All posts by Dan Husain

I am still at the drawing board...

Few Hearts to Live for

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Photographs by Amruta Mehta

Just when Shantuben held her meditative poise at a Vipassana camp at Igatpuri on the morning of January 26, 2001, her dream turned to rubble back home in Bhuj. When she reached home, her labour of love of the last 5 years was gone, razed to the ground. It all had to start afresh. Continue reading Few Hearts to Live for

An Actor’s Journey from Text to Performance

The revival of Dastangoi completed six years this month

Whenever I begin preparing for a new performance words sit heavy in front of me as boulders. Alien, unknown boulders.  I look up and I see them littered till wherever my eyes can see. I do not know these words. I did not create them. I do not know their context. I do not know what all they hide within. But I have to deal with them.

This is one of the fundamental struggles of an actor. To grapple with the text he intends to perform. Every time I encounter a new text for performance this line from Noon Meem Rashed’s iconic poem “Zindagi Se Darte Ho” comes to haunt me:  Continue reading An Actor’s Journey from Text to Performance

Before We Tape Our Mouths Forever…

It’s always better to begin with a caveat. Sets the tone, and prepares readers for what not to expect. I am one of those self-obsessed people who seldom see beyond their existence. I google my name twice a week, and inevitably find other people getting enriched when conversing with me. It’s an achievement if I could rescue their names from these conversations for my memory. So, you can imagine now my level of awareness.

But once in a while something gets my goat and then I start reading about it. One of those things has been the Nira Radia tapes recently. I first saw a mail from a friend in my inbox with the transcripts and links to the audio versions. I read the scripts and followed the audio links. It led me to more links. And soon I found it was all over the virtual world. First it was Nira Radia and Barkha Dutt, then Nira Radia and Vir Sanghvi, then Nira Radia and Ratan Tata, then Nira Radia and A. Raja, then… I don’t know what else is there. I was like what the f*#@? They just kept stumbling out. I thought Amar Singh was the most tapped guy but then I stopped following politics long back. I am told now that these days he doesn’t even make it to the 7th page. Continue reading Before We Tape Our Mouths Forever…

A Kingdom of Crabs…

A kingdom of crabs ascends

here on stones

heavy enough to sink our faith

if we tie it to them.


But a mile away

from this promenade

my friend sucking a succulent crab leg

quips, the only way to pin

these bastards down

is to press with the index finger

their carapace to the ground.


Ah! The heavist thing

these legs carry

makes them a morsel

for a sea screaming I’m hungry!



The Fascinating Triumph of Rakesh Belal

I bet you’ve seen Rakesh Belal. He is ubiquitous. An 18-year-old dropout, the sort found in trackpants and a fake Nike t-shirt outside shantytown video parlours and ramshackle gyms anywhere across the country. But this is not how we found him. It was the summer of 1996, and we were setting off from New Delhi railway station, going to Ghazipur for Muharram. We were in our compartment, when we noticed a boy, scavenging for food. The innocence of his face captured Mom’s heart. She gave him something to eat, and Dad gestured at him to come inside. Once with us, he settled down as if he had always been part of the family. When the train moved, Mom and Dad found it hard to send him away. And soon Rakesh Belal was en route to Ghazipur too.

Belal was not his real name. He was Rakesh Singh from a village in Uttar Pradesh called Hauwwapura. He had no clue where it was, but knew that the nearest city was Agra. His father’s name he gave as “Jungli Singh” — which we later found out to be Jungani Singh — and his mother’s name was Shanti Devi. His father was dead and his mother had left home. He had lived once with an aunt, but she ill-treated him, pushing him to leave home. In Delhi, he found refuge at a constable’s home, but was mistreated there too. Having fled that place as well, he was caught later by the authorities and thrown into a correction facility — an abysmal institution, where the rooms were cramped, the food miserable and the older kids were vicious to the younger ones. Finally he escaped, and that’s when we found him on the platform.

Continue reading The Fascinating Triumph of Rakesh Belal