Aarushi Thakur Rana - Theatre Artist


Aarushi Thakur Rana, 26, is a professional Theatre Director, Writer and Actor based in Jammu & Kashmir. She has so far written and directed ten full-length plays.

The Green Room

The journey into theatre began quite unexpectedly for Aarushi. A graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, she went on to pursue a Masters in International Politics from the University of Leicester, UK. Though her father holds a Padma Shri Award and is an internationally renowned theatre personality, when Arushi expressed her desire to pursue theatre as a full-time profession, it was still quite a surprise.

She says that even today, that surprise lingers on.

As Aarushi was always an academically gifted student, her parents wanted her to further her career in academics; either get a PhD or appear for a competitive exam. However, life had other plans in store for her.

Topsy Turvy

Aarushi was allowed to do theatre only between her time off from preparing for the Kashmir Administrative Service exams. However, she was eager to get it over with and yearned to go back to reading, writing scripts and doing theatre full-time.

Incidentally, this happened to be the year of the gruesome Kashmir floods. The severe flooding led to the exam process being cancelled for the entire year in the state.

Like the aftermath of tragedies are encapsulated with both ruin and resurrection, the horrible calamity, led Aarushi to another door. The suspended exam cycle in a way, liberated her from the shackles of societal expectations. Now, with the weight lifted off her mind, Aarushi could wholeheartedly pursue her one true love - theatre.

The First Act

The very beginning for Aarushi was mired with difficulties- she had no formal training and many colleagues and Senior Artists that she encountered assumed that she was just carrying out a whim or pursuing a hobby. Her illustrious academic background further reinforced such presumptions.

No one thought that I would let my degrees go to 'waste' and jump into the deep ocean, known to swallow many”

Others wanted her to still focus on competitive exam preparations and not trade off her ‘valuable’ study time with theatre practices.

The Works

Although Aarushi has spent a relatively short span of time in the theatre industry, but her profile boasts of having written and directed ten full-length plays. Her repertoire of work consists primarily of Hindi adaptions of classic western literature and novels, including Dickensian classics.

Moreover, her passion for History has translated into direction of plays centred around the life events of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn in English.

She has also recently delved into autobiographical theatre, and she maintains that her forte is the picturesque description and the lively presentation of William Shakespeare's work.

The Acting Lessons

Whether it is direction or acting, Aarushi says that there are a plethora of skills that are required. However, it is essential to be able to exhibit creativity and constantly keep innovating. Prestigious institutions such as National School of Drama (NSD) and Film Institute of India (FTII) certainly help hone the talents of an individual, however their impact is only limited to grooming. They provide the right exposure and experience but they cannot replace or create the passion or calibre that is intrinsic to a person.

Does it P(l)ay?

You are only as good as your last performance. A couple of slip-ups and the audience will not hesitate to criticise you. They won’t spend their money to watch your performance.” Aarushi remarks.

Theatre is inherently financially uncertain. Aarushi clarifies that you have to be regularly engaged in acting or directing to be able to make a living out of it.

Another demand of such a creative industry is the need to constantly prove oneself. Additionally, each production can consume as much as three - four months to execute. This implies that Aarushi has to keep seeking new sponsors, artists to collaborate with and more avenues to gain a financial anchor.

However, there’s nothing else that she’d rather be doing.

The Critic’s Review

Theatre brings self-actualisation to Aarushi - “It makes me feel liberated. It makes me alive. With all the opportunities life has presented me with, I am extremely grateful to the universe for where I stand today. If you detach theatre from me, I will be nothing. I will be no one”

Being ambitious, she wishes to work on productions that can appeal to the overseas audiences. She wishes to continue working on English classics, adding a ‘desi’ twist and showcasing this cultural fusion across geographies. Her dream is to perform at Broadway and The Globe Theatre someday.

Standing Ovation

Aarushi warns those who dare to embark upon the road less taken, to be mentally prepared to hear a lot of discouraging, disheartening words.

There will be those that’ll want you to fail, hope you change your mind”

This might instigate self-doubts and make one wonder if they made the right choices. But one should never succumb to such words. “Instead let the doubt, the resentment and negativity function as fuels to your fire, work tirelessly, passionately and honestly and you shall succeed.”

Aarushi adds that “The hardest things in life are generally the most fulfilling; just because we haven’t figured them out yet doesn’t mean we never will. We should just not be ready to give up on our dreams."

#whiterslates #theatre #direction #acting #plays #classics #writing #broadway

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