Wednesday, 24 October 2012




Neeraj Kabi is a theatre & film actor, theatre director and trainer. Since 1997, Neeraj has been working as a professional actor mostly in lead roles with award winning national and international theatre and “art house” film directors. As a theatre director he’s been exploring the concept of collaborating Indian traditional artistes with urban actors to interpret Indian and Global theatre texts. Neeraj  has traveled across the country since 1996 to conduct theatre workshops for actors, animators, corporates, schools, colleges, young adults,  teachers and parents.  As Theatre and Films deal with advanced levels of behavioral sciences which can be life changing, these workshops are based on the foundations of deep explorations of theatre philosophies, theatre sciences and theatre arts. He has been working for many years into evolving his own grammar of theatre and acting.  Neeraj Kabi is the founder and artistic director of Pravah Theatre Laboratory which is involved in theatre performance, training and research in order to explore excellence, awakening and empowering humans. At a deeper level his vision is to bring Indians closer to their individual selves and to their rich Traditional Indian sensibilities so that they transform the way they perceive themselves and the world in order to become powerful Indian resources in domestic as well as global transformation.

Neeraj has trained briefly in a host of traditional martial and dance forms to equip himself for his work in ‘physical theatre’. Through intensive study into breath techniques, mind and body mechanism, theatre and world cinema, Neeraj has been working for many years into evolving his own grammar of acting and theatre.

As an actor in the theatre, he has worked as the lead performer with national and international theatre and film directors. Neeraj began work as a professional actor in 1997 in Mumbai. Ever since, he has been well received in the theatre circles of Mumbai having performed in the lead roles in major plays by Shakespeare (as Banquo), Tom Stoppard (as Hamlet), Moliere (as Sganarelle), Marivaux (as Harlequin), Chekov (as Gurov & Chekov) , Oscar Wilde (as King Herod), Ibsen (as Tesman), Margurite Duras ( as Peter Morgan ) amongst others. He was selected to play the lead role in a production directed by Jean Jacques Bellot from France in collaboration with Alliance Frances de Mumbai. Rene Migliaccio from the USA selected Neeraj to play a major role in his production of a Marivaux play here in Mumbai. The celebrated Eric Vigner from France selected Neeraj, after many auditions in some cities of India, to play Peter Morgan in his theatre production of  ‘Gates to India Song’ which had Nandita Das playing the lead. In 1997 he was cast in the lead role in “The Last Vision”, a feature film directed by Mr. A.K. Bir and produced by the NFDC. The film won a national award in 1998 and made it to the competition section of Cairo, Singapore and Delhi International Film Festivals. In 2005, Gil Alon from Isreal cast Neeraj in the lead role as King Herod in a theatre production of Salome. He has also been cast in the lead by Mumbai based directors, Atul Kumar and Rehaan Engineer, in their theatre productions.
As a film actor, he has performed  in the lead role as an Indian monk in Anand Gandhi’s international award winning English feature film,  “Ship of Theseus”, which has had the honour of being selected by the Critics Circle of the British Council as one of the ‘15 all-time great films of the world that can change your life’. The film was also awarded the Best film of the world at the Transylvania Film Festival[ 2013]. It was selected and invited to all the major Film Festivals of the world such as the Toronto International Film festival [2012], as well as feature in the world competition section at the London and Tokyo Film Festivals. This lead performance of Neeraj won him accolades and high praises from national and international film critics, actors, directors and audiences. 
Neeraj was awarded the BEST ACTOR [ Jury Special Mention] for his performance in this film, in recognition of Cinematic Excellence at the 4th Jagran Film Festival, 2013. He also won the BEST ACTOR at the 4th Sakhalin International Film Festival, Russia in the International competition section.
He has also performed in a crucial role opposite Hollywood’s Harvey Keitel in Kranti Kanade’s [ international award winning film-maker] English feature film, “Gandhi of the month”, which is yet to be released. His has also performed as one of the three leads in Amit Kumar’s  [ international award winning film-maker] Hindi feature film “Monsoon shootout”, which has been selected to represent India at the prestigious Cannes Film festival, London and Melbourne as well. The film has been produced by Anurag Kashyap in collaboration with Netherlands and U.K. His recent venture as an actor has been an honour and privilege to essay the role of Mahatma Gandhi in a television series called 'Samvidhaan' based on the making of the Indian Constitution. This series has been directed by Shyam Benegal, considered to be one of the few great film making legends of India and the world. "Samvidhaan" has been declared as a national gift by the Indian government.
Neeraj completed his work as an actor in two more feature films. He performed as one of the main leads in a very different role as a Villain in Dibakar Banerjee's "Detective Byomkesh Bakshy" being produced by Yash Raj Films. The other film, "Talvar", is based on a true life story directed by Meghna Gulzar and produced by Vishal Bharadwaj where he plays one of the lead roles. Neeraj was critically acclaimed for both these roles as an actor and was nominated at the Sony Guild Awards, Zee Cine Awards as well as the Stardust Awards in 2016 as Best actor in a Negative role and Best Supporting actor. In May 2015, the NBC honoured Neeraj with the Newsmakers Achievers' Award for BEST ACTOR for his silent and steady contribution to theatre and cinema. He has just finished shooting for Gurinder Chadha's feature film Viceroy's House in the role of Mahatma Gandhi. This is Neeraj's first International Film with an ensemble cast of British American actors.

His theatre production of ‘Hamlet’ which he directed in 2006 with support from the British Council Division of Mumbai, was invited to perform at The Nehru National Theater Festival in Mumbai and at National School of Drama’s Bharat Rang Mahotsav. It also had the honour of opening the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai, the same year. Neeraj’s version of Hamlet was performed as a bilingual using actors from Mumbai and original artistes from Indian traditions of Dhrupad singing and Yakshagana dance-drama. He directed his first full-length English play for young adults called “Aham”  which premiered at the Prithvi Theatre in 2004. The play was recognized for its unique experimentation and its bold attempt in theatre for young adults. It explored an original script that was written by thirteen young actors aged between 12 and 16 years.
In 2009, Neeraj was one of the four directors from India invited to direct a play for the Delhi Ibsen Festival’09. This was an International theatre festival featuring the works of 12 directors from across the world. He created this production of Ibsen using Mumbai actors and original Indian traditional performers of Chhau dance and classical singers of Thumri. He has also been invited twice as a director since 2008 , to create short theatre pieces for the Rangashankara theatre, Bangalore. One of such creations is called ‘The fatal entrance of Lady Macbeth’ featuring Arundhati Nag as the solo performer and a renowned  Thumri singer. This is a “work in progress” and would eventually culminate into a theatre piece.

Besides Acting and Directing in Theatre and Films, Neeraj has spent many years in sharing his training and expertise through conducting theatre based workshops and courses across various communities of people such as corporates, animators, actors, young adults, schools, theatre organizations, etc. throughout the country.
He has been conducting a very powerful and specialized one-day workshop with the CORPORATE sector on “SELF-EMPOWERMENT AND TEAM MOTIVATION THROUGH THEATRE”. This workshop has been invited by companies like Patni Computers ( Mumbai ), CAPCO ( Bangalore), I-FLEX (Bangalore ), British Gas ( Mumbai ), Vector Projects India Ltd. ( Mumbai ) and others. He has very recently created four specialized workshop modules for the corporate sector. These workshops are based on Theatre arts and Theatre philosophies. They are scientifically designed so as to address and explore key corporate values such as  RELATIONSHIPS AND EMOTIONS [ 4-hour workshop], COMMUNICATION AND SELF-EXPRESSION [ 1 day or 1 ½ day workshop], POWER OF LISTENING IN TEAM WORK [ 2-day outdoor workshop], PERFORMING AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS [ extensive 7-day workshop]. Some of these new workshops have been very well received by companies like Tata Consultancy Services (Mumbai) , INTEL (Bangalore) and Vector Projects India Ltd. (Mumbai).
His other popular workshop has been with the ANIMATION INDUSTRY. A two and a half day workshop called “ACTING FOR ANIMATORS” has been doing the rounds across India’s top-listed animation studios that include Crest Animation Studios ( Mumbai ), Technicolor ( Bangalore ), Tata Elxsi (Mumbai), Rhythm & Hues (Mumbai) amongst others.
Neeraj conducts regular sessions ( 10-days) for actors as well as aspiring actors through a highly scientific and evolved workshop called “THEATRE WORKSHOP – AN ACTING TRAINING PROGRAM”. He has been conducting these workshops in Mumbai since 2006. He was also invited by the Film &Television Institute of India [FTII] to conduct this workshop for their student/actors.
In 2014, Neeraj and his theatre company actors created, designed and conducted a special three-week  module for the student/actors of The Drama School in Mumbai called ARRIVING AT THE EPIC. This workshop trained the actors to perform a Sanskrit monologue in the Indian Epic Style and was based on a text called 'Urubhangam' from the Mahabharata. The workshop used Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Taalam, Rasa and Vedic chanting as tools of the performance.
In 2015, Neeraj designed and conducted a new one-day workshop module for school teachers of pre-primary, primary and junior levels called TEACHERS' TRAINING PROGRAM for Junoon. Junoon is a powerful organisation headed by Sanjna Kapoor and Sameera Iyenger that encourages the role of Arts in school education among other things.

All the workshops that Neeraj conducts use Theatre exercises, masks, puppets, world paintings, music, martial arts, dance, breathing skills , science and psychology. They are therefore interactive, active, performance based and learning through joy.

In addition, Neeraj has spent more than nineteen long years training and researching with YOUNG ADULTS aged between 13 and 17 years. The three organizations that invite Neeraj for conducting theatre workshops for young adults every year during summertime are Prithvi Theatre (Mumbai ) ( since the last twelve years ), Rangashankara Theatre (Bangalore ) ( since the last five years ), Neerja Modi School (Jaipur). He is extremely popular as a trainer for young adults in the country and conducts these three exclusive , scientifically designed and researched workshops called SPEECH & VOICE CULTURE, ENGLISH THEATRE IN INDIAN TRADITIONS, THEATRE WORKSHOP FOR THE YOUNG. Each of these workshops for children are very different from each other and unique in their content.

Neeraj has established his own theatre company called PRAVAH. Pravah is a theatre company that functions as a Theatre laboratory for performance, training and research. It is an organization with a vision of creating a theatre residency for collaborating various Indian traditional performing arts resourced from their origins with modern contemporary theatre performing styles. It would encourage creative interaction between the traditional artistes from the villages and urban theatre actors. This amalgamation would therefore explore the relevance of classical theatre texts from India and across the globe in the present day Indian context. These would be done through “adapting” the traditional forms to suit the dramatic text so that deeper layers of meanings, metaphors and symbolisms are layered to the performances of the modern contemporary actors. As a result of this area of work, we would be exposing the urban Indian and global theatre audiences to a treasure of traditional Indian theatre arts through contemporary theatre, thus catering to a much wider audience.
The Theatre laboratory for the young is an integral part of the company whose productions with young adults aged 13 to 17 years would focus on the research, exploration and understanding of the Indian Epics, Indian mythology and great Indian writers. All productions would evolve out of intensive performance training and the scientific understanding of Indian culture. The focus would be to provide a platform for a variety of theatrical expressions and expose the young adults to nuances of basic and advanced theatre so as to create serious theatre performers and audiences out of them and  ultimately to bring them closer to their Indian roots.
Pravah is a Theatre company involved in exploring and understanding theatre performance, training and research. Its vision and engagement is to invest a lifetime in achieving  artistic excellence in the areas of acting, direction, production and training. We wish to extend and explore the possibilities of theatre being not only one of the most powerful tools of human engagement and debate ( at times even entertainment ), but also a huge source of wisdom, physical and emotional strength, and ultimately transformation of the self and society. We’d like to believe that theatre is the pause you take in between your living to take a closer look at your life. Its engagement ultimately helps human beings to generate empathy towards others and become more aware of themselves, question their surroundings, re-visit their relationships and constantly search for answers.

+919819289504      Web Link -


  1. Way to Go Neeraj :), hope we work together.

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