A wanderer seeks meaning of life

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She spotted a little raindrop afraid of taking the free fall, and her heart melted. She immediately summoned butterflies and sent them to kiss the scared raindrop and turn it into a blooming rainbow.

She could do so for she knows magic — the magic of immense possibilities in life. Actor-director Rashi Bunny has touched and changed many lives with this magic of hers.
“To know what you want is important, but to know what you don’t want is crucial. To learn for a fact that life is full of uncertainty, and that there is nothing called security, can change lives. You are born at one instant and you die at another instant and in between these two points, all you have is time, probably only a little. There is nothing to lose, so there should be no fear of loss; you can’t lose anything because you never had nothing,” believes Rashi, the founder director of Banjara Theatre Group which was founded in 2001 at Kharagpur, and still making waves in Mumbai. Gutar Goon, a play written and directed by her is going to be staged by Banjara in Mumbai on June 22.
As with most other stuff around Rashi, story of Banjara is, may we say, a tad different. Rashi’s initiative unconsciously became a ray of hope for many students at IIT-Kharagpur campus, living under immense academic pressure and managing gargantuan expectations. It also extended its hand to the villages surrounding the campus, and gave the gift of theatre and creativity to several children who were otherwise robbed of them by abject poverty.
“I did not know that I was changing lives. I did not know whether it was helping anyone. I was young and effervescent at that time. I just shared the vision of having dreams and reaching them with students and children. I knew there were a lot of problems and pressure, but when we met at Banjara, there was only joy and exploration. There was no space for any negativity. I believe that there lies a beautiful powerhouse inside every human being; it just requires a little bit of nurturing, a tap here and a caress there, to fire. Theatre has the ability to make one realise one’s true potential and I believe it is my responsibility to bring this magic to as many lives as I can,” says Rashi.
“Banjara is about the spirit which cannot be stationed or solidly rooted. It is the spirit which cannot be forced into a spot and believes that life is dynamic,” she adds.
After a brief stint with the Living Theatre Academy under Ebrahim Alkazi, Rashi pursued her training in Theatre Arts and Design at the University of Alabama and Rutgers University, New Jersey. After returning to India in 1998, she received the Young Artist scholarship and worked with Shyamanand Jalan and his Padatik theatre group in Kolkata. Recipient of Ruby Llyod Artistic and Academic Excellence Award, and Best International Student Scholarship award in USA, Rashi was also given a special honour for her poetry book Haiku: An Ode of Life by All India Poetess Conference.
While she was on a voyage to explore the world of stage, there was an internal journey unfolding inside Rashi. She had a strong feeling about the purposelessness of life since a very young age. Rashi, who believes in the cosmic connection and the internal thread binding everything, considered herself a misfit in her school. She found herself immersed in reading Krishnamurthy when her classmates were bunking and dating. She was restlessly seeking the meaning and purpose of life.
“There was always a quest for the purpose of existence. And then, as I explored, I figured out that it is actually whatever you define it for yourself. When you come to know that you are passionate about something, you discover a means to end there. For me, that passion turned out to be theatre. With the gift came the huge responsibility of sharing the gift further. I knew that I could bring magic and meaning to many lives in a subtle and simple way. It was my most joyful moment. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you travel far away through your eyes. When you go there, all boundaries vanish. You are not you and I am not me. We merge somewhere,” says the actress popularly known for her solos and plays with director Arvind Gaur such as Madhavi, Tatt Niranjana, Hidden Fires and The Little Prince.
Talking about acting skills surprises Rashi. The actor who redefined solo plays for the Indian stage in the national and international spheres reveals she has no method as such for acting. It’s her fluid belief in things which help her connect with the characters she plays. During Madhavi, Rashi physically colours various canvasses on varying sizes placed on the stage and reaches her sub-conscious to unknot the subtext of the play. Recalling how Gaur pushed her to perform her first solo Madhavi, Rashi says, “It was a case of sheer resistance from my end. I was not ready to believe that there exist women like Madhavis who sacrifice for everyone around. By rejecting her existence, I was fighting the system. It was a big struggle and there were a lot of furious sessions with my director discussing every inch of the play. Initially, I had to comprehend things, but then I started enjoying the journey. I have developed the ability to transport from any birth to any form of life when I am on stage.”
Rashi, who has lived many lives as an actor, finds acting a very humbling experience. As a director, she feels responsible to provide. As a writer, she travels across various horizons of emotions and experiences. And as members of audience, we can simply say, “Whao! What a life!”

Comments

Wonderfully written. Knowing

Wonderfully written. Knowing Rashi, I should say you have captured her core essence very beautifully!

Rashi Bunny is one heck of a

Rashi Bunny is one heck of a Lady .... She appears to be so simple but wow .... She has some C L A S S.. Keep up the good work Bubby !!! Go Bunny Go ...

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