Ehsaas

Ehsaas is the dramatics society of Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra. It is one of those names with whom I have always tried to avoid an association; One of those names whom I have least appreciated; One of those names who have been very close to my heart. It's not the club that is close. It is the people who were a part of this club. It is they who have taught me some of my most important life lessons.

As usual, I don't write for anyone else to read it (that is one of the reasons I blog instead of posting such writeups on facebook). I write for myself and anybody who is interested can go through based on their interest (of course, who has the time to go through other's life?).

My journey in this club started with a workshop organized by the club in the month of August 2015. I left out all my priorities to attend this workshop. The workshop was a two-day annual dramatics workshop. Junior year students were organizers and senior year students were judges. I got to meet some brilliant talents. I met Pragya Choudhary (the then president of the society; an ocean of talent, who is sure to become a superstar in the future), Rohit Joseph, Ankur Vikash (a very down to the earth person), Avinash Mishra (the swagger boi!), Aditya Dokania, Shubham Khaitan and others. I didn't have a close interaction with the people as I was busy in understanding the technical aspects of dramatics. We were trained in 4 fields - Street play, Stage play, Mime and Standup. Anushka Ahuja was among the most talented people whom I met in the workshop. She knew all the aspects of dramatics already. Pragyananad Chandra Bhan (whose emotions flowed so swiftly) won recognition for his performance. Radhika Chabbra (always insecure about herself) and Pradeep Kumar (the jolliest guy) were a part of my team. From this point onwards, the club has always wasted a lot of my precious time and I could never learn to say NO.

A few months later, the K15s were auditioned for performing in Pantheon 2015. I was selected for Steet play. I left Fine Arts Society to give time for the practice sessions of the Street play. My first ever scene was with one of the most talented actors of our batch - Abhikant Pratyush Singh. He carried a pack of charisma with him. He swayed anyone very easily. Others from my batch were Ananya Sinha (a powerhouse with a very shrill voice; a woman with great wisdom), Ajay Gupta (who eventually ended up performing a flop play with me on Dramzest), Meera Makheeja (the most complicated girl if the college) and Harsh Verma (CSE mate). We were directed by Anureet Alhuwalia (she killed us. she forced us to practice days and nights. I even dreamt about her asking us to practice.), Mayur Abhishek (No man has even taken as much responsibility as he has taken), Anurag Panda (the upcoming president), and Akshay Deshmukh. The script was based on Medical Negligence. It was written by Ray Brish Bhanu. He had written some beautiful lines in the script. My performance was well appreciated. The Street play was, however, a disaster. Ehsaas also performed at the Pantheon night. The musical skit based on Indian Political Scenario was very well appreciated.

Ehsaas participated in the Stage play and Street Play in Spring Fest 2016. The stage play was directed by Pragya di and Tanvi di. It was knocked out in the prelims itself. Pragyanand delivered an excellent monologue and he was well appreciated. Other notable performers were Bhavya Sethi (He never lost a chance to bully others. I still wonder why he always pretended to smoke a cigarette), Chaitanya Khurana (Bhai. Bhai. He has excellent body movement control. He ended up performing a lot of mimes) and Sajal Gera (I am sure that he was there because there were girls in the play). The street play achieved the 1st position. I and Tanishka Singh (she has a leader in her) were a part of street play. We practiced all through January 2016 in the cold winters. I was very dedicated to the practice sessions (I was very new to such sessions). I always reported on time. It was also during this time that I met Nabeel Ahmed Khan, the scriptwriter; one of the most talented men of the college and extremely down to the earth. He was a superb actor. He had a very powerful voice. He was very humble as well. I also met Pratyush Prakash, Aditi Srivastava, Aakanksha Dwivedi (the one who delivered the monologue), and Nikhita Singh. The street play was based on the Menstruation and its related myths. The script was a huge success and continued to win several other competitions for Ehsaas.

Next month, Dramzest came around the corner. We were mentored by Bhanu bhaiya and Anupama di (She was a queen of mime. She was the winner of several solo performances). My first Dramzest was a disaster. I messed up the play. I delivered an epic monologue that is still used as an example to give a lesson to the juniors. I prefer not to speak about it. The only thing that I was satisfied with was Musical Skit.

Our first Bitotsav was around the corner in the month of March. I met with Piyush Agarwal who had an idea of performing in the street play competitions. Piyush was my brother from another mother. From this point onwards, he has always been with me all through this journey. He took a lot of responsibility. He was a wall for the club in his final year. Two teams were formed from the K15 batch. One was lead by Piyush and the other was lead by Abhikant. I also met Priyanshu. He was so slow and lazy. With time, I realized his potential. He was extremely talented. I realized that he shared a large similarity with my emotional stature. We soon became Chicken buddies. Others were Nikhil Kumar Das, Pradeep, Yash Deep, Anushka, Ananya, Manila Oraon, Nancy, Ekta and Keshav Kishor (Ehsaas got its labor team head from this point onwards. He was the hero of all the legendary tales of out of the box innovation that I and Priyanshu ever discussed. Some of his popular nicknames were Keshav rickshaw-wala, Keshav auto-wala, Keshav pun-pudia, Zahreela chumban-wala and Mukesh). The practice sessions were very hectic. We had no instruments with us. We begged our seniors. Nabeel bhaiya helped us with the script. Finally, we were able to bag the third position. This was also our first performance completely written and directed by us. The street play was based on Virginity. I am not at all proud of it now. But, it remains one of the most memorable performances of all time. The year ended on a positive note for the club. I made a lot of new friends.

The second year began with the K15 performing a Street play for the Independence Day. The street play was based on the Indian Armed Forces. The street play was directed by Nabeel bhaiya. It was actually Rang de Basanti performed as a play. Nevertheless, it was a huge hit. The play was well appreciated by the vice chancellor and S.K. Dhiman (the then faculty advisor of the club). Among the new talents was Ankit Raj who delivered a breath-taking monologue.

In the meantime, I had also joined Robolution - the robotics society of BIT Mesra. The entrance to the club was very difficult. I dedicated my entire summer to prepare a project for entrance to the club. After I successfully entered the club, I was unable to manage my time. Robolution had a bunch of extremely dedicated members who were ready to work days and nights to get the work done. I remember I slept for only 3-4 hours in trying to manage both the clubs. I was worn off. I decided to leave one of the clubs. It was Robolution. And I don't regret doing that. I respect all the members of Robolution. But, it was my choice to continue with Ehsaas.

Drama Nite was scheduled to be held in the month of August. I and Piyush were selected for Gayak Mandli of the Hindi play (Initially, Samadrito was supposed to be a part of it. But he left later). We tweaked the written lyrics and stole tunes from Bollywood songs to come up with our own composition. We were backed by Saumya Pandey (on keyboard) and Surbhit Ranjan (on tabla). The play that we were going to perform was Motaram ka Satyagrah. It was a political satire. However, the play was a flop. The only memorable moment was when I said "Namaste! Mishraji" on the mic and the entire CAT hall burst into laughter (the Dean of the college was B.K. Mishra). I was on the verge of getting a black dot. The show stopper was the English play. It was written by Samadrito Bose, the most prolific writer of 2K15, an attention-seeker by attitude and thought no end of himself. He wrote a suspense thriller that was well received by the audience. The play starred Anuj Sinha (It was his first and last performance for Ehsaas).

After Drama Nite, we performed a couple of street play for NSS based on Medical Negligence (Yes, the same one that we performed on Pantheon 2015. Also, the annual dramatics workshop was held. We were organizers now. The next big thing was Mood Indigo '16. It was the largest cultural college fest of Asia. We spent a lot of time figuring out if we should really go for the fest. We were looking at both sides of the coin. It was the first time that the club was going to participate in this fest. We were required to stay back the entire winter to practice for the street play competition that we were going to participate in. We signed up. We trusted our seniors. December 2016 was one of the most productive months of my life. Only 6 months were left before the start of the Internship season. I practiced dramatics in the morning hours and coding at night. Piyush, Pragyanand and I went spent the entire winter together. We supported each other a lot. We had to cycle from Hostel 7 to Hostel 1 for dinner. We performed at IIM Ranchi sometime before Mood Indigo and won the first position. We were confident enough for the competition. Nabeel bhaiya promised to get bald in case we won the competition. The play was a modified version that we performed at Spring Fest '16 - Menstruation and its related myths. It had a very energetic start. All of us were drained out by the end of the opening scene.

Our performance in the prelims round remains the best performance of Ehsaas ever in Street play. Our voice out-voiced the noise of powerful loudspeakers. We were extremely loud. We qualified for the finals. And one night before we messed up with our voice. No one was able to speak even a single word. All our throats were sore. No matter how much we tried, we could never get back our voice. We had given everything to the prelims itself. Our performance in the finals remains the worst performance of Ehsaas ever in Street Play. We managed to secure a second position in the finals. I, Bhavya and Divyansh bhaiya were the part of the vella club. We drafted 40 reasons for why the play failed. 

Immediately following Mood Indigo, Spring Fest was scheduled in the month of January 2017. We had no script. I, Piyush and Nabeel bhaiya struggled days and nights to come up with some basic outline. We completed the script just one day before the competition. The play was based on Marital Rape (this script was again going to take Ehsaas to the moon). Ashruti Upadhyay (a very perceptive person) came up with the idea of the script. This time Priyanshu was with us. Luck favored us completely. We secured the second position at Spring Fest as well. The stage play, written by Samadrito based on Juvenile justice, also secured 3rd position at Spring Fest. Sarthak Sharma (a very humble person) won the third position for his stand up comedy performance. Ehsaas had reached its new heights.

Ehsaas got a chance to perform at the Heritage Night of Bitotsav '17 (the best Bitotsav that I ever observed). We had a half-an-hour slot. I was selected for the shadow act. We were copying a famous shadow act based on the movie Titanic. Most of the actors were from the mime division of Ehsaas. They were Gaurav Suman (a very talented mime artist), Varsha di (She had a very smooth body movement that totally fitted the shadow act), Chaitanya, Manikanta bhaiya (He had a super slip flexible body) and Roshini Baid. This shadow act was a very tough performance. Once performed, it was hugely appreciated by everyone. We received a standing ovation. The musical skit was a flop. I don't even remember the reason for performing it.

Dramzest '17 was announced in the month of April 2017. This time I was teamed up with Aditi di, Neeharika Valluri, and Kanishk Mahip (He was awarded the best actor award for his performance in the play performed by Ehsaas in Spring Fest). I decided to write the play myself after Mansi Kanodia gave me a couple of ideas. It was an English play and it was the first time that an English play was performed in Dramzest. I was completely dedicated to the stage play as I had a fear of failing again. The play was titled Father. I made each one of us practice days and nights. It was important for me to get the stage play right. We did it. We were ranked behind Samadrito's play. That was an achievement. But we messed up mime and musical skit. This team was the best Dramzest team I ever got. I met Divya Kothari (she was extremely talented. I had a stereotype for her in my mind that was broken immediately), Sharanya Kumari (the best actor of the play), <who became my son> and Shatakshi Roy.

The second year ended on a high note. I learned much more than the first year. And this was also the last year in which I learned. From the next year onwards, I was only involved in management.

The third started with K15s directing the Independence Day street play. We had got new talents like Shambhavi Rai, Shivam Singh Rawat, Jyotsna Singh, Debanjana Biswas, Chaitanya Tyagi, and Muskan Srivastava. Shashank Raj (very down to earth person and a womanizer) joined the club through this street play. I had a great time directing the play. The play was based in Indian Police System. The script was not as good as the one in the previous year. It was dragged. The main strength was the Mandli that was newly introduced. It had a powerhouse - Pratik bhaiya from post-grad batch. His voice alone powered the entire gang. Next up was Drama Nite, the best Drama Nite in my four years. Hindi Play starring Priyanshu, Bhavya and Akash Singh Rathore, etc received a standing ovation. It was an adapted script. All the characters were praised. The horror mime blew up everyone's mind. English play lacked the finishing touch and so was left behind a bit. Two actors, however, were very well appreciated - Sujata Chatterjee (a prolific writer and actor) and Pratik Jaiswal (a prolific video editor and movie buff).

The Annual workshop was canceled this year due to the nearing mid-semester examination. Pantheon '17 came after two years in the month of October. The street play was based on Depression. It was very depressing except for the KBC scene which turned to be a hit. I forget about the Mime and Musical skit performances as the stage setup was the worst ever. Thanks to Pantheon 17 team (Okay! I was also an organizer :( ).

The most important event of the year was surely the street play competition of Mood Indigo 2017. It was our second time that we were going to participate in this competition. We modified the script of Marital Rape a lot. Characters were swapped. Abhishek Singh (the most lustful person of the club) joined us. We chose Pradipta Ray (our beloved senior from K14 also called Bangalow Beedi) for the percussions. I went for ICPC Chennai Regionals and came for only 3 days of practice. We had no high expectation for the result. The result was announced. We secured 1st position. Yes! We were the champions of the largest fest of Asia. It was the biggest achievement for Ehsaas to date. A stage play titled Devdasi was written by Samadrito. It was out of the prelims round due to some mismanaged props. The play was re-written and modified for Spring Fest 2018. The play won the first position at that the competition. The play starred Aishani Patnaik, Pragyanand, Shrishti Gupta, Priyanshu and Anamika Shekhar. It had an epic entry scene and a breath-taking climax.

I didn't go to Spring Fest in my third year. Rather, we were taken to IIM Calcutta to perform the street play on Menstruation. We were only a team of 10 this time (usually its 20+). We performed. We got the second position. I don't know how a national-award-winning script lost at this small competition. Little did we know that this defeat was just a beginning. For the Bitotsav '18, we wrote a new script based on Indian Jails. It had a lot of songs. We had a powerful Mandli. We secured the first position in the competition.

Dramzest '18 was scheduled in March 2018. I, Sakshi Srivastava and Mayank Mani (a clever writer) were co-mentors of the same team. Our team consisted of only one girl. I don't know why was there so much disparity in distribution. Anyhow, we had some talented people like Prajjwal Pande (the official bouncer of the club. He was so dark that he was invisible at night. He later turned out to be a great standup comedian. So great that we had to pay to see him on stage) and Aadarsh Srivastava (I had always underestimated him. But he was an encyclopedia. He had suffered a lot in his life that adds a lot to his experience). The play was adapted. We performed a not-at-all funny musical skit on Farmers that was appreciated but not well-received by the audience. Finally, the mime was directed by Sakshi and was based on the principles of Gandhi. Mayank initially had a different idea of a play on a restaurant which we had to later discard as the characters we were not able to find the right characters. I lost all the three years of Dramzest that I participated in.

The final year began with a bang. We were all ready to write the final year diaries. In the beginning, K15s were busy with their placements and so most of the work was done by K16s and K17s. We were only spectators at the Drama Nite. Our contribution started from October 2018 when it was decided that Ehsaas would be participating in Rendezvous '18. We had no time to write new scripts so we decided to pick up the old winning scripts. For the street play, Marital Rape was chosen. For the stage play, Devdasi was chosen. We were loose in practice. We lost both competitions. We didn't even qualify the prelims round in any of the competition. We learned a lot. We decided that we needed new scripts and none of the old scripts were going to work anymore. Samadrito wrote a new play on gun-point marriage. Ishman Kaur (A very good writer herself) was one of the notable actors. The mime team participated at Mood Indigo '18. They practiced religiously days and nights. They qualified the prelims but lost the finals. This was even greater shock than the last one. Spring Fest '19 was going to be our last bet. The K15s who didn't go for an internship decided to give everything to win the competition.

We were in our final semester. Auditions were taken for the Spring Fest. Among the new talents was Adarsh Prakash Pandey who was selected as a percussionist. He was an excellent poet, musician, and actor. He was very emotional as well. Shinjini Bannerjee, Shivam and I were involved in Mandli. The street play was a modified version of Indian Jail. The stage play was the one on gun-point marriage written by Samadrito. The street play was very well practiced. We used a lot of props. Unfortunately, we were disqualified in the prelims round itself. The script for the stage play was completed just a night before the finals (This is what Samadrito did. He left everything to last moment). Stage play lost the finals. Prajjwal lost the standup. We lost everything at Spring Fest as well. The K15s were enraged. We decided to take part in IIM Ranchi fest. The stage play, Devdaasi, lost there as well. Two street play teams were formed to ensure a win for at least one of them. One of the street play (based on Martial Rape) won and the other (based on Indian Jail) lost. It was time to take a break and look back at our mistakes. The street play on Indian Jail was performed at Bitotsav weekender and Bitotsav as well. It was repeated so many times that everyone was able to play every character of the play.

Meanwhile, during Bitotsav, the K15s came up with the idea of an original Shadow Act based on the movie Sholay. It took 7 days of practice to prepare it. At the same time, we also went to watch classic plays at a local theatre of Ranchi in the evening. It was one of the most memorable times. We had a lot of fun in preparing each scene of the Shadow Act. I was also kicked on my eye by Piyush during practice. Oh man! That is a memory for a lifetime. The shadow act received a standing ovation from the audience and went on to receive a NAPSA.

We were judges in our final Dramzest. Tears rolled down the eyes when the last night of Dramzest ended. I ended up making a lot of friends for a lifetime. Hopefully, all of them would remain in contact and those who don't would remain in my heart forever.

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