The bigger picture

May 04, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 04:33 am IST

Adishakti’s Nimmy Raphel looks back at October , and tells us how her craft on stage has moulded her work on screen

All the world’s a stageNimmy Raphel explores the mediums of theatre and cinema with equal verve and passionSpecial Arrangement

All the world’s a stageNimmy Raphel explores the mediums of theatre and cinema with equal verve and passionSpecial Arrangement

A Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi dancer trained in Kerala Kalamandalam, Nimmy Raphel is a performer in every sense; be it with her acting, dancing or music (she’s even a puppeteer!). She is a resident at Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts & Research, a performing arts company not very far from the laid-back art embracing Puducherry. And, she was seen recently in the silver screen acting in the Shoojit Sircar film, October .

“I have done one Tamil film before this with Mysskin and a short film with Santosh Sivan. So it wasn't a new experience. I liked the storyline and the treatment of October , and it's quite different from doing theatre. But I really enjoyed the process a lot. Being on the set and in character for a long time.” When asked about what excited her most about the film, she responded by saying, “Being in a a Shoojit film.”

Indian mythology is an interesting aspect of Raphel’s work. Now, it has become her brand of theatre. She admits that her entry into the world of theatre was a stroke of luck, “It was an accident. I met Veenapani Chawla, the founder of Adishakti. I then came into Adishakti and never left,” says the actress, who began her journey with the company in 2001, when she was just about 18.

She adds, “When I joined the campus near Auroville, there was greenery everywhere. Each and every tree there was planted by Veenapani herself. I went there at a point when Adishakti needed more infrastructure.” Raphel joined the company as a musician working in plays such as Brihannala , Ganapati and Impressions of Bhima for which she went on to operating the lights after 2008. Her first full-fledged play with the company was The Hare and The Tortoise and Rhinoceros in 2007 after a good six years of training. She says, “There was a lot of back-work that went into it and years of research.”

When asked about whether her intensive training as a dancer adds to her being a theatre performer she says, “I don’t know whether I use the same sensibilities that I do for dancing in my theatrical work right now.But, you can never take away the influences in terms of exploration of the body.”

Bali , a play written and directed by Raphel, has the namesake (the monkey king of Kishkinta from The Ramayana ) as the protagonist. His death is the main preoccupation of the script.

The play, which was staged in front of a full house of 200 people, is being performed again at Adishakti, Puducherry on May 6.

Raphel’s tryst with Indian mythology-based pieces is an interesting aspect of what is now her own personal brand of theatre

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