Feisal Alkazi remembers the ‘live wire’ Ashiesh Roy

November 24, 2020 7:10:22 pm

Ashiesh Roy passed away on Tuesday. (Photos: Ashiesh Roy/Facebook and Express Archive)

I can’t remember the exact date but it was between 1990 and 1992 when Ashiesh Roy and his close friend Varsha, who was also an actor, approached me to act with them. Varsha had already worked with me. We had done Tartuffe for Shri Ram Centre. Ashiesh and I worked on the wonderful play Odhni, based on the story Kenchuli by Vijaydan Detha. Kenchuli means the sloughed-off skin of a snake, and I was keen to do it as a theatre piece.

We worked with seven or eight actors in Odhni, and Ashiesh was one of the major leads. We did it in an interesting way, in that I didn’t start with the script. I worked with actors directly from the story itself. Then, I thought I wanted to do it outdoors, and we did it at Triveni Kala Sangam, but behind the building under a tree. I got mud and created a floor there. Ashiesh delivered a fantastic performance. He played the character called Bhoja, who is the sidekick of the thakur, who wants to sleep with the new bride who has been brought to the village. It was one of the rare plays, which my father (Ebrahim Alkazi) and aunt (Pearl Padamsee) saw, and they said, ‘This is the most perfect theatre piece, we have ever seen in our lives’. We took the play to NCPA in Mumbai and then to Pune.

I greatly enjoyed working with Ashiesh. Everybody knew him as Bond as his ringtone was the James Bond theme tune and he referred to himself as Bond.

Ashiesh also played the lead in Panchatantra, a play that had six actors and was based on a script by Kamala Ramchandani. Panchatantra was done through improvisation, and every show was a bit different. We did 25 shows in three months. It was a travelling show – very inventive and lots of fun. Ashiesh also did a small role in my dramatisation of Kusum Ansal’s novel Rekhakriti. I was invited to bring light-hearted plays to Pragati Maidan during the trade fair, and I made a comedy called Mr Kaun, in which Ashiesh played a cricket buff. Then, he went off to Mumbai. When he did a revival of Rekhakriti five years later, in the late ’90s, he came back to do some shows in Delhi and Pune.

Ashiesh was a delight, and we shared a good rapport. He was totally fun. We all had a whale of a time with him. He was a live wire.

(As told to Dipanita Nath)

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