AN OPTIMISTIC PERSONA: RAHUL SINGH CHAUHAN
A man with his own virtues, a crystal clear concrete vision and tremendous hardwork, Rahul Singh Chauhan is a final year student of the Department of Civil Engineering. Here, team MM unfolds some of the tales of his successes.
MM: How did you find your way to NITR? Tell us something about your life before NITR.
RSC: Engineering was never my first choice. Right from class 3 to class 10, I was actively involved in theatres and radio. I even played the role of back up RJ for Radio Mirchi during my 11th and 12th. Theatre interests me a lot and I am even looking forward to a career in the same field as well. Civil Engineering in an institute with good infrastructure was definitely a choice and hence, NITR happened to me.
MM: There must have been expectations when you joined NITR. Does the reality over here match your expectations or do they fall short?
RSC: The very first thought that ran down the lanes of my mind when I decided to study in Odisha was its rich Culture and Heritage. I expected a lot of cultural quotient among the students of NITR but the expectation didn’t match the reality. My cultural soul wasn’t totally satisfied in the beginning. But now as we can observe that it has evolved, especially the dramatics society, dance clubs and cinematics are doing a good job.
MM: You got a PPO from L&T-ECC. How was your experience throughout the selection procedure? What does L&T, as a recruiter, actually look for in a potential employee?
RSC: Yes, I did get a PPO from L&T-ECC and I am looking forward to joining the company for 2 years. L&T is one of the best construction companies in India. The work environment there is very tough as in your physical endurance gets tested continuously. They are very particular at the deadlines. I was the only one to be selected for an intership at L&T from my branch. Well, I must admit that I got to learn a lot during this period. I am a kind of person who believes in practical learning than theoretical and in these two years, I would give my 100% to the company so that it does store a positive image of mine and if in future I wish to come back, I could achieve that smoothly.
MM: How many clubs are you a part of? How do you assess the club culture at NITR?
RSC: To be a part of theatres, it is necessary that you should be quite actively involved in music and dance as well. During theatres, I learnt Kathakali. I was even a part of synergy in my 1st year. I’m a professional flute player and am learning to play the guitar. I don’t believe in zone culture and hence, I am not a part of any zone. I believe in personal development. Oficially, I am a part of Pantomime and CEST Club, but when I get an opportunity, I work for other clubs as well.
The only thing, that affects Club Culture here is seniorism. I believe this senior – junior disparity should be removed. No matter from whom the ideas flow, it should be judged on its quality. If you go to other places, they don’t have the same thing. Creativity is their priority. If such a thing gets introduced at NITR, then the club culture will see a lot of improvement and involvement.
MM: How would you rate the NITR academic and research environment?
RSC: Well, it is really good but nonetheless, it still needs to improve. Personally, I am not that inclined to academics. Engineering was always my second option. But, I sincerely feel that if one can survive here, with so many assignments, record submissions, exam stress and pressure from guide, they can tackle any problem outside.
MM:You have been associated with theatres for over 8 years. Tell us from where the journey began?
RSC: My mother was a folk singer at Akashwani. So, when she would go there for performing, she used to take me along with her. When I used to see people on the stage, it attracted me a lot. I would comment that media attention fascinated me. Theatre is my first love. It might happen so, that as I go ahead in my future, I would start doing lot many movies but one thing is pretty sure, I would never leave theatres. The basic difference in theatres and cinema is that in theatres, there is no chance of retakes and you get the audience response instantaneously. It is like embedded in my blood. My mother has a big role to play in my journey in this field as she was the constant source of support and inspiration for me to continue.
MM: You remain unbeaten in the mono acting competition for the last years in IIT KGP Spring Fest.
RSC: Monoacting is all about immersing oneself in the character. IIT KGP stage is not that appropriate for theatres and mono-acting. Generally, we wish to have a darker stage, so that direct contact with audience, while playing your role, doesn’t take place frequently. This time, I was playing the character of a boy whose grandfather had fallen in love with a Pakistani girl named Sabina during his stay at Pakisthan. During the partition, his grandfather had to return back to India and she, being a muslim, remained there. It was such a love story that never actually got started and neither did it ever end. The grandfather used to narrate their stories to this boy, who considered Sabina, who is still unmarried, as her grandmother. They usually communicated via letters and now, that the grandfather is no more, letters from Sabina still arrive. So, the entire story was based on India-Pakistan division.
MM: Your play Munna Jazbati: The Q-tiya Intern by TVF has over 1.5 million views on YouTube. How did you approach TVF for it? What were your expectations and how did it unfold?
RSC: During its initial days, I used to work for TVF. Gradually, when the platform became big, ego came in between and even they got many writers to write for them. They asked me to reduce my payment which I didn’t as I thought that would underestimate my calibre. I have a lot of friends from the theatre groups from where I got the contacts and approached them.
MM: You have been associated with the National School of Drama and would represent India at the 12th Zurich Film Festival. Could you shed more light upon the journey?
RSC: ZFF is basically a theatre festival. The selection procedure is quite tedious and is done by Theatre associations at the state followed by the national level. I have worked in close association with Kalidasa Rangalaya in Patna and Prithvi Theatres in Mumbai. I had sent my script way back in 2010 and am happy that it finally got selected. My act focuses on displaying subtle nuances of the south asian culture. The only uphill task is that I’m the only Indian in the crew, so I’ll have to teach them Indian theatres right from the basics besides being the incharge for script, screenplay as well as direction.
MM: Amidst such a hectic schedule, with all these attendance rules, how did you manage to be such an active part of theatres?
RSC: You can say I managed my leaves well. If you dig up all those attendance sheets, you would observe that I always had 6-7 absents in each of my subjects and if I ever crossed the limit, I made sure the number was not less than 12. (laughs). See, clarity preceeds excellence. If you know your capabilities, set your priorities right and life would be a cakewalk. Simple!
MM: Do you think your association with Pantomime and Mood IndiGo helped?
RSC: I never wrote for Pantomime, but did act in their plays. I also used to write for some of my friends who are involved in active theatres in IIT Bombay. Luckily, they even managed to win the event in MoodI but to be honest, I never want to be famous because of my association with a certain group rather because of my own performance.
MM: Where do you see yourself in the future?
RSC: I want to be in the National School of Drama some day. I would take up a job at L&T-ECC for two years and plan to work to the best of my abilities so that they remember me in case I wish to make a comeback. Meanwhile, I would also prepare for GATE and then plan to join IIT Bombay for my Masters. However, I never intend to complete the programme. The reason being that the theatre culture at IIT-B and Mumbai as a whole is one of the best in the country. Being in IIT-B, rather in Mumbai in particular, gives me two advantages - the first one being a stipend and second, living in a beautiful campus despite being a struggler. If I ever fall short of money, I’ll definitely try my luck in the Film Industry but as far as satisfaction is concerned, Theatres would be my top priority.
MM: How do you see the future of theatres in general?
RSC: It largely depends on the socio-economic background. Theatres were quite popular in the 20th century and still are in the western countries. But at present, the film industry has overtaken it up to a large extent because of the fact that you could watch the movies again and again and whenever you wish. People hardly have the time and money now. “Kuch cheese mehengi hoti hai, lekin unka taste bahut accha hota hai”. Anyone who appreciates acting in true sense would definitely prefer the theatres.
MM: So anyone you admire from the field?
RSC: I’m particularly inspired by Nawazuddin Siddique. He believes in method acting which I never approved of earlier. The whole idea is to actually develop a real life scenario of the situation you would be put into. In theatres, whenever we are assigned a character, we either imitate someone from real life or zoom in that particular aspect of our own self, the latter is what the method actors do. After hearing his interview, I liked the way he clarified the difference between the two and am looking forward to inculcate it.
MM: Can we see Rahul Singh Chauhan leading his own theatre group someday?
RSC: Honestly, never because I’m a horrible leader. I had had experiences earlier where this whole idea of making someone do something turned out to be a nightmare. I know what I want but to ask others to do the same is something I’m not capable of.
MM: You’ll be finishing your stay here in a very short time. What are the things you’ll miss most?
RSC: I feel that the sense of humour of people outside NITR is very bad. People take life too seriously. I like making fun of people and I’m lucky that people have taken that in a positive way here at NITR. That’s the sole reason I made so many friends.
MM: What would be your advice to your juniors?
RSC: To be able to survive for four to five years in an engineering college is a big achievement in itself. Life is comparatively easy for those who want to pursue engineering further but not everyone wants to excel in academics. It really is a daunting task to write all those records and assignments even though you don’t have an interest. But make sure you have set your priorities and work upon them. I strongly disagree with the fact there is so much competition in every field. You are not competing with 1.2 billion people of the country, but only a selective few in your field. So, narrow down your sample space and just work to be the best among them.