INTERVIEW: Nuhar Bansal (of GNLU Gandhinagar) On Theatre, Theatre Internships and More Theatre

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Nuhar Bansal graduated from the 2016 Batch of Gujarat National Law University.

A name synonymous with Theatre in GNLU, she has varied internship experiences from KTS Tulsi to BananaIP and Prithvi Theatre.

Currently working in a Wealth Management Firm in Bangalore, she talks about Theatre, Law and her future.

Interview by Disha Devadas, our campus leader from GNLU, Gandhinagar.

1. So tell us how you decided to do law after school and give CLAT?

Well. I was a hardcore Science student and I loved math during high school. But when the time came for entrance examinations, I realised, I was not interested in taking up engineering professionally at all.

I still did not know what I wanted to do, so instead, I took a sabbatical, and decided to study history, economics and political science for a change in perspective. Since I had never engaged myself with humanities before, it was quite a drastic shift for me.

During my first year, I realized I wanted to choose between pursuing theatre, journalism and law in future. I did my research about the respective fields and CLAT  interested me a lot because of its format of questioning with all the legal and logical reasoning, english comprehension and math of course. So that’s how CLAT and Law happened.

2. How has the journey at GNLU been for you? What all activities were you involved in?

There are two ways to look at it- one is from the point of view of academic and professional equipment and the other is in context of personality and character development.

I give more weightage to the latter because living for a half a decade with the same set of people all of whom are strangers to begin with, in the same space that is a residential university, especially during the most crucial years of growing up in life, is a whole different ball game altogether which has impacted me in much larger proportions when compared to my legal education per se.

In my first two years at law school, I did my share of intra moots, international moot court competitions, conferences, paper publications, the usual stuff that everybody in law school does along with joining the Theatre Club.

In fact I was quite academically inclined towards the subjects that we were taught in the initial semesters. Around the 3rd year is when my interest in theatre started becoming a lot more serious.

The kind of exposure I was getting in terms of the seniors and juniors that were a part of the Theatre Club was enthralling. People like Harshal Tholia who came with theatre experience from Jaipur and Kunal Chaturvedi who came from an extensive theatre background in Delhi and a couple of others all of whom contributed to pushing the horizons of the art of theatre as I knew it.

Even my immediate juniors were people with incredible interest and knowledge in theatre and its technicalities and that helped me grow not only as a thespian but also as a person.

My 4th year is when I got around to independently directing my first play and presenting it to the college audience. And there has been no looking back ever since.

The night of 25th September 2014 was when we performed this play called Museum of Species and Danger by Rasika Aghashe. The content of and response to the play along with the entire journey of putting it up was such that, I decided, theatre is what I want to do in life and for life.

So the following two years, you can ask literally anybody in college, all I did, was theatre.

Everything else took a backseat, even my internships – till the 3rd year I did my due legal internships – NGOs, courts, law firms but in my 4th and 5th year, I interned at theatre spaces like the Prithvi Theatre in Bombay, Rangashakara in Bangalore, and other theatre curator agencies around.


3. How was your experience doing varied internships at CRY, CH Jadhav, KTS Tulsi, BananaIP, Prithvi Theatre etc?

All my internship applications were either through college or through a post that I saw at Lawctopus or other similar fora or via other usual application procedures.

Except for KTS Tulsi – that was one internship where I got no response to my repeated emails. So I consulted with another lawyer in Delhi that I knew, and he told me that references go a long way in getting people internships. He offered to refer my name, and it worked.

CRY was my first internship. I got it through the College Internship Committee. It was also my only 6 week internship where I worked on laws and legal disputes pertaining to child nutrition and Anganwadi System in Karnataka.

As for CH Jadhav who is a renowned senior advocate of criminal law in the Karnataka High Court, I had to get in touch with him telephonically and then meet him for a personal interview for the internship.

BananaIP had actually come to our college for a certificate course on Entertainment Law, a subject that I had developed a keen interest in but was not offered in college.

I loved their course and by the end of it I asked the Managing Director, who was conducting the course himself, for an internship opportunity and he agreed. Let me tell you, it was one of my best legal internships and I have been recommending it to all my juniors ever since.

With Prithvi Theatre I had a rather funny experience where I assumed a communication thread to be a confirmation and booked my tickets and accommodation accordingly, except it was not a confirmation.

But irrespective, I packed my bags and ended up at their office and sought clarification and got the internship. I did a lot of back stage and organizational work for their annual theatre festival along with administrative work like creating web content and interviewing. This internship had nothing to do with law, it was a purely theatre internship.

After this I interned with Sandbox Collective, a Bangalore based theatre curator company, which was another thoroughly enriching experience theatrically speaking.

4. An unconventional career after law must have its own challenges. How was your experience? What advice would you give to those opting a non-law career?

People automatically assume that I dislike law and hence did not pursue it professionally. That’s a very wrong idea to have. As I keep repeating to everybody who presumes this about me, I enjoyed studying law but obviously in a 5 year course they teach you almost all the laws under the sun and it is not necessary that you are interested in all of them.

But a law school experience is something which equips you for life. It moulds us holistically, as I said earlier, both in personal and professional contexts. Your perspective towards things in life changes completely owing to what you have experienced in these 5 years.

So if you want to pursue any discipline after law, don’t fret it.

Initially, I thought that taking up a non legal profession is a wastage of resources set on and by me during law school.

Except it is only after I graduated and started working with a Theatre Production Company that I realized how my legal education has equipped my skill set and thought process to be applicable in any field whatsoever.

There is absolutely no harm in pursuing any discipline of your choice after getting a professional degree in any other field as long as you make the choice for the right reasons.

Today, I am working with a Wealth Management Firm because it took real field experience for me to gain the clarity and practicality pertaining to my theatre plans for the long run and make amends in my professional outlook.

My legal training is proving to be quite an asset at my current job too. The obvious downside at pursuing a non legal profession is not having a certified qualification in that field as against your peers probably. But that is something which one can overcome with due work experience.

5. What plans do have up your sleeve for the future?

That’s not a very good question to ask someone who has changed two jobs in 9 months (laughs).

But obviously I will not be doing professional wealth management for the rest of my life. Although it is an extremely interesting discipline and just important a skill set as knowing your law.

In the long run however, I want to develop a platform where the ambit of legal services is comfortably expanded to performing arts on the whole along with pursuing content creation.

I have seen the field of performing arts, be it theatre or classical arts, from up close and have realized that it is a highly unstructured field that needs certain level of commercial and structural infiltration for professional sustainability.

That is what I want to work towards in the long run – an idea of my own to help people create, stage, distribute and protect their content with the right awareness and opportunities while knowing my money well.

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