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Saturday, February 27, 2021

First of Many: Piyush Mishra revisits Firdaus

This week's First of Many features Piyush Mishra. In the 70th edition of our exclusive series, the actor talks about his first acting project, TV show Firdaus (1994).

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
February 24, 2021 8:13:00 am
piyush mishra tv shows oldPiyush Mishra-starrer Furdaus aired on Doordarshan. (Photos: Express Archives and Piyush Mishra/Facebook)

Actor-writer Piyush Mishra’s transition from the stage to cinema is worth taking note of. The ace artiste started his acting journey with Delhi-based Act One Theatre Group, eventually working with the Asmita Theatre Group. In his formative years, he wrote and directed several plays, before turning to television and Bollywood.

A National School of Drama graduate, Mishra made his acting debut after years of passing out. He eventually portrayed memorable roles in films like Dil Se, Matrubhoomi, Maqbool, Gulaal, Rockstar, Gangs of Wasseypur, Tamasha, Pink and Sanju, to name a few.

Mishra was also seen in recent web projects Illegal and JL50. He is also a celebrated screenwriter, lyricist, and music composer. A multi-faceted personality, Mishra inspires many.

But how did it all begin for the performer? Here’s what Piyush Mishra shared:

What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?

I made my acting debut in a TV show titled Firdaus in 1994, which aired on Doordarshan. I was doing theatre and my name was known. They called me, liked me and took me in. I did give a small audition. It was directed by Som Bakshi and was based on the topic of Kashmir. It was on a burning issue, much ahead of its times, and hence, was put off air in the middle. I forgot my character’s name, but it was the role of a terrorist who uses all his force and warfare to psychologically brainwash the youngsters of that region, to make them militants. It had some 8-9 episodes I think.

piyush mishra young photos Piyush Mishra has a body of work, spread across theatre, films and television. (Photos: Piyush Mishra/Facebook)

What do you remember of your first day on set?

The first day of shoot was a normal one, nothing extraordinary. It was shot in Chamba. I was to deliver an erratic speech, that’s what I remember. Later, the show was shot in Dalhousie. I had little knowledge about performance then. If you ask me, the actual performance I did was in films like Maqbool and Dil Se later. That’s when I understood what cinema is, what entry-exit means.

Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?

I was never nervous while facing the camera, as against others who believe that theatre actors become nervous while acting in films. I could easily transform myself for this medium. There was no issue, the only thing being, I did take some time to understand the technicalities. So, for this shot too, it was all smooth with barely any takes.

Who were you co-stars? How was the rapport with them when you got to meet or work with them again later?

The show also starred Shefali Bhushan, Zakir Hussain, Saurabh Shukla and others. Zakir was my junior from NSD, and I used to do theatre with Saurabh, so the atmosphere on the sets was like a picnic. The problem is with Mumbai, staying in touch there is difficult. Social life isn’t like how we see it in Delhi. Mumbai is very different and very professional, which is good.

If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?

Yes I would change a lot of things. Today, after working on so many projects, I have a lot more experience. I’m more settled and composed in life. So, a lot of changes will come if I get to play the role again today, my entire performance would change. I will conceive it in a new way, enact it differently, I’ll recraft it. It’ll be a brand new portrayal. It won’t be amateurish today.

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One actor who inspired you during your formative years?

There’s wasn’t any movie actor as such, but in Gwalior from where I come, we had Vijay Modak and Nana Gadwaikar. While watching them perform, I always thought this is how one needs to act. I have great memories of them.

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