It was my last thought before I Fell
It was my last thought before I Fell
The year was 1999. I have been pursuing my diploma in Dramatic Arts from the National School of Drama, Delhi. After completing my Bachelors in Arts, I moved to Delhi from a town named Kasol in Himachal Pradesh. I lived there for 21 years. I always wanted to be an actor. I like to perform mimicry and do acting at school and college events. I went with my father to watch many films shooting in Manali, which is about 75 km from Kasol.
They gave the batch of students who are learning Dramatic Arts a final assessment. Our mentors asked us to prepare a theatre act for our last assignment for the Diploma at NSD. They divided us into groups. I along with my seven other fellow mates was rehearsing earnestly for the act. This act will be our ultimate chance to show off our acting ability. We would judge and get marks based on our performance at this act.
Our group chose the theme of War. We will present the war scene. This is the scene where the Indian soldiers get attacked by the enemies at war over the ‘line of Control’ and how they retaliated back and how these soldiers dealt with physical and mental repercussions at the war field.
Hey Vikram, Had your dinner? asked Akash.
I have replied to Akash, Yes Dude. I have my dinner. I am going back to my room.
Great Vikram. Just remember, Tomorrow We had the last rehearsal for the act at 10 a.m.
Yes, I will be there Akash. Good Night.
We all are present in the auditorium the next morning. All of us having our notes in hand and we are mumbling the lines - sitting over unique places right at the performing stage. We bought the toy rifles to make it more authentic, although we did not wear the soldier's attire that we have kept for our final act.
Akash, myself, and two others were the Indian Soldiers and the other 3 were from the enemy side. The scene is ‘The enemy first targeted the bunker at the Indian side and attacked with projecting a heavy bomb’.
We four from the battalion who guarded that bunker. I am presenting as Captain Vikram and commanding my battalion having Captain Akash, Lieutenant Rajesh and Lieutenant Ashish. The bomb just hit near to the bunkers, It had just saved us with some meters' distance but Lieutenant Rajesh got hit with the stones and dust batters as a course of the bomb shelling. I ordered Lieutenant Ashish to give Lieutenant Rajesh the aid. We pointed out the latitude grid lines and marked the end of their bunker and planned to attack our enemy. I asked Captain Akash to cover up the fire for me, While I would attack the bunker. Finally, we finished our rehearsal on a friendly note and we were happy with our performances and ready to bring a mind-boggling act in front of our mentors and professors tomorrow.
I was in my room, watching the television and changing the channel when my eyes stopped at the news from the war. The Kargil war with Pakistan was going on. I remember my role in the play as a soldier. I took an interest in watching the news. It says, “Captain Vikram Batra from 13 JNK Rifles, assisted the 79 Mountain Brigade in reclaiming Point 4875, in Mushkoh Valley. Captain Vikram valiantly led his troops and fought the infiltrating Pakistani army and regained dominance in the regions occupied by the Pakistani military forces. However, Captain Batra faced a shot by a machine gun by a Pakistan army man. He martyred his life while defending his dear Mother India”.
It bumped me to hear the news and felt terrible. To play in an act to showcase as a Soldier fighting for the nation is very different When in reality the brave soldiers like Captain Batra gave their life in the actual war going with our neighbor enemy at border.
Next evening, We are all set to show the act. All other students and professors are present in the auditorium. We were wearing military uniforms and holding rifles and marked the faces with black marks.
I was sitting at the back of the stage, alone in the corner. I was holding my rifle. I remember the last night news; I have a kind of disturbed by that and it holding me back, and It only reminds me, How difficult for soldiers to fight at the border and in the war, and I am here just to act in a play that is so unreal that, We not carrying such emotions that our soldiers hold and are battling in the war fields.
Akash came up. Bro, what are you doing here and sitting alone? Are you ok?
I looked at him and said; I don't want to act. I am not feeling well Akash.
Are you mad, Vikram? The play will start in 10 minutes. Please come out of your whatever gone mood and get ready. You know that this is our last odd to impress mentors with our acting skills.
I stared at Aakash for a few seconds, and said, Ok. Give me 5 minutes, I will be there.
Good Vikram. Thanks.
The play would start, We have done the setup, showing the war scene between Indian soldiers and the enemy at the other side. We have taken our spots with the rifle in hand. All the students, teachers, were clapping and cheering. Also, students initially whistle at the start of our act.
The act progresses, and when Captain Vikram prepares and heads to the enemy bunker for the attack. And Captain Akash covers up for Captain Vikram. I crawled near to the bunker and as per our next move we had rehearsed to pound the bomb at the location to get the enemy down and then they shot up back to injure Captain Vikram that is me. However, I raised up and started shooting at the bunker and got through the enemy soldiers. I put my eyes closed, remembered the actual Captain Vikram Batra face from the news, and iterated with my rifle I was in the actual battlefield. My fellow mate Akash, who will act to cover me up, might get confused about What I am supposed to do and What I did the opposite from the rehearsal. He never moved forward from his spot and stayed there.
I am then in the zone of the actual battle, acting and firing my bullets continuously from the fake rifle but surely with the genuine emotions this time, and the enemy guys also stumped. They looked at me once and tried to get me back from my conduct and eventually hit me back as per scripts and I have to fall down.
I thought I wish this should have been a real battlefield. I could be the actual Captain Vikram Batra rather than Vikram Thakur and repeat after his words “Yeh Dil Maange More” before I fell on the floor.