All that actor and founder of Theatre Nisha, V Balakrishnan wanted was to create a space of his own, an auditorium where he can host his productions. This took him on a long journey from New Delhi to Chennai. “I enrolled at Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts when I was doing my undergraduation at Delhi. It was part-time and I had the opportunity to tour India with big directors like Habib Tanvir and BV Karanth,” he says, about the beginning of his tryst with theatre. After several plays in Chennai, he started his own theatre group in 2000. “I approached the British Council and they agreed to support my first production, Ashes to Ashes.” The group performs across India and also organises plays in colleges, schools and MNCs. He also teaches students at Balu Mahendra Film Institute, Asian College Of Journalism, LV Prasad Academy for Film and Television Studies and in schools like Alpha and Omega and Sankalp, all in Chennai.
What did college teach you?
I did economic honours at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce and specialised in acting at National School Of Drama, Delhi. Both these places taught me how to survive in this world, doing what you love.
Your proudest moment in college.
In the years 1991-92, when I was in my first-year of college, there was a big problem with using the words ‘Vande Mataram’ in plays. We performed a street play with the issue of reservation as its theme and opened the play singing the same song. There was a good response from people about this play we sang the song in the context of social/political issues in the country.
How did you score points with the opposite gender?
I do have a lot of female friends and I have been told that I am very good. (Laughs). I had a jovial relationship with all my friends in college and there never was any problems.
Was bunking a part of your college routine?
I have never bunked classes. I loved economics and made sure I attended every class. Of course, I did miss certain classes when I was practicing for theatre or participating in street plays, but I have never intentionally bunked classes.
Did you have any rifts with professors?
I am very fortunate to have come under excellent teachers and professors, be it in my graduation or postgraduation tenure. My relationship with professors did not have any unpleasantness, but I was involved in strikes due to certain administrative issues. This did not cause a disturbance because even before the strikes took shape, the college authorities would solve the issue.
Where did you hang out in college?
In my three years of college, I watched only three movies. I used to hang out in the college corridors with my friends. I was not interested in going out as I was often tied up with theatre. I also lived far from college, so travelling also took up my time.
What extracurricular activities were you involved in?
Acting and theatre were always present in my life. I was also the president of the economic society in college. We organised political debates, symposiums, forums and competitions. It was the time when privatisation was coming up in the country and we had some interesting debates and meetings with political parties.