Shraddha Shalini Malviya, Chhau dancer and Theatre actress, speaking to Natyahasini, shares that her journey in the field of dance and theatre is very interesting and the connection is learning. “I believe that learning is a continuous process and it will continue till the last breath. And the day, I’ll think – I have learned everything! That day I will die in the artistic world,” says the young theatre actress dancer. Shraddha has been on this journey of learning since 2008 and she is knowledgeable in our culture and its strength. “I try to practice it in my daily life because I want to grow as a human being. My journey in theatre and dance is very effective for me, it helps me to understand how and why I am doing theatre and dance and through this form how my mental and physical strength is developing,” she reveals.
Speaking about getting into the teeth of the character, Shraddha says, it’s always acting for her, as she forgets herself and believes in playing and breathing life into the character, and at that time she finds herself most creative. “Everywhere people believe that they have to carry their identity, self-respect, ego, attitude, their positions etc. But I believe all this will only happen when I am living a character on stage. As an actor, I need to learn body movement, I started learning Chhau and staged many shows based on body movement, and slowly, slowly, I became dancer and performer. I love myself as an actor, dancer and performer. But the most connected is Shraddha Shalini as ‘A Theatre Actor’,” she says.
Learning Chhau: Shraddha Shalini states that as an actor when she was required to learn body movement, she started learning Chhau under the guidance of Chandra Madhav Barik. “While performing the character on stage, I realised that my body actions and movements are energetic and I felt more connected to stage with lot of confidence. It’s then that I realised Chhau form was merging with my Acting skills and now I needed to understand the Chhau form from acting point of view. I started collecting information from Chhau like breathing, grace, attitude, gesture and posture etc… and trying to use in acting. It worked for me, so its beneficial for me to merge Chhau with theatre,” says the University of Hyderabad student.
The Chhau dancer & actor justifies that there is a connection of the two in her performances. “Art is having its own language, its connected by soul. In Bhopal, continuously working in the Hindi theatre and now working in Hyderabad, interacting with newer audience, the Hyderabad audience have always welcomed and appreciated me, giving me immense happiness and energy to move forward,” she says. The dancer completed her Masters in Theatre Arts from University of Hyderabad, where she performed over eight productions and in each production, the auditorium was full capacity and she received standing ovation.
Winning Over Audiences: Currently, Shraddha Shalini is planning to bowl the Hyderabadis. Recalling an interaction with a member of the audience of the Nawab City in Shilparamam, in 2017, where she performed, there was a little girl age around six-years-old, who came to meet me backstage along with her mother and clicked a photo and till date, we continue to remain in touch.
The Bhopal girl, who has made Hyderabad her home now, mentions that her productions are not always women-oriented, but agrees that she has performed many plays and dance shows of female protagonists like Draupadi, Shakuntala, Manji, Nora etc… “I have played many characters which is much prominent in the play and in the society as well. To perform these kinds of character need lots of courage and acting skills. What draws me to project women is that we are still living in the society where women don’t have vision, future, rights, passion and still can’t take a stand for themselves,” she says. The artist says that through the platform, she is able to raise her voice and educate the society. “Firstly, I live that character, and with the help of the performance, we share thinking, strength and the thought to fight the situation. It makes me happy and that time I realise the power of the display medium,” she says, quickly adding: “My closest character which I played is Manji (a rape victim) and Shakuntala (mythological character). In 2014, I performed Manji under the direction of Sarfaraz Hasan that was the time when I arrived as an actress in Bhopal on stage,” she says.
Theatrical Music: “I used to sing in chorus, but before the shows even I didn’t know the basics – Sa, Re, Ga, Ma. So, I started learning from the beginning under Music Director Surendra Wankhede (Chachchu) in Bhopal. He trained me and I did some musical shows where my teachers and friends appreciated and said that my voice texture was different, and with proper training I would emerge as a theatrical singer. It was then, I enrolled for music classes under Guru Siddharam Korwar ji. Music in theatre is like sugar in tea. In theatre, actors need some performing elements like dance and music. I have performed many plays, where I have sung folk and theatrical music. During performing an act, I use many scales, pitch, tempo and volume according to the understanding of music,” says the youngster, signing off with a smile.