Pankaj Sharma-Lighting up the Jammu Stage

Mohd. Yaseen
What does an Artist earn by treadmilling his life on the stage? It is an uncommon question difficult to be answered by a common man. Artist born in the mother’s lap dedicates his entire life to the theatre. Theatre, a room in which the artist creates a particular environment to communicate a message through self expression is a courageous job. It is so because theatre also speaks a metaphorical language hidden in artist’s expression. An occurrence of the thought, theme and dream portrayed by a stage play is essential for the fullest effect of production. The mind is calmed by the environment that a play creates in the meditative way, a subtle sound and light effects that keep veiling through the performance, make a memorable imprint. Like a cricket player who works 24 hours to train himself in bowling and batting, an artist also spends 24 hours of his life to adopt himself in certain roles and expressions.
While actors, story, theme, make up costumes etc all play an important role in the success of a play, light effects add an essential life to it. Regular theatergoers can easily envisage the difference in the same play when performed in an open air theatre with only the sunlight and when it is performed inside an auditorium with full lighting effects. Light effect is the main component of production in bringing out the essence of stage play among the concerned audience. Both light effects and sound charge the stage with intense feelings. Any individual sitting in audience section can feel this difference in mood variation. “Light effects are the heart of play”, opined Pankaj Sharma, also a well known light designer. He is of the firm belief that the success of a play is unmistakably because of team work of different wings involved in the production adding, however, that light effects go a long way to add extra color to the spectrum. He is a self learnt designer who began his career as an actor with Natrang Theatre group in 1990 under the guidance of Balwant Thakur but switched over to technical aspects in 2000 when he did a workshop on Light design with Jasbir Singh Jassi. Getting an opportunity with Jasbir Singh Jassi was the turning point of his life. Technician, as a light designer backed up his identity as an artist with other skills as well. “Lights always fascinated me and I would study and observe it. Gradually, my interest increased and presently I found myself taking to it”, he said. He designed the lights of Mega Cultural shows like Celebrating Diversity, Rangla Jammu, Jammu Festival, Jashn ae Kashmir etc. on the factors that a light designer has to take into account. Pankaj said, “The clear idea of director’s need, knowledge of the mood of story, demand and knowledge of the script are necessary for effecting lighting”, he said, adding, “Blocking is another important aspect of art of theater.” Pankaj also quoted that inner satisfaction is what keeps him going. “Lighting is a very important aspect of a play and I derive my satisfaction from the fact that I am making a contribution to Indian Theatre”, he said. Thus the contribution of a light designer cannot be played down. It is a tough job and many a play make it big because of light effects, though that may not be the only reason for fame.
“Mere Hisse Ki Dhoop Kaha Hai” was my first individual job as a light designer, he recalled, adding however, that he had people like Jasbir Singh Jassi from whom he learned a lot. As an Employee of J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages as a light designer I further got an opportunity to work with the big names of light designers i.e. Souti Chakraborty and Bapi Bose. Bopi Bose complemented the department that JKAACL have a ‘Rock of Gabriel’ which every theatre practitioner wanted to have with them.
Born in 1972, Pankaj as a light designer has also received accolades from theatre experts. His journey in theatre is however followed by various other nationally acclaimed Natrang productions like Ghumayee, Bawa Jitto, Bagia Bancha Ram ki, Mahabhoj, Mere Hisse ki Dhoop Kahaan hai, Raktbeej, Comedy of Terrors, Bichoo, Kauva Chala Hans Ki Chaal, Sainyan Bhaye Kotwal, Mind Games and Aap Humare Hain Kon. Till now, he has participated in more than 70 National and International Theatre Festivals. He has sparked his presence in more than 30 serials for Doordarshan. Besides, he has also given his outstanding performances for Doordarshan Jammu and Kashmir as an anchor. “My parents, father Padam Nath Sharma and Mother Amrit Sharma always walked equally with me along with my wife and brother.
I would be zero without their immense support”, he said. One of the biggest memorable achievements of his life is when he worked in a Bollywood movie titled “19 January 1999” with Anupam Kher, K.K.Raina, and Dipti Naval etc. Asserting his wish to keep theatre as an integral part of life, Pankaj rated criticism as a vital ingredient for grooming as an artist. “It provides a chance for improvement,” Pankaj opined and added that self analysis is also equally important. From the aforementioned saga of versatile actor Pankaj Sharma, it can be said that he has set an example for upcoming artists which will guide them how to flourish in this field.
Sanjeev Gupta a versatile actor of Jammu and Kashmir and a Yuva Bismillah Khan Awardee in the field of Direction revealed that Pankaj Sharma, an epitome of theatre, is no way away from the list of brilliant artists in India. He is an actor who is already known for his acting skills and has showcased his talent in many National and International Theatre Festivals held in India and different parts of Russia and Germany. No doubt, front stage is his identity but the back stage is his backbone because according to him, backstage is the soul of stage plays. It is from here an artist is signaled to change the mood, environment and tone and his inner power of designing gives us a new dimension on stage to showcase ourself on stage.