Theatre personality, costume designer and actor Salim Arif credits his Lucknow University days (1977-80) for his across the spectrum growth.
In his hometown, for LU’s Centenary Celebrations, he told HT City, “To do a project like ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’ contribution of Lucknow is more than my National School of Drama (NSD) training. Legends Shyam Benegal (BEK), Gulzar saheb (Mirza Ghalib), Chandra Prakash Dwivedi (Chanakya) all had confidence in me because of my groundwork that was prepared in LU campus. Thankfully, to understand them, I had a base which I learnt from my University legends.”
He recalls that more than the classroom wisdom his understanding of various subjects percolated in him by the mentors in and around campus. “Campus was a bigger attraction than classroom. We learnt from Raj Bisaria saheb, Vilayat Jafri, Kunwar Narain, Raghubir Sahai, KN Kakkar, Mrs (Mohini) Manglik, Bisht and Nagar saheb.”
Arif adds, “I read all classics in that period and studied paintings. My subjects were Maths, Psychology and English but my focus was extracurricular activities. During Shakespearian plays, I had an inclination towards performance studies which was a big learning for me.”
During university days Arif successfully ventured into publishing a magazine. “I used to bring out a ‘jugadu’ magazine ‘Dhanakte Peepo Ka Shor’ (Echoing Drums) which I used to get typed, cyclostyled and distribute. Rakesh Chandra, Mehboob Mehndi Abdi and Sanjay Kapoor used to write while it had artwork of Madan Lal Nagar and Ranvir Singh Bisht. Those were post-emergency days and atmosphere was electric.”
The playwright feels the synergy of campus with city’s cultural activity is now missing. “At campus academic is mandatory but also very important its extra-curricular activities. There was a deep bond between campus and cultural scene of the city. We need to bring that back!”
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