By. Dr. Varun Suthra
Every era and society has some nonconformists who have an inbuilt mechanism to revitalize and revolutionize the area of work they pick.
Call them mavericks or obsessives it's something words can't exactly define their personality. One such extraordinary person who has proved his mettle every now and then is Vikram Sharma.
Born and raised in Jammu, Vikram has hugely contributed towards modern theatre. His experiments of fusion theatre with Greek tragedies embedded in an Indianised way have got him global acclamation and love of the audience. Following are few excerpts from my detailed discussion with Vikram during the lockdown days.
Dr. Varun Suthra: Vikram tells me what exactly brought you to theatre and the reason for coming out of conventional forms. How you broke those walls and created your own castle.
Vikram Sharma: My leanings and aptitude towards theatrics, being inborn, propelled me since my childhood to participate in dramatic activities from the school level and have been following me from the past thirty years without fail. I joined a theatre group Shivani Cultural Society® in 1985 and started my journey in theatrics with participation in many stage shows related to drama productions as an actor.
Dr. Varun Suthra: Share a few of your milestones achieved in your journey so far.
Vikram Sharma: Received first State academy Merit Award in 1990 for a play performed in Annual Drama
Competition of Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture, and Languages. Awarded Junior Fellowship in ‘Theatre Development” by Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Was honored by the then chief minister Jb. Farooq Abdullah for getting “Best Actor Award” for the play “Othello” performed in state academy competition in 1994.
Awarded by the then His Excellency Governor K V Krishna Rao for getting “Best Production” award for play Raktbeej performed in state academy competition in 1996. Awarded with Best Director honor for the play Haadsa; Haqeeqat! by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture, and Languages. Awarded with Best Actor honor for the play “In Camera” by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. Awarded with third Best Documentary Award by the then Culture Minister Raman Bhalla made on the fellow journalist Ashok Sodhi who laid down his life in the line of duty covering Samba terrorist attack entitled “Caliemondy Revisited”
Have been on the panel of Judges for the adjudication of theatre competition organized by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages. Have been on the panel of judges for the adjudication of “Display Your Talent” organized by the University of Jammu. The offered shoot of daily soap “ Crime Patrol’ for Sony TV by Optimistixs has scripted, produced, and directed the state’s first feature film on the communal brotherhood of Jammu and Kashmir on the backdrop of 2008 Amarnath land row and Kashmir riots entitled “ Nashemann ”.
Dr.Varun Suthra: How come a theatric by heart turns into a successful scribe? Please give us some insight as it seems quite interesting and inspiring.
Vikram Sharma: I took my professional journey with journalism and took into my stride both theatre and dramatics as part of my professional undertakings which I have been religiously pursuing through various activities which include all aspects of drama performed, executed and critically analyzed through the print medium. Presented my thesis work as Theatre “Development in World” as a requirement for the fulfillment of the award of the Diploma in Journalism.
As a journalist started the local daily “The State Times’ in 1998 as a culture reporter and covered holistically the state’s theatre development and the drama scenario of the state.
As a correspondent with Hindustan Times pursued theatrical activities as an actor and also acted in many local, national and foreign origin theatre works of great playwrights. Have articles published in various local and national media on theatre activities of the state, nation, and foreign also.
Dr. Varun Suthra: Please share something, we can call Vikram Special.
Vikram Sharma: Besides, I have been pursuing the theatre works in acting, writing, producing, and directing various dramas on different and topical social-political and other allied issues.
The quench to tread the winning streak of dramaturgical milieu, my insight into the contemporary and innovative idiom of theatre has borne me fruits. Besides having a long list of awards and recognitions in my kitty, I am recognized by the critical elite theatre observers of the state to have carved a novel niche in the theatre execution, seldom ever tried by any on national scene even.
Critically acclaimed as First writer, producer, and director of the country to have performed a prequel and sequel of a dramatic performance in state academy competition clinching nine Academy Awards in ADF. Critically acclaimed as First Theatre director of the country to have introduced the concept of “Restaurant Theatre” in Jammu and Kashmir under a dramatic model of “Theatre of Convenience’.
First Theatre actor and director of the state to have produced an English Play in the Annual Drama Festival/ Competition and awarded Best Actor.
First Theatre Director of the state to have performed the critical and topical issues of rapes, murders, and disasters through theatre performances. The subjects included “ Main Damini Bol Rahi Hun, Sarabjit Calling, and Jannat Speaks. First theatre performer of the state to initiate “theatre competitions’ in the region inviting various theatre groups for performance and awarded them with cash rewards.
First theatre worker of the state to have organized 15-days National Theatre Festival entitled “ Rangleela Natya Utsav-2019” as Patron and Advisor.
Dr. Varun Suthra: So credit for many maiden works goes to you. Would you like to share your academic distinctions?
Vikram Sharma: I have done Bachelor in Commerce, Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management from Indira Gandhi National Open University, Diploma in management from Indira Gandhi National Open University and Diploma in Journalism from Bhavan’s Institute, Mumbai.
Dr. Varun Suthra: Finally, speak your heart what exactly you want to accomplish.
Vikram Sharma: I feel blessed and happy and wish to continue the same way. I would follow this road until my last breath. No matter where it takes.
The interviewer is an acclaimed scholar, playwright, media activist, author, and environmental activist presently residing in Mumbai.