For some, hobbies remain just hobbies, but Bendang Walling, from Nagaland, had a different calling! He took a leap of faith and decided to give life to his art and hobbies. Hardships and struggles didn’t stop him and today he is one of the refined performer, director and producers in Nagaland.
He has directed a lot of plays, short films, conducted Theatre Workshops in other states as well. One of his short films, Blissful was also selected for International Film Festival 2016 at Dharamshala. We caught up with him to chat about his life and work!
- Hi, glad to have you on board, please tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello, my name is Bendang Walling, I live in Dimapur and I am 32-years-old. I started my career as a stage actor and now, I direct, produce and act as well. I would like to consider myself an artist, a dreamer and a visionary who breathes life to stories and folktales. After my graduation, I went to Delhi to pursue my Master in Dramatic Arts from National School of Drama, New Delhi. I am also the Founder of Hill Theatre Nagaland and has produced and directed numerous plays and dramas over the past two decades.
- What inspired you to pursue Dramatic Arts?
Since childhood, drama, skits, plays and audio visual media have inspired me a lot.
When I was six, I played the role of adult Jesus Christ for a short play in our community
Church. This incident perhaps initiated my journey towards a fuller engagement with dramatic arts. As part and parcel of the normative education module, I started acting and directing a number of short plays as a very young student in churches, schools, colleges, community gatherings and public functions. I tried my best to exhibit and explore what I really loved. However, there was a stage where I thought a full time career in performing arts was not at all feasible and I intended to pursue the same as a hobby.
The turning point came on in 2007, when I was offered the role of Nukshi in Temjen Pongen’s film “Ojala Kong Ajurutsu” in Ao language. During the course of the film-making, I realized that this was my calling for further discovery in the finest aspects of acting. The silent thought within me was further vindicated when I decided to apply for a three-year course in dramatic arts at the NSD, New Delhi.
- Any struggles along the way?
During my initial few months in NSD, I had to struggle with the primary medium of instruction which was Hindi, as I had to perform in Hindi. There was a point in my life, where I even contemplated giving it up but I didn’t. As I progressed, these frustrating moments also passed away. Second and third year went smoothly and I could associate myself with the elements of professionalism that NSD imparted in me, where I got to know about what was going on around the world of theatre and performing arts.
- Can you share your experiences in NSD and what made you decide to come back to Nagaland?
In NSD, we had a chance to interact with National actors and personalities. We also got exposure to learn from internationally renowned theatre personalities from all over the globe. In my final year, many of my teachers asked me to stay back in Delhi. But my impulse told me that I should have been there in my state where theatrical arts, both experimental and conventional had to undergo a qualitative change in terms of form and content. When I returned in 2012, I had to start from my roots, where all the practicing and living theatre needed resources to blend hidden talents with adequate resources. Despite hardships, I have been able to have some full-fledged theatre productions with Hil Theatre so far. Under Hill Theatre, we have done some plays outside of Nagaland in Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Jharkhand, Odisha & West Bengal. I still have the hunger to do more and better.
- Any message to the young people out there that are seeking the same profession?
Thank you Bendang for sharing your stories, we wish you a successful life ahead.
Drawer, a short film directed by Bendang walling