Published: 26th September 2017
This 25-year-old from Manipal University is making 'Yakshagana' cool again so that it doesn't become a thing of the past
With the hope of reviving this slowly-dying art form, Abhinav Grover appeals to actors to give Yakshagana a try to hone their craft
We all want to move forward, into the future. But as the great Bob Marley says in No Woman No Cry, in this great future you can’t forget your past. In Karnataka, it is feared that Yakshagana, a traditional theatre form that combines dance, music and dialogue, will soon be an art of the past. While this may not be of much concern to most, here is a youngster who believes that learning the tricks of this theatre form helps one breathe life into contemporary acting.
Going places: Abhinav decided to better his Yakshagana skills and joined the Yakshagana Kendra Udupi
Abhinav Grover, a full-time theatre artist with The Drama School, Mumbai believes that Yakshagana brings the actor alive. This folk form from Karnataka, says Abhinav, has helped him do better as a contemporary artist. “I have been taught that acting is a physical form. It is all about the body and your ability to control it,” says the 25-year-old. As part of his training, Abhinav had to learn forms of Indian folk and theatre. “The difference is evident when one learns Yakshagana and then performs on stage. If I have the control, I can engage well in physical activity and this also gives good awareness of oneself,” he explains.
Having seen his interest in theatre ever since his college days, Manipal University granted Abhinav Grover a scholarship to learn Yakshagana. Soon after, he also started directing plays at the varsity. He believes Yakshagana helps with voice training
In 2015, Abhinav decided to better his Yakshagana skills and joined the Yakshagana Kendra Udupi, where he was mentored by Sanjeev Suvarna. “There is no fee to learn Yakshagana here. Guruji only tests one’s patience. It is a completely traditional system of learning,” says Abhinav.
When he started learning, the challenges were plenty. It was a new learning experience for him. “From the food to the way things functioned at the Kendra, it was all different. This experience gave me an insight to the place,” says Abhinav, who studied software engineering. Does he regrets not taking that path to a lucrative job? “No, performing is what I love. Every field has its own difficulties and so does theatre.”
Talking about the difference Yakshagana has made, Abhinav says, “Yakshagana gave me the physical confidence. For instance, sometimes, you are expected to stand on stage without moving. Yakshagana helps me expand from within. It gives me the room to experience the sadness of Rama and the strength of Jatayu.”