Lucknow's theatre stalwart Anil Mishra 'Guruji' wins Akademi Award, scripts history!

With an illustrious journey of 34 years in pursuit of art, 'Guruji' has received a much-deserved feat.

With the announcement of the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Academy Awards, a city dweller is filled with immense joy and pride. Winning the Akademi Award, Lucknow's Anil Mishra 'Guruji' has scripted his name in the glorious records of the acclaimed institution. Starting out his career in 1986, the stage and drama stalwart has written scripts for 14 plays, directed another 24 and portrayed different characters through his acting in 10 plays.

34 years of rigorous hard work & dedication!

Being recognized for his talent and creativity after 34 years of rigorous work and dedication, the artist received a much-deserved accomplishment. A graduate from Vidyant Hindu Degree College, he also undertook a diploma degree course in acting from Lucknow University in 1996. Conferred with the title 'Guruji' by his students and disciples, the writer-director-actor inspires everyone by the usage of the traditional gurukul system in his stage workshops. For his living, Anil'ji runs a small shop at Wala Qadar Road in Lucknow's Qaiserbagh.

Speaking to Knocksense about his unique style, Anil said,"Rangmanch me jo hai, gurukul nahi hai. Kathak mein hai, gyan mein hai, nritya mein hai, lekin rangmanch me koi gurukul ki parampara nhi hai, to ek hadd tak main ye bhi kahunga, ki thoda hi sahi, anshik hi sahi, humne rangmanch mein gurukul ki parampara sthapit ki"." Through his focused and grounded methods of teaching, the playwright has been successful in redefining modern workshops, on the lines of a gurukul.

Motivated by cultural and peoples' movements

Though the award would bring more responsibilities for Anil'ji, he expects no hurdles in his future journey. He tells that post the advent of globalisation in India in the early 1990s, art evolved as a market commodity. Over-shadowed by a business-oriented mindset, the industry of performing arts been marked by a significant compromise in the purity of genres and the true value of art forms. It is only, some conscientious workers like 'Guruji' who have been determined to preserve arts in their original form, unfazed by the contemporary developments.

Anil'ji also said that he has actively deployed his skills in cultural and peoples' movements through nukkad nataks and stage shows, highlighting the plight of the exploited and the marginalised. During his illustrious journey of 34 years, Anil'ji has also penned down a book on nukkad natak because he feels that there isn't enough literature available in this field.

Further, Anil'ji believes that this art evolved beautifully in the late 20th century inspired by the mass movements witnessed in those times. He feels a deep sense of attachment for the great playwright and director, Safdar Hashmi, in whose memory, he conducts nukkad nataks and plays every year.

A life completely dedicated to the pursuit of art!

When questioned about how he balances his personal life along with work, he mentioned that he has always been preoccupied with his work of writing and journalism. He said that he has been writing for a number of publications since the year 1989. Working at a number of organisations in a range of capacities from being a reporter to a columnist, he has donned many hats. Surrounded by his ambitions of reading, writing, and social work, he hardly has found time for personal pursuits.

Speaking of the new youth entering the field, Anil said, "Kuchh seekhna nahi chahte, bahut kuchh paana chahte hai". While the present generation opts for starting ventures without sufficient training, even the quality of coaching is substandard in most institutes. With the growing levels of industrialisation, our desires for money and materialistic wishes have multiplied marring the construct of relationships and human values, he tells. Not just in Lucknow, the social fabric in the entire country has been flaked by such alarming concerns.

"Ye subah zindagi ko shaam karne jaa raha hai..."

During the early 2000s, Anil'ji presented a Marathi work 'Gandhi Math Bhetla' on stage, which won him quite a few acclaims and rewards. His stage act has also inspired a film called 'Parrots' which has been premiered in sixty countries across the world, winning awards in over thirty to forty nations.

He has also enjoyed reading the works of Dr. Bashir Badr, Gopal Das 'Neeraj' amongst others. Remembering his favourite artists from Lucknow he recounts a sher, close to his heart, that talks of children, "Ye subah zindagi ko shaam karne jaa raha hai, Sunehre khwaab sab neelam karne jaa raha hai, Jise ab in dinon skool jaana chahie, wo bachcha das baras ka kaam karne jaa rha hai"

When a person's merit is recognised during the times of his struggle, it inspires him with more responsibilities. At this point in life, when he has received the award, Anil'ji is happy but he feels that this feat came very late to him.

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