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Exclusive interviews with artistes of The Park's THE OTHER FESTIVAL

Arjun Raina (New Delhi)
'A terrible beauty is born' - A stand up tragedy on Dec 6, 2004

November 4, 2004
Arjun Raina has trained as an actor at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Through 90's he trained as a Kathakali dancer with Guru Sadanam Balakrishanan. He has taught Voice and Acting at the National School of Drama. In a span of 15 years, Raina has acted in and directed about a 100 productions in English as well as Hindi. These include western classics like Shakespeare, Shaw, Pinter and Stoppard, as well as Indian plays like Tughlaq, Sanskar ko Namaskar and Aaya Naya Savera. He is a translator and writer of short stories and plays.

Raina played the title part in 'In which Annie gives it those ones', a film written by Arundhati Roy and directed by Pradip Krishen, 'The Mandal Conspiracy' (for Italian TV), 'Electric Moon' (for Channel 4), and 'Saanjh', a film directed by Sabrina Dhawan.

A terrible beauty is born is a play about International call centers in India. Set in both New York, USA and Gurgaon, India, this play explores a relationship between an old American lady Elizabeth in New York and her telephonic credit card dues collector who she knows as John. Through this relationship we discover this strange new world of fake accents and identities. Right till the end of the play, Elizabeth thinks John is an American while in reality he is Ashok Mathur calling from Gurgaon with a fake name, accent and identity.

How did you go about evolving your style of theatre, combining Indian and western elements?
I don't consciously seek any difference between any notion of Indian and western. All my work comes from me and is a very essential part of me. It is my expression. If there are separate elements to be seen within it, then they exist within me.

Your current work for The Other Festival seems to reflect political and socially sensitive issues. What triggered an interest in this subject?
My father was a naxalite when I was a child. Political consciousness is a return to childhood for me. And for an artist, childhood is the real trigger to creativity.

What message do you wish to convey through this work?
All workers in Indian call centers must have their own names. It is critical to their sense of self and identity.

Do artistes run the risk of being termed didactic or militant when they take up social or environmental issues? Your comments.
If the artist is really serious and possessed by the subject, this is an irrelevant concern.

What is good or lacking in the current theatre scenario in India?
More of my performances!!!!