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"I am a director's man"

In conversation with Dr Paresh, a senior sound and lighting professional

The Beginning
It all started in early 1956 at National College – Basavanagudi under renownedmake up artist Nani. I took to front stage initially by acting and it was for B.V. Karanth’s play assisted by my college when I first stood behind lights for a theatre production.

Foray into dance lighting
Rashmi Hegde Gopi’s Arangetram was my debut assignment of dance lighting erstwhile in 1976. My work sparked off a perennial relationship with the Alvas (Jeevraj Alva and Nandini Alva) who drew me into this field and I technically assist Bangalore Habba’s programmes till date.

I was introduced to Gouri Amma (Protima Gouri, founder Nrityagram), the eternal dancer by Prasad Bidapa as I used to do lighting for his shows. I spent memorable time with Gowri Amma who provided me with precious inputs to better my work. Working with Nrityagram (Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy) is a joy even today.

It was not work but passion!

I traveled this path because it compensated my desire to learn things. There was no concept of ‘Paying backstage artists’ until Gouri Amma instigated it. It was only passion that drove me and will continue forever.

Cherished experiences
I feel I did my best lighting in Shivaram Karanth’s ‘Mukkajiya Kanasugalu’.

Keertana Reddy’s play ‘Shakuntala’ where she used Kalaripayattu and other rare art forms in theatre gave me something different to drudge on.

I consider it an honor to have done lighting for one of the world’s best contemporary artist- Merce Cunningham.

‘Manushya Jathi Ondevalam’, a project by the Govt of Karnataka was carried to 24 districts. We performed on each consecutive day in a different district. To be able to dismantle the equipment, travel and set it up all over was very exciting.

The academician in me
A Sociologist by profession, I have a doctorate in Sociology from Bangalore University. I teach sociology at the Madras University.

Three of my students have succeeded in completing PHD’s and one of them, Mr. John Victor is visually impaired.

I owe it to..
My gurus Nani, Padanna, Venkatasubbaiah and Ramamurthy.People who gave me opportunities and had conviction in my capacity.ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) where I was always a Stage Manager for their productions.

Straight from the heart
“My use of colours is from behind the artiste because ‘Abhinaya’ is something that needs undisturbed attention. We call ourselves backstage artists and should live up to it”.

“I am a director’s man. I give what he wants, yet my creativity chirps in without altering the essence”.

“Any limitations are mine and the success is to the Director/ Dancer”.

“I need things to challenge me.”

Today’s scenario- Youngsters and the future
Professionalism is not creativity. There is a lot of professionalism today but a dearth of creativity. Nobody is born creative. It needs to be imbibed and nurtured.

There is a good set of younger generation who want to pursue it but the sad part is the non-existence of documentation for reference. Schools and colleges are definitely taking that step forward in creative education, plenty of which I have been a part of.

A word of advice would be not to burn out fast. Use 200 lights but if 20 lights can do the job, think again!

Dr. Paresh is India’s most famed lighting and sound professional. With over 30 years of experience, he has worked with the who’s who in the field of theatre and performing arts. And all this reflects in the brilliance and humility that he carries off so lightly.

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