Meet the actor of ‘Bard of Blood’

Mohammad Yaseen

It was 1990 when the cold dark night of January 19 had stirred into life the worst nightmares for the people living in the valley. It was the time when a six year old kid without knowing anything, what is going around him saw bloodshed and the fright that gripped on that particular night. He was sitting in the lap of his mother watching and absorbing the entire thing happening around him and trying to figure out why the people were so frightened?! He saw his father having wet eyes locking the door of the house one last time without knowing where they are going to live after leaving Kashmir. Since that day, that image stayed with him and became his source of creativity. He had lot to say but never questioned or discussed with anyone, about these events. The imprints than became the raw material for his biographical play Frozen Dreams (in the year 2012) which emerged from the mass migration of Hindus in early nineties. It was the journey of a young boy who migrated from the valley at the age of six, his early childhood impressions, images of turmoil, brutalities and cries, those frightening images of horror still horrify him. sufferings of the displaced and people in exile had been beautifully portrayed using the languages of images and sounds in Frozen Dreams. Such sufferings could easily be related to any place or region. Be it the case of Tibetans or Palestinians the pain of wounds is the same.
He is none other than Asheish Nijhawan who is an alumnus of London International School of Performing Arts and National School of Drama, New Delhi. An actor, director, scenographer and acting teacher was born to Virender Kumar and Saroj Nijhawan in Srinagar and has brought laurels for the state of Jammu and Kashmir many times and this time he is amongst those big actors who were chosen for the first ever Shahrukh Khan produced Netflix series Bard of Blood based on the book of the same name by author Bilal Siddiqi, who is also a creator of the series which is now successfully streaming on Netflix in India and across the world. He is playing a character of Aftab Khalid (Taliban`s Second in Command) and is receiving the thunderous accolades and praises from the film fraternity as well as common masses. His portrayal of the negative part that too in his debut is so engrossing and natural, that he is being seen as the find of the year in the industry.
At a tender age, Asheish started as a painter and now he is known in the field of theatre by everyone, in which he believes, he works very hard and demands his pound of flesh. A recipient of Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Award in Theatre Direction and Inlaks International Award, he has more than 20 plays as director to his credit and has acted in more than 50 plays. His critically acclaimed directorial ventures involve “Frozen Dreams” based on the insurgency and migration of Hindu Community from Kashmir valley to refugee camps in other parts of India, “Bohran” based on Rabindranath Tagore`s last speech ‘Crisis in Civilisation’ , William Shakespeare`s “Richard the III”, Mohan Rakesh`s “Aashad Ka Ek Din” and “Jayaz Hatayaree”, a Hindustani adaptation of Albert Camus`s “The Just Assassins”.
He is having the credit of working with well-known Theatre Directors from India and abroad like Balwant Thakur (India), Arvind Gaur (India), Anuradha Kapur , Ram Gopal Bajaj, RanjeetKapur, Robin Das, OvliyakuliKhodhyakuli (Uzbekistan), Michal Brown (USA), Amy Russel (UK), MfundoTshazibane (South Africa). Apart from performing with National School of Drama Repertory Company of India he has participated in many national and international Theatre festivals including Global Alliance of Theatre schools as well as ATEC theatre festival in Beijing, China. He has also 2 research fellowships in acting one on Grotowsky`s approach and the other on Butoh theatre to his credit. Before making his acting debut he has worked as an assistant director on the film Kaalakandi directed by Akshat Verma and on Vidhu Vinod Chopra`s yet to be titled upcoming directorial venture.
Asheish has been actively involved in conducting workshops and talks for artists across India and abroad. He has been invited to conduct production oriented theatre workshops for Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), National School of Drama and Sangeet Natak Akademi . He has also taught at Anupam Kher`s acting school ‘Actor Prepares’ and is a visiting faculty in ‘The Drama School Mumbai’ and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jammu.
He further says that after completing my matriculation I joined Natrang and later on worked under the banner of Asmita theatre in Delhi where I learnt the nuances of theatre for social awareness. It was not an easy job to keep oneself in theatre as many of us are not aware about the actual meaning of theatre and its difficulties. It is theatre which has made me who I am today, it has given me everything to be with best of the world and to shine on silver screen and I want to thank and express my gratitude to each and every one who showed faith and stood behind my journey. My grandfather was my source of inspiration who always taught me to have faith on yourself and later you will get what you deserve. The special people who deserve my heartfelt gratitude are G.R.Santosh, M.L.Kemmu, Bettina Baumer, Anuradha Kapur, Balwant Thakur and Arvind Gaur. He promises that he will be giving more time in the coming days towards the development and promotion of theatre art in Jammu and to help aspirants to excel in Art of acting. He concludes by saying -Jammu is having immense talent and I have already taken some talent from Jammu for Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s upcoming venture.
Sharing his views on ‘Bard of Blood’ I was chosen for the some other character which was close to my appearance, behaviour, thoughts etc but finally I got to play Aftab which was totally opposite to me and I had the chance to go deep with my skills to bring something different and I felt happy to do such a challenging character who is totally opposite to my daily life as the versatility is one of the most important thing ‘in actors life.’ It took me nine months to grow the beard for the part as I wanted to live the character of Aftab rather than playing it. I also had a language coach who helped me to learn Pashto which was essential for this character.