BJAS Takes to the Stage

BJAS Theatre in Mumbai and Delhi is now swinging into high gear with two new performances- and many more to come.

In Mumbai, it’s The Big Night In, an English comedy, on the boards April  19 & 20 and 26 & 27 April at Mise En Scene, Andheri West, Mumbai.

The Big Night In, by British playwright Richard Marsh, is the uproarious story of four guys stuck inside with each other for an entire evening. Performed by alumni of Barry John Acting Studio and produced by BJAS Theatre. For ticket info, call 8850408662 or 9821044325. Join us for a sparkling evening of comedy!

Baghdad ka Gulamis a hilarious historical and fantastical comedy based on Carlo Goldini’s The Servant of Two Masters. It’s a tale of mixing love  with secrets and the resulting confusion. This production is the Hindi version performed by Barry John’s Theatre Action Group, in 1988 and by BJAS Mumbai Studio in 2008.

Performance is 12 May at India Habitat Centre’s Stein Auditorium, on Lodhi Road, 7.00 PM. Ticket at bookmyshow.com.

BJAS Theatre is the BJAS Theatre in Education Trust (BJAS-TIE), a new non-profit Society that continues the tradition of fine performances by Imago Theatre Group and Theatre Action Group. Its acting and stage management members are graduates of courses at Barry John Acting Studio.

We are now welcoming sponsors. To join BJAS Theatre as a donor member or major sponsor, call us on 9716114466 (Sanjay in New Delhi) or 9967977966 (Rajeev in Mumbai).

 

Nawaz Visits Us in Mumbai

At the final day and graduation ceremony at BJAS Studio in Mumbai, we were happy to welcome the famed Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Nawaz was part of a lively exchange of ideas with the students, handed out diplomas, and posed with the students for their class photo.

Nawaz was a student at NSD with Rajeev Gaursingh, who manages (and more) our Mumbai Studio.

We’ve posted photos at our Facebook Page and at Instagram, and a video of the discussion will posted soon here and at FB and Insta.

 

YAC Street Play in Delhi

Great weather, good crowd, and energetic performances by the kids made for a perfect afternoon for the Young Actors from our Studio in New Delhi. The event culminated our 6-weekend workshop, spent entirely on preparation for the outdoor Street Play performances. Both Street plays were about problems and stresses experienced by children in modern-day urban India, and featured songs, rhythmic chanting and “scenes” which created a story.

Coincidentally, just before the performance began, an ex-YAC and Certificate Course student, Simraan Kaur, walked by. She was visiting Dilli Haat with family. Simraan talked for a while with the students about her experiences – she’s now in a daily serial, working in Mumbai.

The students in the YAC program:

Ishani Sinha, Pukit Abrol, Vedika Sethi, Nihal Solanki, Kaashvi Agarwal, Arnav Agarwal, Prarthana Agarwal , Shresht Bajaj, Daksha Amit Sawant, Sharmishtha N. Singh, Viraj Vohra, Anya Grover, Shaurya Grover, Aryan Batra, Dheer, Bharat Suneja, Annvi Tyagi, Isha Kanodia, Rashmi Abeogaonkar

The excellent teachers were Praveen Pithambaran and Gopal Vats.

Submit Your Film!

We’ve assembled a crew for shooting short films in both Mumbai and Delhi, and we’re looking for great scripts. Comedy, drama, a mixture of the two, all OK, but please – no copies of Western or Indian films, and nothing that “has a message” delivered by hammer. We’re looking for well-drawn characters and an engrossing story. The story can be presented in a traditional or experimental mode. Send us ideas from the Film Submission page.

Our first film is from a script by Barry John, and he’ll be directing. On the floor in early March, in Delhi – auditions are an event at the Facebook page.

Curtain Rises on Theatre Groups

Theatre groups featuring BJAS graduates are starting up (or continuing) in both New Delhi and Mumbai. We’re now in the process of choosing a season plays (in both Hindi and English, old and new) and auditioning actors who want to join the troupe.

In New Delhi, Sanjay Sujitabh is in charge and can be contacted through Ratika at the front desk on 9716114466 or 9999704455. Rajeev Gaursingh is heading up the group in Mumbai and can be contacted through Arhsiya our casting head on 9967977966 and 9967977967.

BJAS grads can also join as stagehands or other backstage work, inclkuding lighting and sound tech, set design, etc. Just give us a call and come see us.

 

Barry John on Acting – First of a Series

A few words of caution and challenge for anyone who is thinking about joining a BJAS course. While “acting naturally” may look easy when the pros do it, freshers find out soon enough that it takes talent and training and hard work to create believable characters in a film or stage play.

On Acting and Success

Barry John on acting and success:

“There is no magic formula that works every time! Over four decades, I have evolved a system that draws on my experience of working with children, with youth, with disabled and disadvantaged groups, with university students, with theatre groups and with film actors. The system also draws on what other teachers, directors and actors have taught me, whether through working with them or though books that they have written. I teach what I know, what I believe in.

The methodologies I employ put the onus of learning, discovering, creating and problem-solving onto the students. The objective of empowering students is at the heart of good teaching.”

But can acting be taught?

“I believe that acting can be taught, even to someone who seems to have been born an actor. There’s a saying that talent is like water. Without a vessel to contain it, it’s useless. What is the vessel for talent? Technique.”

And the line to success in the film world involves honesty, hard work, and being realistic:

“At BJAS, each student is encouraged to connect with feelings and behaviors that are authentic and truthful rather than contrived…but beyond all the technical and aesthetic aspects of an actor’s education, our Diploma courses enlighten and instruct students in the launching and building of careers as actors. An actor’s personality and talent together constitute a product, which needs … creative and efficient business management to become a popular brand.”

 

Barry John at the Jagran Film Fest

The second day of India’s BIG Travelling Film Festival, the Jagran Film Festival, currently in Mumbai on a seven-day schedule, saw the audience enjoying Barry John, the British-born Indian theatre director, who has trained many Bollywood biggies like Shah Rukh Khan and Manoj Bajpayee. People were thrilled to have “the Man himself” from Barry John Acting Studio. Barry Sir was an instant hit with the crowd as he shared his treasure trove of knowledge of the theatre world and his outlook towards present-day Bollywood.

In a separate interview, conducted the same day with Sonup from “Bollywoodwallah”, Barry Sir offered his opinions on theatre, actors, the current state of Bollywood nepotism, and other topics.

Q: What are the prerequisites to “become an actor”?

Barry: It is a long list but to sum up you’ve got to look at yourself. You have to find out about the world of acting and what actually is involved. Many of us are still living in a dream world. We dream about becoming film stars and becoming rich and famous. You got to move way beyond that. If you want to make it your career, you got to move beyond that dream world and live in reality. You have know how films are made, what it takes, how much money is involved and how much time it takes…what is acting. There is so much to learn. You have no excuse not to go to the internet and find out the answers for all these questions and gain knowledge. And if you want to spend your life acting, you very well find out what is acting all about.

Q: Not many actors who started out with theatre return to it after making it big in films. Why do you think that happens?

Barry: That’s their choice. May be they get used to being paid so much more. But there many who do return…at least in the West. Here we have Shabana Azmi, Kulbhushan Kharbandaand a few others doing theatre. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t value and appreciate what they have learnt in theatre. It is a different ball than standing in front of the camera. It is live audience and it is more thrilling to get instant feedback.

Do you rue the fact that there are not many trained actors doing films today?

Barry: It is surprising isn’t it. I mean you think now with so much more money at stake and demands of producing more skills and artistic projects, it should have happened. Technology though has managed to keep pace. I can’t explain why we still don’t have so many trained people enough in a major film production or in a professional film.They are not trained at all. They have never even seen a training school or acting school. They have never even acted in a play just because they are somebody’s niece or nephew.

Q: So it is nepotism all the way?

Barry: Yes, of course. Very much so. It is very much a monopoly. Everyone knows that Bollywood film industry is monopolistic, meaning it all happens here in this city and nowhere else. Our films travel to Europe, America, China. They travel everywhere but they are made here. There is a complete family monopoly over film production which I am not sure is a healthy thing.

Q: So what could actors do to break this monopoly. Long time ago, Shah Rukh Khan did that in the 90s. Do you foresee anyone doing the same in today’s time and age?

Barry: Who has done it since SRK? No one. [Barry misses Kangana Ranaut, among others.] Roles are very few and the space is very limited for these stellar types. But there are other films being made which is nice to know. The more independent and experimental kind of pictures which stars will not be interested in doing and will not take the gamble of doing since they know it is not a sure fire success. But younger, more adventurous actors would. And they do.

Q: Talking about younger actors, you have trained star sons like Varun Dhawan and Dulquer Salmaan. How do you see them?

Barry: Dulquer?

Q: You have trained Dulquer Salmaan right?

Barry: No. [In fact, Dulquer joined a three-month weekend course in Mumbai].

Q: Okay. Varun Dhawan then?

Barry: Varun Dhawan yes, But he was a special case. Q: Why special case?

Barry: Normally I don’t take children of stars or directors. They are a pain in the a**. Very difficult to deal with. Very temperamental. But having said that Varun Dhawan and Arjun Kapoor have been the only two star sons I have trained. They have been buddies for ever. So they joined together. They were fantastic. They were low key, played down who they were, fitted in very nicely. I had great fun with them.

Q: SRK always credits you for the actor he is today. Why do you modestly decline from taking credit? Barry: Because it is a fact. Yes, we came together and worked in theatre. It was most enjoyable and beneficial to both of us. But then he moved out. He is on another planet today. I don’t have any communication with him.

Q: Could share your memories of Theatre Action Group (TAG)?

Barry: Memories of TAG are always really fond and precious. What TAG achieved back then was remarkable and that too without any sponsorship We had little support from ITC but now cigarettes can’t sponsor anything. But yes, TAG was phenomenal. Every year we could churn out 6-8 productions.

Q: Any one film actor whose performance bowled you over in recent times?

Barry: I was moved to tears after watching Manoj Bajpai in Aligarh. He invited me to a special screening and after the film I couldn’t speak. I hugged him. He had suddenly become so mature. It was an incredible character study he had performed without being violent, overt and in a very quiet yet so powerful manner.

*******

The Festival began on 1st July 2017 in Delhi, touring the length and breadth of the country to bond with people from all walks of life, in the world of cinema. In its last leg of the journey, the Jagran Film Festival concluded in Cinepolis, Andheri West. Over 130 screenings took place showcasing a stellar a line-up of films from across the world. Some of the prominent sections of the Festival are World Panorama, Indian Showcase, Jagran Shorts, Jagran Discovery, Country Focus and the Retrospective of films.

The 2017 edition of Jagran Film Festival has traversed from Delhi to the Indian hinterlands of Kanpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Dehradun, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bhopal, Indore, Hisar, Ludhiana, Meerut, Raipur, and will now culminate in Mumbai. Barry John Acting Studio conducted workshops on Film Acting in most of these cities, which were well attended and greatly appreciated.