Struggling to shine

ByProma Chakraborty

May 16, 2019

While Student of the Year 2 starring star kids is running on the big screen, here’s a play that brings forth the endless struggles of actors who are yet to make their break in Bollywood

From a farmer’s son working as a chemist in Vadodara to one of the finest actors in Bollywood today, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s journey to stardom has been quite a struggle.

Graduating from the National School of Drama in 1996, he moved to Mumbai in the hope of getting a break in Bollywood – which took him almost a decade. From being an extra to acting in a few short films, he moved from studio to casting offices, till he finally bagged a big role in Black Friday (2007). However, it was not until 2012 that his breakthrough movie Gangs of Wasseypur made him an overnight star. After that, there was no looking back.

Nawazuddin is not just another actor any more, in fact, he is more of a metaphor – symbolic of countless such actors who didn’t get that one chance, who will eventually get lucky and those who are still waiting for it. Mumbai — the city of dreams is full of them, most often referred to as strugglers.

Taking you through the challenging journey of such struggling artists, Bloody Bombay is an amalgam of stories of struggle, survival and success. Directed by Happy Ranajit, the play delves into the not-so-glam side of the showbiz world through the journey of human emotions, ethics and existence.

Traveling to Mumbai for his shows or perhaps to meet his friends, it’s the frustration of the struggling actors that caught Ranajit’s attention and inspired him to write a play. “Everybody aspires to be the next Nawaz or Irrfan Khan. It is a question of an existentialism where they set out every day to land a role but come back empty handed,” he says.

Ranajit felt that such tales need to be told because  most of the stories out there are success stories of artists after they actually makes it big. “There are so many good actors who are simply not getting the right break and have been patiently waiting for so many years,” he adds.

And casting such actors in the drama is perhaps what makes his play even more sincere. Ranajit keeps it as real as possible, which is why he says that he tried his best to cast real strugglers.

Striving both on and off the stage, artists like Akash Mahamana, Mohit Raj Saxena, Harshvardhan Chaturvedi, Aditya Sinha, Anmol Dahiya, and Harshit Khatana, are not new to the world of theatre but are yet to make their mark in Bollywood. Playing the roles of struggling actors, their real-life struggles added an element of reality to the narrative.

The constant grill of auditions, casting and rejections are to an extent quite well understood by these actors and they bring such emotions to the stage effortlessly. This has definitely helped in making this drama popular.

Part of the Popular Theatre Festival by Unicorn Actors Studio, that puts together productions which have been runaway hits, Bloody Bombay could not have been performed at a better time.

Student of the Year 2, which most reviewers have simply put as “unnecessary and unwatchable” is currently running in the cinemas. For the uninitiated, this Karan Johar film casts star kids – Tiger Shroff (Jackie Shroff’s son) and Ananya Panday (Chunky Panday’s daughter), and has garnered a good number in box office, despite such reviews.

For Ranajit the examples of such films work quite well for his drama and help in driving home a point. “The play itself is about such artists who are struggling and challenging nepotism. These actors do not have a source or a godfather in the industry,” he adds.

Depicting the unsaid part of this glamorous world, the one scene that stands out the most and perhaps, sums up the entire essence of the drama, is also one of Ranajit’s favourite. “There is one point, where we perform the suicide letter of Jia Khan. This is juxtaposed with Sanjay’s speech from Mahabharat who narrates the whole catastrophe of war to Dhritarastra and draws parallel to the situation  that most actors are in Mumbai.”

So could these actors be the next Nawaz? Drop in to experience the journey of how a person becomes a star or perhaps continues struggling to become one…

The theatre festival will start from May 17 onwards at Akshara Theatre and Shri Ram Centre