NAATAK’s “Hello, World!” – Marking the 21st Anniversary of our first show

February 16, 2017    

(By Sujit Saraf on Feb 16, 2017 to mark the 21st anniversary of Naatak’s first show ever – It was our first play Khaamosh Adaalat Zaaree Hai. Staged on Feb 16, 1996 in Cubberley Theatre, Palo Alto)

I remember the dates very well. Auditions on Dec 2, 1995 in Gamble Lounge, International House (my dorm at Berkeley). And the first show on Feb 16, 1996.

We started rehearsing, and THEN looked for theaters. We quickly found out nothing was available for months. Naatak nearly died before it was born.

President’s Day saved us: no one had booked Cubberley for Feb 16th and the day before it. We took it.
One show. About 80 tickets sold in advance in friends and family. Nice line at the box office, which sold 125 tickets. Ticket total 205.
Tickets $10 (regular) $8 (students)
Expenses $1532
Revenue $1800 (tickets) + $500 from Swagat India Cuisine (because Raghu and Rupa (Harish Belur’s brother and bhabhi) were regular customers there).
Naatak’s first play was profitable 🙂
We gave all that money to ASHA.

I was in white kurta pajama, the only one I had.

My first words were: “naatak ke pehle naatak mein aapakaa swaagat hai”
(note: pehle naatak mein: I had assumed there would be many more)

Then I cracked a lame joke: about how more time was spent on BART than in rehearsal. 4 cast members plus I were from Berkeley, 4 cast members plus Sanjay (Rajagopalan) were from the peninsula. Half the rehearsals happened in Berkeley in my department, while the other half happened in Terman Engineering building in Stanford (Sanjay’s department). Most of us were students and did not have cars. I think Harish (Agastya) was already working, so had a car. Sanjay was a richly-paid grad student, so had a car. The rest of us spent our time on BART, getting picked up at BART stations by these car guys. (Berkeley->Union City, then by car to Stanford).

Then the curtain opened. Partha (Parthasarathy Mamidipudi, a friend from Berkeley) walked in, playing “Samant”, followed by Navneet Randhawa, playing “Benare”.

Partha said: “haan yahii hai. yahii hai vah hall”

That was the first line spoken in Naatak 😉