothing more beautiful than someone who isn’t afraid to speak their mind and shine through their soul. It takes a lot of courage to follow your dreams, no matter how big or small they are. It takes guts to not conform to all that society has to say. I’m so proud of each of you who have taken this step, especially those who cannot be confined within a box of norms. So go out there, show them what you’re really made of and most importantly, live like you rule the damn world.

2015 – The Year That Changed My Life

So it’s not exactly a timely post but nonetheless, I’d like to share with all my lovely readers why 2015 changed my life. Like every other year, when I opened Facebook on 1st January 2016, my news feed was flooded with posts about how 2015 had been to my friends. Some people cherished the year gone by, others complained about it. I, for one, had extremely mixed feelings. I’ll tell you why. It will most probably sound like a speech but read it anyway.

2015 has been an extremely odd year for me. As I turned 20 on 25th November, I felt like I left behind a huge part of me. I left behind some innocence, some spontaneity and some youth. Now, I feel like I’ve stepped into a new skin. It’s amazing how I feel like a totally different person; more mature, more confident, a little more silent and maybe a little wiser.

As far as university is concerned, I finished my first year and moved onto my second. I feel so grown up, I can’t even begin to describe. I’ve been entrusted with more responsibility, not only towards my degree but also towards my experience as a university student. I met new people, some who have forever etched their names in my soul and some who were only there briefly but taught me invaluable lessons. I shifted to another flat on my uni campus and I’ve met the most amazing, fierce and diverse bunch of flatmates and I’ve a feeling that the bond will last way beyond our time here. I partied a lot more and I studied a lot more. I didn’t think it would be this easy for me to settle into a topsy-turvy routine (see the irony there?). Not kidding.

My work, as an actor, writer and photographer – 2015 was perfect. I started the year celebrating a successful show of play that will eternally be my favourite and ended the year performing a show in my university which White Noise was so proud to be a part of it – WNP finally made it to the UK! Somewhere in between, I finally executed one of my first scripts; Crimson. Sold out show + critically acclaimed – I couldn’t ask for more. I also finally got a chance to make it to the big screen as I acted in my very first feature film ever! I’ll save the details for another post. My other venture, Black Pixel – it was a dream come true for me. So many new models, assignments and brands that I practically woke up to a flooded inbox every morning!

I lost some friends this year and I found some old friends as well. And as I ended the year at home, in my mother’s lap, I realised how far I had come in just 365 days. Shortly before I returned to resume my studies in London, I made a quick trip to Mumbai which was another life-changing experience on its own. To be reunited with your oldest and closest friends is best possible therapy one could ever need.

On 31st December, at 11:59pm, I acknowledged how kind “Santa” had been to me. Although I had many reasons to be upset and complain, I chose to dwell on the positive things that happened to me in the past year. I’m extremely thankful to all those who made it to 2016 with me because they made me realise that I maybe extremely flawed but there are people out there who love me because of my flaws, not despite them.

So I’m writing this to remind all of you that it is so much easier to focus on the negative things and crib about how we can’t live normal, stress-free lives but, it is these setbacks that make us appreciate and cherish the good memories. Truth is, we may never have a normal stress-free life because we as human beings never stop aspiring. These aspirations make us greedy which isn’t always a bad thing but we must realise that everything comes with a price. So take a moment to slow down and think about how good 2015 and all the past years have been to you. Believe me, you’ll welcome the coming years with open arms.

 

Till next time readers.

Crimson – Director’s Cut

If you know me, you will know that all I can talk about these days is my upcoming play, Crimson. But before the play hits the stage, I want to give my readers a small insight into why this play means the world to me. Firstly, some small facts about the play:

– It’s the first script I’ve ever written

– The script took 6 years to be completed

– It’s an extremely disturbing and grotesque play, yet it’s a total entertainer

– As many as 20 people auditioned for this play (probably more than I’ve ever auditioned or will ever audition)

– It’s WNP’s second production

– For the first time, WNP has an official review partner

– For the first time, WNP will be releasing a trailer for this play

– Crimson was originally called ‘Untitled’

– The script has undergone as many as 60 drafts before being finalized.

Now that you know some quirky facts, let me tell why I’m writing this post in the first place. As I’ve mentioned before on numerous occasions, I’d like to think that I live and breathe theatre; it means the world to me. I feel incomplete without it and I know all theatre artists would agree with me. I took my own sweet time trying to write Crimson before I could show a draft to my business partner and co-director, Pallav. Prior to Crimson, I used to only blog or write poems and short stories. Truth be told, I never had an interest in writing till the age of 12 and it was my brother who got me hooked onto writing (he writes brilliant screenplays by the way).

On a more personal note, these days when I go to bed, I thank my lucky stars to have found a place for myself in this field. This play is one which I feel I have nurtured to make it what it is today. Yes, I’m only 19 and that may be pretty evident in my writing but when 45 year olds come up to you and tell you that it’s well written; now that’s a kickass feeling. I feel extremely fortunate to have entered the theatre field early and found appreciation. I feel even more fortunate to have found my co-CEO to be Pallav who is a gem of a person and a genius at work. I’m extremely happy that White Noise has the privilege of collaborating with the prestigious Curtain Call Productions and its owner, Vishesh who has placed unconditional faith in us; encouraging newcomers into such a competitive field is probably one of the best things anyone can do.

This play is still in its developing stages but I’m already grateful to my entire cast for accepting such a challenging script; it’s not easy to execute a dark play, it’s worse working with a 19-year old hyperactive perfectionist. Whether they are the lead actors or the supporting cast, hats off them for placing their faith in WNP. Of course, I cannot forget my backbone, the core team of White Noise – these are the people who work silently behind the scenes to support Pallav and me in our vision. As a playwright, the best feeling is someone standing on stage, speaking your words – nothing can replace this feeling.

The main reason for writing this post is to dedicate Crimson. Because this script especially is so personal and close to my heart, I want this play to be a tribute to every single person out there who has supported my ridiculous obsession with theatre. Crimson is for my school friends who would sit and listen to my ideas during lunchtime. Crimson is for my theatre colleagues who made me realize that age is not and will never be a boundary in doing what you love. Crimson is for my cast and crew of ‘She’ who placed their bets on me when no one else would. Crimson is for my cast and crew of this play who supported my vision. Crimson is for my family who held my hand throughout the journey. Crimson is for every individual who believed I could.

Finally, Crimson is for my audience who have nothing but unconditional love for me.

This post is extremely selfish but I had to get this off my chest. I feel that simply saying “thank you” would not be gratitude enough for all you wonderful people because I’m nothing without you. So, I’m eternally grateful to you for supporting my journey for over a decade and never losing faith in me.

One last thing, if you’re in Delhi this August, make sure you come and see Crimson! I spent an entire post ranting about it so wouldn’t you wanna satiate your curiosity? If you’re a creative soul, this play will be a treat for you and I promise, will leave you speechless. This August, romance gets a new meaning.

Dream big. Stay humble. Always.

Till next time, readers.

The 19 Year Old Playwright

If I haven’t bragged about it enough, I’m currently drowning in the sea of theatre. And enjoying it too. Recently, I wrote and co-directed a play with Pallav in Delhi called She. It was about women’s issues and how they cope with our infamous society. The play went really well, got critically acclaimed, great response from the general audience and theatre artists. The play got featured in many well-known newspapers such as The Times of India, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, etc. Amidst all this surfaces quite a funny story about me. But first, let’s talk about She.

The play was born in a restaurant. I really have to thank Kanchanji (one of the most fabulous directors I’ve ever worked with) because it was at the rehearsals of her play that my “claim to fame” began. She is a play which in my personal opinion is probably one of the best ways to debut in theatre as a writer and director. It’s a play (like I’ve already mentioned) which deals with injustice to women. Three stories, countless lives, one voice. If you weren’t in Delhi, you missed out BIG TIME because I don’t think anyone walked out of the auditorium disappointed. If anything, most of the audience praised the play and the concept. Not to sound arrogant but I feel quite proud that my tiny, fucked up head combined with the double fucked up mind of Pallav could create something like this.

So why is this titled “The 19 Year Old Playwright”? Well, She featured in several newspapers and online blogs, etc and it was quite funny that I wasn’t referred to by my name but rather as the 19 year old playwright. Now, me? Playwright? Come on, please. I’m hardly a writer, much less a playwright. But it did help me realise one thing; that you’re never too young or old to do anything, especially follow your dreams.

I’ve always considered theatre as my first love and like many out there, it is my dream, goal, aim – whatever you call it to reach that peak where the world knows me a great actor, director; whatever I choose to finally pursue. I want to leave a legacy behind. I want to work with Bollywood’s and Hollywood’s top actors and directors. And the fact that I was called the 19 year old playwright made me realise that people’s opinions are shifting. Yes, many people questioned me that how could I, being a kid, write, co-direct and co-produce a full fledged production? Yes, many people were amazed at the final result. But no longer do you have to be a certain age or have certain qualifications to achieve all those milestones you’ve set for yourself. Your journey starts the day you want it to, not when others decide.

I was often told as a kid that theatre was a waste of time and should only be restricted to a hobby. I was also told that I could never operate a camera properly because I wasn’t good at technical stuff and handling equipment. But I followed my dream and took it seriously anyways. And 11 years later, here I am, with two companies and surrounded by wonderful people who genuinely appreciate my work. I’m surrounded by people who want to work with me. My point is, if you want to do something, today is the day to start it. Don’t wait till you’ve completed your education or worse, till you retire because truth is, you never know how long you’re here. It could be for another 100 years, it could be for a few minutes. Time, achievements, qualifications, what people say shouldn’t matter – in fact, it shouldn’t even be a factor for following your passion. If you’ve always wanted to be a candlestick maker then do it!

Now, some things may not work out but you’ll never realise until you try. I never knew I could be a photographer if I didn’t hold a camera. If I never got up on stage, I wouldn’t be an actor. I would just be another restless soul roaming around on this planet. I may not have achieved everything, but I have made a start. And I’m happy with that, for now.

So go ahead, write that book, open that restaurant, publish that poem that’s been gathering dust on your shelf for all these years. Believe in yourself. Because if a 19 year old hyperactive kid like myself can do it, you definitely can. Don’t dismiss your dreams just yet. It’s never too late.

Scotland Yard – The Experience

Thursday afternoon, 2:30pm, outside St James Park tube station in London were 6 people, dressed in formals, each juggling a laptop in their arms. 5 assistants, 1 researcher. Among the 6, the shortest, a little bit dazed, wrapped up in a mountain of woolens, freezing in minus 2 degrees Celsius was me, ready for one of the greatest experiences of my life. Why was I here? Well, let’s backtrack a bit.

During my winter holidays (which were not too long ago), I received an email from my professor which read that he was conducting some research on super-recognisers (smart people stuff) and needed some assistants for the experiment. The first time I read it, I almost dismissed it because I already had so much work, I didn’t need another hassle. Then, I read the email again and only two words made sense to me: Scotland Yard. My professor was offering me an experience at Scotland Yard. I didn’t bother to read further or any other details. I immediately replied and that’s how my CV became badass overnight.

Now Scotland Yard, we all know about it right? Sherlock Holmes, movies and whatnot. But it is so much more than that. It is a universe on its own. As you walk through the double sliding doors, it’s as if you’ve entered another realm. As stunning as it looks on the exterior, it is just as breathtaking on the inside. At first, it’ll look like any other corporate office but if you look closely, Scotland Yard has an aura and especially for a psychology major like myself, it managed to weave in a bit of magic in those two days. The people, the environment, the bits of conversation you pick up as you walk through the corridors, they manage to leave you with tiny lessons about life. Back to my story.

Like i said, I was assisting my professor on his research and we tested roughly 100 senior officers. Now I’ll admit, in the span of two days, I only managed to experience two conference rooms but let me tell you, they were nothing short of exquisite. State-of-the-art technology, amazing interiors and just the fact that I was at Scotland Yard was a pretty big deal for me. I spent my childhood reading about it in novels but to experience it live, it was just…wow.

Now I’m a theatre fanatic but Scotland Yard managed to bring out the inner psychologist in me. I got to learn so much, meet some amazing people and work with a team of geniuses. Not just the place but the project opened my eyes to the importance of psychology in real life. It made me realise that we often take a police officer’s job for granted. They put so much at stake and undergo so many problems just to ensure that we get a good night’s sleep. And they have many important roles other than just managing traffic or guarding reputed establishments. They are important. And we should learn to respect them a bit more.

Psychology too, is important. A huge percentage of people do not value it or even consider it as a science. Without psychology, you wouldn’t know half the stuff you do. Don’t dismiss it as an additional subject just because it’s not making headlines everyday like our natural sciences and technology. Psychology doesn’t advance a few steps, it leaps beyond boundaries ever imagined. Parents should not discourage their children from wanting to study it; it is a fascinating subject with so many opportunities. Psychology opens up a world of possibilities unknown till you explore the subject. Scotland Yard is just one of them. From working with detectives to counselling patients, you can apply psychology anywhere.

To sum it up, Scotland Yard taught me a lot. A little bit of work, a little bit of fun, a lifetime of knowledge. Till next time readers.

Let Me – My Attempt at Poetry!

Hey guys so again I’ve been away for a while but I wanted to share my very first poem with you all that I wrote 6 years ago. I hope you all like it and give me tons of feedback! Now obviously, it doesn’t rhyme but hey, I thought poetry didn’t have any boundaries! I would love your feedback on it and hopefully if the response is good, I’ll publish my book of poems that I’ve been wanting to for a while now. Let’s just say that along with being a writer, actor and director, I kind of want to be a self-proclaimed poet as well. This is my resolution for 2015. So, here goes nothing:

Let me laugh out the fears I had yesterday and the pains I will live with tomorrow.

Let the waves of silence fill the room.

Let me kiss you till my lips are stained and bleeding.

Let me engulf you and steal all your senses.

Let me hold you close and love you like I could never love myself.

Let me feel your breath tickling my back as you sleep soundlessly against my chest.

Let the sun shine with a new day so I can believe that you will still be here, right next to me.

Let me patronize you like your aged mother and admonish you like your stern father.

Let me protect you like an older brother and cook for you like your younger sister.

Let me hold you close and love you like I could never love myself.

Let me caress your cheek and tell you that it’s okay to cry.

Let me rip out a page and tell you a joke.

Let me believe that you’re mine, even if only for a night.

Let me explore every inch of your body.

Let me hold you close and love you like I could never love myself.

Let me sing in the shower and dance in the rain.

Let me fix your tie and iron your suit.

Let me make your bed and lay out your favourite nightsuit.

Let me, for a change, take you out on a date.

Let me hold you close and love you like I could never love myself.