Deepak Kumar is a very well known name in the Theatre Industry of Jammu and Kashmir. He started theatre as a performer in 1977 and since then he has worshiped theatre. Though he is a government employee but his life revolves around theatre and anyone who knows him knows that. In a tete-e-tete with U4UVoice, Deepak talks about the past, present and future of Theatre in Jammu.
U4UVoice: First of all many congratulations for winning Duggar Award in theatre category. How do you feel?
Deepak: I am feeling good. You always feel good when somebody recognizes your work. But with these awards comes the responsibilities. The responsibility to work harder, the responsibility to deliver better.
U4UVoice: You were a science student. Now, you are a full-fledged theatre person. Did it take you long to realise your passion for theatre and cinema?
Deepak: This is not true. I was an artist since childhood. I started theatre after my matriculation. During my graduation in Meerut University, I was exposed to the theatre culture of Utter Pradesh as I used to go watch theatre in Delhi and Lucknow almost everyday. After completing my studies, I came back to Jammu in 1984 and established my own theatre group here with the name Rangyug. I am pursuing my passion since then.
U4UVoice: What are the hardships you faced while establishing yourself as a theatre person in Jammu?
Deepak: I was not a trained artist from some institute when I started. Learning from my mistakes, observing other people in the industry and reading were the only ways I had to become a better theatre person. The biggest challenge was to keep updated about what all is happening in the world of theatre. Following what the world is doing, I worked on all kind of plays from foreign to folk. This helped me in understanding the technicalities of this business.
U4UVoice: After working for so many years, do you think the theatre in Jammu has changed?
Deepak: When I started, theatre was more of a worship. People used to treat theatre as a religion. Money was not even a part of it. We used to collect donations for our plays. But now things have changed. Theatre has now become a medium of earning money. This is the biggest change that has evolved in this culture.
However, this has a positive aspect too. With the inculcation of consumerism, well trained and educated people are now being involved in the business and theatre is being done with more seriousness.
U4UVoice: Your comment for theatre as a business proposition in Jammu?
Deepak: I am amazed by this fact. I can never think of theatre as a business proposition. For me, theatre is and has always been a collective art. However, there are some people who have converted from theatre directors into theatre managers. These people have managed to make money through government grants and sponsorships. But for me, the right way of making money from theatre is by selling tickets. This is the meaning of real professional theatre.
U4UVoice: Is theatre really popular among the young generation of Jammu?
Deepak: For today’s generation, theatre is a medium for self exploration and personality development. Participating in theatre can impart confidence in you and can help you in becoming a better human being.
U4UVoice: You have performed in Pakistan in 2005, how was the experience with the audience there?
Deepak:. I performed a Dogri play there. The name of my play was “Aaley”. It was one of the most wonderful experiences. We got so much love from people there. I remember there was old lady who had come to watch the play with her kids. After watching the play, she came to me and while talking to me, she started crying. When I asked, she said that she was the resident of Basholi and she heard her mother tongue Dogri after a very long time which brought tears in her eyes.
U4UVoice: Even at present times, theatre is not seen as a full-fledged career. What will you say about that?
Deepak: Theatre can be seen as a career provided that our society has that kind of awareness. For the people of Jammu and Kashmir, theatre is a mode of entertainment which is free of any cost. This is a bad news but I am hopeful because the pace with which Jammu and Kashmir is developing, the day is not very far when theatre will be seen as a career option in our state.
U4UVoice: Who has been your inspiration?
Deepak: There is no particular name. I have worked with some big names of theatre in Jammu like Habib Tanveer, Vijaya Mehta and many other and I learnt from all of them. Besides, life has inspired me a lot. If you are keen observer, life will teach you new things every day. All you got to do is keep your slate clean.
U4UVoice: What are the further plans for Rangyug?
Deepak: Rangyug was in hibernation for sometime but now I have decided to start working here regularly. I have also decided to redesign and expand the theatre so that people can come and watch plays here.
U4UVoice: Dogri Feature Films are into market these days, are you planning one?
Deepak: I make documentaries but not real feature films. I am not even planning that right now but if I make one it is going to be a realistic film that will address the problem related to life here. I will never be a commercial movie.
U4UVoice: Writing, Acting or Direction..Which is your favourite?
Deepak: I started as actor and I will always be an actor first then a director and then a playwright.
U4UVoice: Your message for our readers
Deepak: There are no shortcuts in Life. For excelling in anything, you have show dedication and work hard. Dream because the most dreadful thing in the world is the death of our dreams.