Having appeared in more than 26 plays, Dhiraj Kumar is no newbie in the theatre industry. He has also directed quite a few plays namely Natun Suruj, Buddhuram, Burha Burhi Aru Siyal, Kanchani and more. But that is not the end of it, he is also associated with television (Doordarshan) and has even directed a short film named ‘BHOK’. He is most definitely a talented artiste from the Northeast you should know about.
The Initial Years
Born to Arjun Ch Kumar and Anju Kumar, he resides in Gotanagar area of Guwahati. An accountancy graduate from Gauhati Commerce College, he holds a one-year Acting Diploma from Seagull Theatre Academy. He got inspired to act after watching local competitions near his home. ‘In our area, Basanti Puja is celebrated every year, and the organizer held a two-day one act drama competition for a few years. I enjoyed the performances a lot when I was a child. I thought that I can also become an actor and perform on stage and TV, and receive appreciation and respect from the audience. That is when I fell in love with acting.’ To sharpen his skills, he has also attended quite a few drama workshops held by the National School of Drama. He also received a Junior Fellowship in the subject ‘Reflecting the Social Consciousness in Modern Assamese Drama during Post Assam Agitation’ from the Ministry of Culture Affairs, Government of India in 2013.
The First Step
Even though he has been part of quite a few plays over the years, he still fondly remembers his first one. ‘I cannot forget my first play Natun Suruj which was written by me in 2003. I was excited and anxious because I did not have any writing experience and I was not a trained person.’ He also reveals that the character he played in Natun Suruj named Apu remains the most memorable till date as it was his first performance in a drama.
Dhiraj has worked with many with distinguished theatre personalities such as Ram Gopal Bajaj, Baharul Islam, Bhagirathi, Gunakar Dev Goswami, Rabijita Gogoi, Jyoti Narayan Nath and the like. One personality who inspires him to push himself every day is none other than Ratan Thiyam. ‘I saw a play directed by him, Nine Hills, One Valley, in 2008 at Poorvottar Natya Mela and I was impressed by his work. His design and direction was excellent.’
Between acting and directing, Dhiraj shares that the latter is more challenging. In acting, you have to analyse the character, maintain the characteristics, remember the dialogue, justify the character which is already quite challenging but in direction, it is much more complex because you need to have a clear picture in your mind about what you want to show, have a clear understanding of the composition, graph and structure of the play, and at the same time, you have to think about light, costumes, sets and everything else related to the drama.
When he is not working, Dhiraj likes to relax by watching movies, catching up on the news and reading books. He also spends quality time with his friends whenever he has some time off.
He recently performed in the play ‘Indipiti‘ written and directed by Pranjal K Saikia at the 22nd Nata Surjya Phani Sharma Theatre Festival. Right now, he is busy working on the project Tajmahalar Nibida. ‘Our previous year production, the play is still running and we will perform it in Rang Pratibha – Festival Of Plays by Young Theatre Directors. Organized by Sangeet Natak Academy, it will be held on 28-31 August 2017, Nagaon, Assam.’
By Meeta Borah