From being a number cruncher with expertise to interpret laws to now remarkably staging adaptations of classic Indian and foreign literature with appreciation and applauds mesmerizing the onlookers, conquering the most coveted platforms in India and still counting.
CA- Law-Theatre a rare combination. Any parallels or similarities between the world of theatre and Chartered Accountancy. What made you take this plunge in life?
Atul Satya Koushik, is a Chartered Accountant by profession and holds a degree in law from the esteemed Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. He graduated with honours in commerce from Sri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi.
So let’s hear this magnetic personality talking about his journey of art, literature and theatre.
Atul, we are glad to have you with us at Caclubindia and Lawyersclubindia.
It is difficult to find out similarities as such but yes the basics of any profession or any stream that you follow remains the same. You have to remain dedicated to the art, you have to be committed to your goals and you have to apply yourself to the full and that is to do theatre, to do CA, to legal profession, so this is what I have done, when I am doing thing A, I am not thinking of thing B. When I am thinking about thing B, I do not think of A, so that’s what I have followed throughout my life. So, that is what I have been doing in CA profession also, in legal profession also and also in theatre.
You have written 9 full length plays so far and has staged more than 100 shows in the past few years. Which one is your favourite and why?
It is very difficult for a mother to tell somebody who is her favourite child, each of her child belongs to her only. Similarly, each of the play I have written, I owe that play with equal warmth, equal amount of love and yes it is also true that some plays do better than the others – audience likes some of my plays better than the others but that is not the parameter for me to decide which one is a better play. The play that I enjoy doing, the play that I enjoy watching or doing lights for is one of my plays called ‘Draupadi’ another reason for calling ‘Draupadi’ my favourite is because it is a musical play and I have always been a great fan of Indian music, different types of Indian folk and classical music ‘Draupadi’ has all of them and I love watching Draupadi and I love preparing for Draupadi, doing lights and sounds for Draupadi so I can say that yes this is on date one of my favourite plays that I have been loving.
Atul belongs to the new age of playwrights from Mahabharat to George Orwell’s adaptations to plays like ‘Chakravyuh’, ‘Draupadi’, ‘Wo Lahore’ and ‘Bade Shehar ke log’ promising contributions to original play-writing in India. What inspires you to bring the different flavours’ in your play? Were you a rebel always?
Theatre is an interactive art form where an actor interacts with the audience. He has to remain loyal to his art, his audience, and to the entertainment value that in time is to pass on to the audience. And we cannot entertain them by providing the same content everytime. There are also certain number of people who always come for my play and by giving them similar kind of play, one fine day they might not come. So, it is my responsibility that I do not confine myself and my plays to a particular style, so you will find plays on Mahabharata, mythology at the same time you will find plays by prominent writers like Premchand, Saadat Hasan Manto at the same time you will find adult comedies in my menu as well. So, we try to cater to different kinds of audience because it is basically an entertainment industry. We have to serve entertainment keeping the esthetics and the quality of our content intact and that is what we are trying to do.
Your plays have been staged at various prestigious platforms and institutions. How do you feel about it, and a platform you long to perform in the coming years?
Yes, we have performed on very committed platforms, we have performed at Parliament Auditorium, we also performed at Bhartendu Natya Utsav where ‘Draupadi’ was selected as one of the best plays of 2013, we performed at the Kala Ghoda Arts festival and many other festivals. So, when you see yourself being part of the festival or brand which we use to see when we were a child, that yes these are big platforms where big directors perform, where big plays are being performed. So when you see that happening for your play, definitely you feel elated, you feel out of this world, but that is there for that particular moment, that time is over, that show is over you look forward for the next target that you have, the next big platform. Similarly, I have performed at a lot of venues in India but we want to perform once at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai. Not because it’s a huge theatre or it has huge capacity, it’s a very small theatre, very intimate kind of sitting but yes it carries a history behind it, it has some reputation also. So, we are going to perform once for the audience at Mumbai in Prithvi.
The Films and Theatre Society, FTS under this banner you have trained over 300 actors so far and have provided them coveted platforms to showcase their talent. What is your vision for FTS?
Like any other body or organization in its respective industry, you want to see that body at the top amongst those who are working in that industry and for being at the top, I do not want to say that I am competing with any other theatre society in India. I will set a target for myself that I want to do these many shows in a year, I want to perform at these many venues or these reputed venues in the coming year and then ofcourse shows outside India. So, once I have achieved the desired number, I will definitely be counted as one of the most performing theatre groups in India and this is where I want to take FTS. But yes, at the same time the quality of the work, content and information at the A+ level where you cannot question the content and the performances.
So, where do we get the opportunity to watch all your work?
We keep doing shows almost every month but yes the next big thing which is coming is the big festival called “Rang” which is happening in the first week of November in Mandi house, so you get to see lot of plays from big theatre groups in India including two of my plays at Kamani Auditorium on the 8th & 9th of November. So, you and everybody from the Finance and Legal fraternity are welcome.
Surely, the Finance and Legal Fraternity will be waiting for that festival!
What do you think is the main hurdle in following one’s dreams and passion? Any experience that you want to share with us, that's remarkable in your life, a learning lesson?
I have always believed that we get only one lifetime to live our dreams and passions and the day you realize that the thing that you dreamt of,
or the passion that you have is not the routine thing that people dream of or the routine road that people choose and had I decided for myself to become a doctor, an engineer or remain only a CA only a lawyer for my life it might not have been that much difficult but since I want to do theatre along with my finance profession, it was definitely not easy, it was difficult to convince my parents, friends and my faculties and before anything to convince myself. If you are giving a sizeable part of your day or time to something which is not rewarding as such so you have to consciously think of that decision but once you are true to your dreams, once you are true to your goals, then all these things hardly matters in your life. The only thing you see is that one day when you have achieved your dream and what would be the next dream that you will see once you have achieved your first dream. So, when you have those clarity in your mind, these things hardly plays any role in stopping you. Yes, practical difficulties do come but then they come in everybody’s life, a poor guy who doesn’t have money would find doing graduation as difficult as somebody will find doing an MBBS or CA. So, everybody has their own share of problems and difficulties and since God has chosen you to face those problems and difficulties, you cannot question decision of God, you have to believe in yourself as God has given you equal amount of strength as well to face them. You have to own your problems and you have to own your difficulties and the moment you own them they becomes yours and you start loving them and you start working to solve them. About sharing some incidents from past, yes, when I graduated from SRCC in 2006, I also wanted to, infact I did apply to premier drama institutes and film institutes in India, I went to National School of Drama, Mandi House and I went to FTII, Pune also and I applied everywhere and I got till the last round everywhere but then they all rejected me for some reasons. They said that you will not be able to go along with this art, it is a difficult art as you have some physical problems so you will not be a part of this institution. I was definitely heart-broken, because I wanted to pursuue this art sincerely and I was denied the chance but that day I decided that some institution made by some human being on this earth denies you a chance then you build your institution, you develop your own chances because when the world doesn’t give you the chance, you have to create our own chances. You have to give yourself a chance, rather than somebody else giving you a chance. So, that time we decided that we will build an organization / institution. With God’s grace, we have been able to do so. Right now, we are making plays and we definitely aspire to create an institution for people like me and like others who want to learn this art of theatre but are denied this chance/opportunity for whatever reason. So, yes, everything comes back to you the way it has come back to me. The institutions who denied me a chance, now my students are studying in those institutions and are doing very well, and I have forgotten everything, so you feel happy and not that you hold any grudge against them, so, you just look at them, you feel happy and you move on.
What makes Atul Satya Koushik?
I would say that Atul Satya Kaushik is also made of what everybody else is made of and that is just a couple of dreams to live through your life. One single dream is enough for one person to live one life and I am also cherishing some of those dreams and those dreams define me and the moment you take away those dreams from me, I am nullity, I am absolutely nothing. Those dreams are so lovely that they keep changing their faces – the moment they say that he is about to realize me, they change their face and become a new dream for me. And that’s why I love them and they love me and have remained with me till date. They will remain with me forever and that is what defines me.
Your words of wisdom for the CA fraternity?
Within my experience with whatever work I have done in this profession and my interaction with the students of this profession, I want to tell them that more than anything these are very responsible professions. When you look at the amount of remuneration that you get from in this profession, you also get the amount of responsibilities which comes along with those remuneration because no amount of fees or audit fee can define the responsibility a CA takes up in his hand while signing the Balance Sheet. Similarly, for a lawyer, when a client comes to him with a case he surrender his life’s fortune to that person so you have to understand that responsibility, you have to understand what it takes to really stand by that responsibility and define your personality accordingly. You become a respectable citizen of society, people expect wisdom from you, people expect generosity from you and you don’t really want be any other businessman or any other shopkeeper whose only aim is to earn money. Even our profession, the motto of profession is to serve, what differentiates profession from business is the service factor. You are serving the society and you are being rewarded for that. So, just keep that in mind, be any finance professional or any other professional. Just make sure that there is some responsibility on your head and please stand by that.
It’s exhilarating to hear him speak and of course his journey is a tale of adventure, uncertainties’, contentment and achievements. Extraordinary is just that ‘extra’ that we need to add to the ordinary. It’s just a silent thought that needs to be put into action, it’s that lightening which strikes the cloud and creates thunder. So, do we desire to be exclusive?
Thank you, Atul and hope to witness your plays at Broadway very soon.
I, Nikita Jain, thank you all for the love and support.