Arvind Gaur

Theatre Activist,Arvind Gaur,Eminent Indian Theatre Director,who heads the Delhi based Theatre group ASMITA is committed to innovative,meaningful,socially relevant theatre.Starting off as a journalist and working for sometime for the electronic media, he set up ASMITA and earned a reputation in theatre circle in India and abroad.Debut play of ASMITA is Bhisham Sahani's 'HANUSH" played in Feburary,1993.

Workshops & performances Edit

Arvind Gaur has conducted many theatre workshops and performed in various Colleges, Institutions, Universities and Schools in India and abroad such as Stanford, Harvard University, Stony Brook University, Smithsonian ( Washington DC), Nehru Centre( London),Jawaharlal Nehru University,IILM, I.I.T.(Delhi),AIIMS ,Mother International,Delhi Public Schoo(Noida)& Sahyadri school,Pune,J.Krishnamurti Foundation,India,DPS(R.K.Puram,Teachers workshop),School of Planning and Architecture, Gargi,Hindu, Lady Sri Ram,Kamla Nehru college,Aditi and IP college. He was also the guest faculty of Delhi University for Theatre in education program for three years.He has also conducted theatre workshops for Actors and Directors at Houston, USA and India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

Working for Social Issues

Arvind Gaur also conduct many theatre workshops for children in schools and slums as well as Street Theatre performances on different socio-political issues.He belives in socio-political relevent theatre.His plays deals against Castism, communalism,Domestic Voilence,abuses,brutality;Crimes of the state,Anti people policies,feudalism etc.

He directed more than 25 street plays.He performed various Social plays in collaboration with organizations like Theatre World, British Council (Chennai), NSD, SKP and Sangeet Natak Akademi, India Habitat Centre, Paridhi,Delhi Public Library, Katha,Bahroop, Banjara Theatre group (IIT, Khargpur),IIC, Rainbow Cavaliers, M.Dot Band (Jaipur),Vivchana (Jabalpur), Prithvi Theatre Festival (platform theatre IHC, 2004), Ladies Club( IIT Bombay) and NGOs like Mobile Creches, Action-Aid, Haq, PCVC, Times Foundation, Deepalaya , Miralaya, Heinrich Boll Foundation, Asian Social Forum, Youthreach, World Social Forum etc.

Solo Shows(one Man Show) Edit

Director Arvind Gaur has also collaborated with various Theatre artists and Groups specially in exploring a new language for Solo performances which includes Madhavi by Rashi Bunny ,'Women in Black' by Bubbles Sabharwal," Untitled Solo" by Lushin Dubey (Theatre World)and Dario fo's 'Story of the Tiger', solo by Jaimini Kumar Srivastava Not only have these plays received great audience response from important metropolis of India, "Women in black" was invited to perform in Dubai and "Untitled Solo" was performed in Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Boston, Rochester, San francisco, Ohio in USA and at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival. With Rashi Bunny , young actress trained in Theatre design at University of Alabama at Birmingham and Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA Arvind Gaur has directed four solo plays. Bhishma Shani's "Madhavi ", Manjula Padmanabhan's 'Hidden Fires',Antoine De Saint-Exupery's The little Prince (play) and 'Walking through the Rainbow',Madhavi & Hidden fires has received rave reviews all over and have been invited to perform for Mahindra's Old World Theatre Festival, Vivachana National Theatre Festival, Jabalpur, Muktibodh Natyaotsav raipur, 5th National Theatre Festival Balaghat, World Social forum Mumbai and National School Of Drama (N.S.D.), Satta Festival Jaipur, Theatre Club J.N.U., PCVC, and Queen's Award Project (UK) for Communal Harmony.

Bhishma Sahni's MADHAVI by Rashi Bunny received special award last year for best play in experimentation with tradition at International Solo Theatre Festival, Armenia. "Madhavi" was invited at International Theatre Festival, NIZHNEVARTOVSK , Russia and frecently at International Theatre festival,France. Pinki Virani ’s "Bitter Chocolate " a new solo by Lushin Dubey directed by Arvind gaur was also performed at Harvard (USA) & at Nehru Centre, London.

“ Gandhari” solo performance by Aishveryaa Nidhi was directed & performed at NIDA theatre , Sydney. Recently with British actress Ruth Sheard, he has directed two solo plays- Sarah Kane’s “4.84 Psychosis” and Dario Fo- Franca Rama’ s “A woman alone”.

Direction Edit

In the past 15 years, he has directed 52 major plays which include Girish Karnad's Tuglaq and Rakt Kalyan, Dharamveer Bharti's Andha Yug, Swadesh deepak's Court Martial(450 shows), G P Deshpande's Antim Divas, Albert Camus' Caligula, Mahesh Dattani's Final Solutions ,Tara & 30 Days in September, Eugene O'neill 's Desire Under the Elms, Dario Fo's An Accidental death of an Anarchist, Dr.Narenda Mohan's Kalandar, Bertolt Brecht's Good Woman of Setzuan and Caucasian chalk circle, Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot, John Octanasek's Romeo Juliet and the darkness, Neil Simon's The Good Doctor, Vijay tendulakr's Ghairam Kotwal,Munshi Premchand'sMoteram ka Satyagrah, Ashok Lal's Ek Mamooli aadmi, Rajesh Kumar's Me Gandhi Bolto ,Vijay Mishra 's Tatt Niranjana, Doodnath Singh's Yama Gatha,Women in Black ( written & acted by Bubbles Sabharwal) ,Untitled Solo by Lushin dubey, Uday Prakash's Warren Hastings ka Saand, Pinki Virani's Bitter Chocolate,(solo by lushin Dubey),Bhishma Sahani's Madhavi & Manjula Padmanbhan' Hidden Fires ( both solo by actress Rashi Bunny),Walking Through the Rainbow(joint production with PCVC, solo by Rashi Bunny)Doodnath Singh's Yama Gatha,Gandhari (solo by Aishveryaa Nidhi)&Harsh Mander's Unsuni(Script by Mallika Sarabhai)


He designs lights for NAYA Theatre under the Direction of Shri Habib Tanvir.

Doc.Films Edit

He worked as assistant Director with Eminent Theatre Personality Prasanna.He also acted in one film Dhabba directed by Mike Pandey & produced by Nafisa Ali.

Prominent Actor's who worked with Arvind Gaur Edit

Kangana Ranawat( Films- Fashion,Metro, Wo Lamhe,Gangster etc, Filmfare awrd 2007)

Deepak Dobriyal( Filmfare award for Omkara film latest movie Shoriya)

Shilpa Shukhla(Chek de India, Bindia Nayak)

Shakti Anand (TV star)

Lushin Dubey (Solo Plays-Untitled solo & Pinki Virani's Bitter Chocolate)

Bubbles Sabharwal(Prominent Writer & Acted solo in Play Arts and Paradox)

Aishverya Nidhi( Sydny based actress,acted in Gandhari Staged at NIDA)

Rashi Bunny(Solo Plays-Madhavi,Hidden Fires)

Ruth Sheard(British Actress)

Dinesh Singh

Piyush Mishra (Acted in Operation Three Star & Court Martial)

Tilotama Shome (Monsoon Wedding)

Manu Rishi Chaddha ( Acted in Mithyya film,talented Actor & Script Writer)

Akhilesh Kumar (Praveen), Acted in Boolywood Dreams

Seema azmi (Chek De India)

Jaimini Kumar Srivastava ( acted in Tughlaq & Andha Yug, AIR Senior Reporter)

Archna Joshi(Play-Desire Under The Elms ,prominent Script writer,serials)

Deepak Ochani ( Brg. Surat Singh Fame in Court Martial)

Susan Brar (Play-Yama Gatha,Final Solutions,Mr. Jinna, Court Martial)

Shyam Kumar(Director & Actor,Natsamrat Theatre Group)

Chandan Anand(Ghasiram Kotwal)

Rajesh Bagotra(Film-Parjania)

Ajay Bhalhara(Model & Actor)

Sapna Khatana (Talented Theatre Actress)

Naveen Tyagi,Kranti Pratap Singh,Wassim khan,Manu Tyagi,Sandeep Srivastava,asad Khan, Manoj Tyagi,Vijay Singh,Haider Hashmi, Gaurav Srivastava,Garima,Aparna Singh,Shalini Singh, Nandini Arora,Ashish Sharma, Vishnu Prasad,Asish Nijavan,Pragit Pandit,Prasant Singh, Himansu Roy,Arun Pandey(Vivachana,Jabalpur team),Amita Walia,Amit Rana,Mohmad Ali,Taun Chawan, Amit Kholi,Ajeet,Shekhar,Sahil Suri,Rao,RajShree,Rahul Batra,Raghav Marwah,Monali Adewar, Kamini Prasad, Pushp Raj Rawat,Mohit Tripathi,Vipul,Shiraz Khan,Shilpi Marwaha,Viren Basoya , Bajrang Bal Singh and more than 500 talented actors...

External Links Edit

1-About Asmita theatre

2-Time Out Magazine

3-The Hindu-Walking the causeway

4-YouTube videos

5-about solo Gandhari

6-show at British Council


Nalina Mittra catches up with Arvind Gaur to find out more about his journey


He believes in marching to his own drumbeat and has been creating a buzz in theatre circle because of his novel and socially relevant theatre.After dabbling in journalism and electronic media,he set up ASMITA theatre group in 1993, and hasn't looked back since then.With plays like 'Bitter chocolate','Untitled Solo(by Lushin Dubey), Women in Black ( solo By Bubbles sabharwal),'Hidden Fires '& 'Madhavi'(both solo by Rashi Bunny),He has earned a reputation not just in India but abroad as well.

How did your passion for theatre start?

I used to read about plays in newspapers in my school days, and that fascinated me. Later I joined the drama group of Delhi Public Library. I acted in and directed various plays and I enjoyed this whole process a lot. I was doing my PG Diploma in Engineering from Pusa Institute but left it in between and started working with Navbharat Times as a journalist. So watching plays, reading about them and writing about them, that is how, in a way, my training in theatre started. Then I worked with kids for some time and conducted workshops for them. My first street play was with Zakir Husain College,called 'Videshi Aya'.It became very popular and we staged the play in around 500-600 schools, and it went on for 3-4 years. Then I joined PTI TV.I was in the production team of the serial 'Tana Bana' and assisted in some documentaries. After leaving that I came into theatre full time. I think that search for theatre was probably there since the beginning, which is why I dabbled in so many things and finally came into theatre.

Theatre is such an uncertain career. Did your family accept your decision of taking theatre as a profession?

See, a middle class family always wants their kids to take up safe options. But I had this habit of leaving jobs since the beginning, so my family started accepting that I'll do what my heart says. They never specifically said that you have to do this or that. I faced some problems but I kept working, and they accepted it. How you convince your family depends on you. Because families normally don't accept such offbeat or should I say risky options. Even today I don't earn much money, but my family has always supported me.

How and when did you think of forming the Asmita theatre group?

After leaving PTI TV in 1992, I worked in a few productions. Then I felt that I should form a group with which I'll do regular work. So that is how ASMITA was formed in January 1993. I gathered some friends and formed the group. The first play we staged was 'Hanush' by Bhishma Sahni.It was for a youth festival. It was appreciated a lot and we had many repeat shows. Then we prepared for the next play and then it kept happening. I had thought that I will work in theatre for some time and then I'll learn fiction, as I had learnt the documentary part while working with PTI TV. But my fiction was weak. So I had thought that after learning fiction I'd look for work outside. But I couldn't leave theatre. Now I feel there is so much to learn and to do.

What problems did you face when you started the group?

The first problem we faced was that of gathering actors. In the beginning we called our friends, and called actors from here and there. We worked as a team; theatre is a platform for collective work. Everyone had his share of responsibilities in acting, music, set designing. I was working as a catalyst butit was basically a team effort. Then there were other problems. The main actor (who was a professional actor) of our fist play 'Hanush' refused to act. Four hours before the play he told us that he wouldn't act if we don't pay him. We didn't have money and we had to do the play. So the whole team satdown and it was decided that I'd do the role with the script, as there was no time to learn the dialogues. All of us went on stage before starting the play and told the audience about the problem. The play started and there was so much tension that I was not even able to read the script properly. But the audience supported us and the play was a success .We received good reviews and this encouraged us a lot.We learnt from this episode, that if you have announced the play then it should be staged, no matter what happens. Secondly, the whole cast should be ready to do anyone's role. Thirdly, we learnt that we have to train our own actors. We trained the new people who came to us. After2-3 years, we had our own set of trained actors. The biggest problem we faced, though, was in terms of money and that is something we face today as well. Earlier we used to practice on a flat's terrace in Shankar market. Now we pay the rent and work under open area under a peepal tree in Raja Ram Mohan Memorial Trust.(Recently his group shifted to anew venue-Navshati school, opp. Hindi Bhawan,ITO )Everyone keeps complaining about money, but I think oneshould not worry too much over this. We never had money for tea. We used to maintain a piggy bank and everyone contributed money to it everyday. We didn't have money to rent the hall for our first play. So we borrowed Rs.600 and staged the play. Our rehearsals were stopped for two days, as we hadn't paid the rent for the rehearsal place since 3 months. Then we again borrowed some money and paid the rent. We worked with minimum possible things. We used to take the addresses of the audience and send them hand-made postcards. But we kept doing regular work.Somehow things start falling in place When you are committed. The auditorium people lend you halls, the laundry man irons clothes for free. People trust your sincerity.

On what basis do you select people for your group?

Selecting actors for the group and for the play are two different things. I give a chance to anyone who comes to me, but the person should be committed and disciplined. The training is very difficult. You have to do a lot of work; one needs patience. New people practice in the group and receive training. We select actors for plays from the group only. We don't do auditions outside. After working with the person we get to know his strengths and weaknesses and that helps to do the casting. If I am working with some other group then I work with their actors.

Tell us something about your rehearsal sessions.

An actor needs a warm-up. When he comes for the rehearsal he carries all sorts of tensions in his head – career, family, finance and other things. He needs an environment where he is free of all these things to be able to work with concentration. I start with exercises—physical, relaxation and speech. This, in a way, detaches the actor from outside world and he becomes a part of this environment and gives his best. Acting needs understanding. For an actor mental growth is very necessary. We have discussions on explanations of characters and we discuss interpretations of the play with the actors. This is our internal working process.

You have done a lot of work,not just in India but abroad as well.Which countries did you take your plays to?

I have conducted various workshops for actors and directors in Delhi (with India Habitat Centre), Kolkata, Chennai, Houston, USA and at many other places.Other ventures include 'Women in Black'by Bubbles Sabharwal ,in collaboration with Theatre World which was staged in UAE. I also directed "Untitled Solo" by Lushin Dubey,which was staged in 12 cities in USA and at the Edinburgh theatre festival.Then the play based on Shri Bhishma Sahni's "Madhavi",a solo performance by Rashi Bunny,has travelled widely for various theatre festivals and has received great appreciation and received the Best Performance award at the International Solo Festival at Armenia in 2004.

Have you noticed any changes in theatre scene of Delhi in the last 15 years?

In our times, all the classes of the societies used to watch theatre—clerks, rickshaw pullers,shopkeepers, workers and a lot of students. But now the audience is primarily that of upper-middle and upper class people. There has been a change in the subjects accordingly. Entertainment has become the dominant factor. The play should be entertaining, but that shouldn't be the sole criterion. Moreover, theare has become a bit difficult in the last few years. The cost of auditoriums has increased, there are less rehearsal places and plays need too much marketing. But I feel there is no difference in the commitment levels of new actors. But they need to be channelised. I believe the biggest hurdle for the theatre movement is the fact that, the elder people of theatre are not doing anything for theatre. There are 7 IIT s in the country and Delhi itself has more than 50 colleges. But there is just 1 NSD, which produces 20 students. We spend crores of rupees on their training, but when they come out they have very few opportunities so most of them leave for Mumbai.We should have more drama schools.

What message would you like to give to the college students?

College is a golden period. If you have an inclination towards theatre then take part in plays during this time. If you get interested, you can join a theatre group later. But keep doing regular work. An advice for theatre groups is , that if you want to develop campus theatre, then think beyond competitions and annual productions.Do regular work even if that means working with minmum resources.Struggle is a part of work to increase your experiences.


Know Your Artist/AROUND TOWN MAG.

He has dared to turn a latent desire into a profession. He has successfully dealt with socio-political issues in a commercially led "what sells is hot" environment. His group Asmita is one of the leading names in theatre and has a long and impressive list of popular productions to its credit. Arvind Gaur, has indeed carved, for himself and the 500 young talents under him, an identity to be reckoned with. Leaving the celluloid for the less glamourous world of theatre, Arvind is a pioneer of sorts. Around Town caught up with him to get a glimpse of the person behind a formidable director.

Your background?

Though I was a science student with communication electronics, I left academics during my post graduation. It was followed by a 4-year period as a journalist for Nav Bharat Times(Times of India Group) and it was during this period that I had my first encounter with theatre through street plays for underprivileged kids. I moved on to PTI TV, did a couple of serials, documentaries and then in 1992 absolved the visual media for good for my real love- theatre.

What is Asmita?

Asmita is the theater group I formed in 1992 and its first production was Hanoosh. Asmita literally means 'identity' and it is committed to helping modern individuals find one. I have trained about 500 young actors in Asmita. The group has traveled all over the country and has received a tremendous response from everywhere.

Why theatre?

I have the opportunity to control the final product, create with total freedom and be a part of a wonderful team effort. There is no scope for ulterior motives, profit incentives or dishonesty. It is a unique way to mirror a true picture of the society. I have had no formal training in this field, so for me every day is a lesson and every fresh student, a teacher.

What do you do besides direction?

Well, I don't act since I believe in a focussed approach towards direction. Actually, I discovered that I am a better director than an actor. I conduct workshops where I provide the directorial input and guide fresh talent.

What are your favourite scripts?

Asmita chooses such scripts that hit hard at the present social scenario. They appeal to me as they reflect the crisis arising from the conflict between individual aspirations and the systems norms. Over the years it is Prasanna's work that I have consistently admire 'Uttarram Charitra', 'Fujiyama', 'Agni or Barkha' are my favourites.

What do you think of theatre audience?

Audience wise, it's unusually responsive and supportive. And from the production front I believe it is far more experimental, innovative with concepts and themes than any of the commercially influenced or regional theaters in the country.

Any earthshaking incidents?

It was the premiere of my first production ever -"Hanoosh" and my lead actor informed us in the morning that he would not perform without a prior payment. I was in dire straits without any money. I took my next best actor, trained him through the afternoon and got him ready. But then I had to substitute for his role and the catch was that I didn't know the lines. So I went upto the stage with the script and read the lines of the document. That was nerve shattering.

Hobbies and haunts?

Reading books in my room.

Aspirations and dreams?

A good play - that's what I want at the end of the day. A committed set of actors in the new generation that don't view theatre as a pass-time or a stepping stone to greater things but are really passionate about it. To work non-stop is my dream ....

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.