The calling card of a creative person is the spirit of innovation and exploration, rebellion and agitation against the conventional. Like any other art form, theatre has been, for the most part, driven by the younger talent in terms of bringing in a fresh perspective and changing it with newer ideas of execution, content, and other aspects. Whenever such a young talent driven by passion and commitment appears on the scene, it certainly portends a new hope and vigour to the theatre scenario.
Roheet Verma, with impressive debut home-town production of the play ‘Hamid’ on August 13, 2018, at Abhinav Theatre, not only stamped his status as a stalwart-in- the making but his quick progress from an amateur to a truly loved thespian.
His easy manner, down to earth countenance and commitment to a theatre idiom rooted in pan-Indian ethos has won hearts and loyalty of a good number of young armatures actors, many of whom after long association with Winter Capital’s leading theatre groups,are excited to be part of Roheet Verma’s group in the making.
Theatre by its nature is a collaborative art form that requires a leader. Most of the times, such leader is a director. It is very rarely that the writer/playwright is the leader. Roheet Verma is one such team leader.
A post-graduate in theatre trained in the Academy of Theatre, University of Mumbai, he has already won accolades as a creative playwright for forging a unique genre of ‘interpretation’ drama scripts that seek to re-present lives of famous personalities and characters and even classic plays so as to add a new and unthought-of dimensions to the otherwise taken for granted narratives.
His play scripts which have already been staged at Mumbai include Coin, Hamid, and Do Duni Char-based on Shakespeare’s Othello, Hamlet and Comedy of Errors respectively and Zakham on the story by Mohan Rakesh. His other achievements as playwright are Pain-guest (Guest in Pain), Corporate Chanakya, Exit Please (take on Sartre’s play No-Exist), Gudiya Azad (Solo for Female ), Kisi Ke Intzar Mein (Solo for Male), Modern Kunju Chanchalo, 18 hours, Pehali Si Mahobbat, Juliet ke Intzar Mein, Qaid-e-Hiyat (on life of Ghalib) et al.
What sets Roheet Verma apart from others of his ilk, including the academically trained contemporaries and stalwart honorary / full-fledgeddirectors/ managers of other theatre groups-is his music background and clearunderstanding and scope of theatre music, which incidentally is one of the defining components of the production designs of his ‘musical’ plays.
Born in 1987, in the middle class family of Kanta Verma and Romesh Chander Verma, who worked in Government Printing Press, Roheet Verma, his two elder sisters, brother and a younger ssssister, lived a parsimonious life. One of his fond childhood memories are that of watching Ram Lila performances in his New Plot Mohalla and later enacting with friends the battle scenes with mock arrows and bows. But, he had never thought that he would end up in theatre.
“My journey of Theatre was not smooth but marked by twists and turns. The credit for my first exposure to systematic theatre training goes to my sister’s husband Lokesh Chander, thesound technician at Abhinav Theatre. He encouraged me to join the 2003 Theatre Workshop by J&K Cultural Academy.But the other participants, mostly drawn from the posh colonies of south Jammu, with their expensive clothes, prim looks and manners, put me off. As I thought like other things in life, it were the elite who were most likely to succeed”, says Roheet.
Due to constant plodding by Lokesh ji, I joined Natrang, J&K State’s leading theatre group which under the disciplined guidance of Balwant Thakur ji, proved to be a learning platform not only for acting but also other departments of theatre production. My more than a decade associations with Natrang enriched me as an actor\performer and provided me exposure and opportunity to act in more than fifty plays of Natrang throughout the country and abroad in more than 60 National and International Theatre Festivals. I had the honor of working under directors like Balwant Thakur, Motilal Kemmu, Ravi Kemmu, Neerajkant Sharma, Sanjeev Gupta, Ashish Nijhawan etc.”
“In the meanwhile, I also completed graduate degree in music with specialization in Violin from Jammu University. After sometime, like many aspiring actors, I headed for Mumbai. I found work in a serial for a TV channel, but due to channel’s sudden closure, my dream of making a career a sliver screen actor suffered a jolt. After working at odd jobs, I came back to Jammu and once again sought family’s support to study theatre at Mumbai. I am really indebted to my mother and who supported me to complete my studies and fulfill my dream”.
“During my post-graduate studies in Mumbai, I was fortunate to study under teachers like Himani Shivpuri, Shafat Khan, Faroz Abbas Khan,Vijay Kenkre, and Amodh Bhat, a student of B.V. Karant, who honed my talent in music as a singer and composer and introduced me to innovative use of music and ability to combine classical and folk music forms in “Natya Sangeet”.
The days at the Academy of Theatre, Bombay, proved to be life altering for Roheet Verma, as he got opportunity to work with theatre personalities like Mangesh Bhansod, Vijay Kenkre, Shaafat Khan, Govind Namdev, Ranjeet Kapoor, Faroz Abbas Khan, Milind Inamdar, and Rajshri Shirke. He also directed plays like Qaid-e-Hayat, Dhoop Ka Ek Tukda, Zakhm, 18 hours, Juliet Ke Intezaar Mein, Haamid.
Roheet Verma, who dons with aplomb multiple hats of a director, playwright, music designer, and as a lead singer, has emergedas a befitting talent that is all set to further galvanize the already active theatre scene of Jammu.