Choices... bend or break

Life is all about making choices. Infact every step we take, no matter how trivial or how eminent, consciously or unconsciously we are making choices.
Some of them are obvious and some rather difficult and unexpected. We surprise ourselves at times – as if we did not expect ourselves to be capable of making them. Sometimes, these choices stagger us because this is not what we expected.

I’ve being doing some theatre for quite some time now. Nothing major, small roles in plays which run in the theatre district of Boston. The stage always gives me an inexplicable “high”, a great sense of satisfaction and boundless joy. I had to make a rather difficult choice yesterday.

I auditioned for a play recently and I absolutely loved the lead character in the play. The play is based on this girl who has a crumbling family, string of affairs with the wrong guys, anger management issues, a drinking problem, an abortion, a child with her therapist... and around all these issues – she’s actually trying to explore her actual self. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? I fell in love with the character the moment I read the script for the range of emotions and the varied arc she portrays. So obviously I desperately wanted a role in the play and more importantly, the lead.

Guess how unbelievably jubilant I would have been, when I received an email from the director that I actually bagged the role. It said a lot and moreover meant a lot.

So, rehearsals began and I was enjoying being the lead and in every single scene. Talking about scenes, some of the scenes was …ummm... sort of … R-Rated …lets just say that. My director and I had talked about these scenes and we had come to agreement that these scenes would be done such that they were in my comfort zone. We were three days into rehearsals and it was time to get into “those scenes”. As we were reading our lines and playing with the scenes – it turns out, I wasn’t comfortable. The comfort zone which I was supposed to work around with apparently did not exist.
The director came up with a few compromises on the script to accommodate my discomfort. But now the compromises were making here uncomfortable.
I understood, that as a director, she must have had some character – some scene in mind. I dint want her to compromise on that. So, I confronted her, told her that it’ll be okay if she wants to reconsider her casting decision.

She couldn’t quite understand the reason for my reservations. She insisted that it was only acting.It was only theatre. It was only stage intimacy. But, then, each person is different and we have different limits for different things. I tried to tell her that may be it’s got something to do with where I come from or may be it’s a cultural thing. But I knew, it has got nothing to do with anything else – its just who I am. Some limits cannot be justified or explained and for that matter – need not be.

She wanted me us to work around the scenes and try to explore our comfort levels of compromise and meet somewhere in between. But the truth is – there was no between that could become my comfort zone. I had to choose between finding a way to “act” out the scenes or give up the character that I loved and started getting into. I had a choice to make and a choice I made. A choice to not compromise and a choice to turn down the role.

Now I play another character in the show. It breaks my heart each time I rehearse for the show. My mom reckoned me that this was after all my decision, after all a choice I made. My dad counseled me – the way I did not compromise in this play – I should never compromise in my life.


  1. Life has uncountable surprises, twists and turns for all of us. Most of them we just can't imagine, rest of them we can't understand. We all have to make choices, sometimes harsh and sometimes dreadful. But that's what life is. It looks simple from outside but within holds series of mystical riddles.
    What you did is not wrong because what you were asked to do was not within your lines of principles and lifestyle. Though it is unfortunate that you had to sacrifice the lead role but that's just one. I'm sure you would get more in future where you will not have such limitations.
    Good luck with your acting.

  2. I have been through something similar.

    Gets me to think about "compromise". Should there be one in marriage also?

  3. Doesn't matter what role you play, you are still a super star for me.

  4. @Radhika - In my opinion, marriage is something one should do for him/herself not for society, people, family or friends. If it is done under pressure or compromise then it is nothing less than a business deal.
    If the person is ready to step up, take responsibility and is willing to graduate to next level and can respectfully, religiously with full heart give the lawful rights and love to the other person, then marriage makes sense. People say "once you get married all this automatically falls in place, etc. etc." and I don't deny to what they say because in most of the cases it happens so but this is my opinion. Of course situations and circumstances are different for all but one always has a choice to listen to inner self or the world.
    At the end whatever decision you take, you should not regret about it.

  5. @Poor in Java --- Yes, exactly my dilemma. But then, according to Indian tradition it has worked since ages. Then why care if there is liking for the person pre-marriage.
    Just have the "ho jayega" attitude.

    Good article Ms.Gandhi.

  6. @Anonymous... As I said, it is up to individual. This is not limited to only Indian culture and traditions, it is a widespread phenomenon in various countries and communities where traditions, society and cultures bound people tightly. Do what your heart says to. Do whatever makes you happy and contended in life. At the end you should not feel the guilt or regret of your decision. It's not that you would be the 1st one to take a tough decision, but you may be the 1st one to take it in your surroundings.
    DO NOT consider that I am asking you to take a decision, all I am saying is never regret when you look back in life that you make some decision :) Good Luck

  7. Wow. I am so proud of you though. Stand up for what you feel. All well if you weren't uncomfortable. But you spoke out when you were. Nothing is more important than your own approval..!

    AND look who is BACK!! Missed reading up here. Hope you are doing great..