If theatre had money, no actor would leave it: Himani Shivpuri

If it weren’t for money, theatre artistes wouldn’t leave the profession for TV and cinema, says veteran actor Himani Shivpuri. The National School of Drama (NSD) graduate admitted it was difficult to make ends meet when she and her husband, Gyan Shivpuri, did amateur theatre work during the 1980s.

“We would make Rs 1,000 a month and at times not even that. We had a house to run, children to feed. It was very difficult. I think if theatre had any money, no actor or actress would ever leave the medium,” Shivpuri said.

The 62-year-old actor, who has worked across mediums on TV, cinema and stage, was speaking during a session on theatre and women at Rajendra Yadav Smriti Samaroh here at Bikaner House on Saturday evening. Shivpuri added that if the name, fame and money associated with showbiz is put aside, “there is no bigger satisfaction than theatre for an actor”.

“It (theatre) is more intoxicating than any drug,” she said. The recalled the time when she was kicked out of the NSD Repertory Company by theatre thespian Ram Gopal Bajaj aka ‘Bajju bhai’ for accepting the role in Doordarshan’s drama series Humrahi in the early 1990s.

“I don’t know if I should call it a blessing or what, but if Bajju bhai hadn’t kicked me out I would still be doing theatre,” she added. Shivpuri played the role of Devaki Bhaujai in Humrahi, which gained considerable popularity among the viewers. “Theatre is my first and will be my last love. You don’t forget your first love, a woman especially doesn’t forget. My seniors, including Neena Gupta, went directly to Mumbai after the NSD, but I decided to do theatre,” she added.

The actor said it was a difficult time for women to get into theatre during the 1980s. The situation, however, is changing. “The struggle is still there, but today people have started seeing theatre as the stepping stone for cinema. So it has become slightly easier.”

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