Neeta Mohindra influencing Punjabi world through prism of theatre

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Amritsar, April 21 : Neeta Mohindra of Amritsar has found herself made for theatre world after having tried diverse fields like painting, acting and direction. And, as a theatre artist, she is making a difference in the Punjabi world for two decades.

Neeta, who is now in her late thirties, took to stage at a time when opting a career in stage performances invited many raised eyebrows. But proving all cynics wrong about her success, Neeta has today created a place for herself as a respected Punjabi theatre artist here. "When I joined theatre at the age of 14 or 15, girls were forbidden to act. And, the advantage I had was that I always did lead roles. Now, if I look back, I don't think I was a very good artist. I learned the ropes on my own," said Neeta Mohindra.

Having worked upon a number of gender-related themes, Neeta found her street plays on foeticide quite captivating to viewers. These plays were well received, especially by people in rural Punjab.

She says there is big need to promote Punjabi language, as there are many Punjabis who hesitate being introducing themselves as Punjabis. They don't communicate in Punjabi.

"To revive things we opted for Punjabi theatre. Overseas Punjabis prefer not to speak in Punjabi. There are many families in Punjab who haven't taught Punjabi to their children. This is wrong. It's our language, and we should be proud of being a Punjabi and also be proud to speak in this language. We should also study other languages and attend conferences and read good books in other languages, " says Neeta.

She says that she has been to the United Kingdom and performed at about 50 locations there and promoted Punjabi.

"Since my first stage appearance I got good roles and there were offers for films and advertisements. I belong to an educationists' and bureaucrats' family and was permitted theatre on the condition that I would maintain my school percentage," said she added.

"At that time, I took theatre merely as a hobby and had never thought of making a career out of it. With that mindset I didn't join television and films. Gradually, I realized that this profession was as good or bad as any other profession in the world," Neeta informed. She says the theatre influenced her life quite deeply.

"Theatre left a great impact on me. Even the government uses our street and stage plays to spread mass awareness. The Punjab government organized a series of shows called Trimat' to spread awareness on female foeticide," said Neeta.

She tells how she organized 50 stage shows in Punjab's villages and cities.

"Interestingly, I didn't act but directed the shows. I usually sit in the audience. I found the women audience totally engrossed in the shows. Threate is a great mediun to put across a message," said Neeta. Neeta maintains there should not be any place for competition or evaluation to judge which language is better than the others.

"By no means do I agree that one language is better than the other. As I am speaking to you, I am conveying a message by hand movements, my expressions and words. This is my personal stand on language," say Neeta. By Sawinder Singh

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