Artist on Tour
by Vimala Ramu
Going on tour is part of a stage artist’s life, be he an amateur or a professional. There is tremendous excitement in performing in different locales. Apart from visiting different places, a tour affords an opportunity to get acquainted with people, their different culture and cuisine and thus provides variety of experiences and some indelible memories.
My first out-of-the-town performance was when I was 5 years old. I had come from Kolar School to Bangalore as a part of the Makkala Koota
(Children’s organization) celebrations. I had to recite a Kannada poem of 8 lines with action on what looked to me a gigantic stage at Fort High School.
My eldest sister who was a resident of Bangalore was supposed to collect me after my rendition and take me home. But I, who had been brought up on the thickest of the curds, had been subjected to a lunch earlier in the day with our team where the buttermilk served was so thin that I could see the person serving it through the buttermilk. I couldn’t wait enough for my sister to take me home though I fulfilled my assignment duly.
The next tour was when I was nearly 40, when I travelled with my son to Ujjain with the Karnataka team to take part in ‘Abhigyana Shakuntalam’ a Sanskrit play at Kalidas Samaroh. After the performance ended, I was applying coconut oil to my face to remove the make-up when I saw my husband’s cousin and wife entering the green room. They were very happy to spot me among the actors (confirmed by the dramatis personae in the booklet) and were very keen to take me to their place at Indore. They promised to bring me back to the group on the day we were to leave for Bangalore. We left by their car after I obtained the permission of Adya Rangacharya, our producer. On the way, we enjoyed the famous Rabadi and Jalebis of Ujjain at 11pm in the night!
When my aunt-in-law saw me, the family daughter-in law, appearing at their doorstep at 2 O’ Clock in the middle of the night, so far from Bangalore, with an oily face sans the traditional bindi, diamond studs and mangalasutra,
she was shocked. I told her that I had ditched Ramu and run away with a drama company and that her son had caught me and brought me home!
One more thing I remember about that trip to Ujjain was, the hero of our play, unlike in Kalidasa’s Shakuntalam, had been ditched by his girl friend in real life. So, the moping Devdas made me sing ‘Mera sundar sapana beeth gaya’
at least 20 times on the train!
Once on our trip to Dharwad, I saw a very fair man talking to our director in the greenroom. It was none other than Vijay Tendulkar, the famous playwright who had come to watch our play!
Another highlight of the Dharwad trip was the thump on my back. I had played the role of a news reporter in the play. It was a party scene. One of the characters was supposed to walk in and pat me on the back and say, “Hi, Press” familiarly. But, he must have been really carried off by the camaraderie; he thumped me so hard on my back that my wincing with shock and pain could be seen by the whole cast and probably by the audience too!
Once I took up the job of a teacher, I could no longer afford to travel with the troupe. Understandably enough, I was gradually eased out of the local performances too. End