“I learn from children all the time”

Artiste, Arundhati Chattopadhyay, who has tried her hand at almost all forms of art, is now ready to transform her knowledge through a workshop for children at Sunaparanta.

In a candid conversation with NT BUZZ she elaborates about her interactions with children, her artistic journey and how being with children is a constant learning process
Artiste, Arundhati Chattopadhyay is one of the lucky few who was born under the shades of creativity, and was brought up literally amidst shadows of theatre and now she will transfer her knowledge of performing arts to children.
“For me, interacting with children is the most satisfying experience,” says Arundhati, who will be conducting a theatre workshop for children (6 to 10 years) titled ‘From the Page to the Stage’ at Sunaparanta – Goa centre for the Arts, Altinho, Panaji.
Her workshop will not be looking at one aspect of the art form but will evolve at every stage. “My workshop is not just to tell them about theatre. I will read out stories and will then allow the children to express themselves. That’s the reason why I will not be restricting the workshop to one particular place at Sunaparanta. This workshop is not only about performing art; it is about art and creativity, basically allowing children to open their minds. I don’t mind children just sitting and visualising the story I am narrating, what is important is allowing them to imagine or explore,” explains Arundhati accompanying her talk with a lot of animated gestures.
For Arundhati interacting with children is not something new. She has more than 20-year experience in this arena. “I was in New York right from 1975 to 1996 where I acted in off Broadway theatre. This included dance and singing. There I also got a chance to teach these forms of art to children from inner city schools. Their lifestyle was so different from those of cosmopolitan New York or New Jersey,” recollects Arundhati, who loves experimental theatre.
Arundhati, who has moved to Goa for the last two years, has done similar workshops here. “Along with Diviya Kapur of Literati I was part of the Bebook programme that dealt with under privileged children. I also conducted some programmes in Hamara School,” she adds.
When asked whether there was any difference between children here and abroad she says, “Children are children wherever you go. It doesn’t matter which class of society they come from. The important thing is to give them opportunities in order to develop their ideas. Also through experimentation they find their own identity and develop confidence,” asserts Arundhati.
Arundhati, who predominantly belongs to theatre, never restrained herself from other trying art forms. She even worked as assistant producer for some wildlife documentaries and she incorporates this knowledge into her workshops. Her love for wildlife is also one of the reasons for her choosing to stay in Goa. “We used to shoot for months in various forests of the country. My husband and I just love jungles and wildlife and we get to experience nature at Succour, where we stay,” quips Arundhati.
Along with her regular art activities, Arundhati also helps her sister, Shankuntala Kulkarni, who does video installations in Mumbai. Another of her sisters is the well know filmmaker, Chitra Palekar. Thus, Arundhati has also worked behind the scenes for movies like ‘Dayra’ and ‘Kairi’, dabbling in production, costume designing, etc. She recently worked as an assistant director for ‘Maati Maay’ that was directed by Chitra. 
During her interaction Arundhati brings in lot of stories from her childhood as she belongs to a performing artistes’ family. “When I was growing up I worked for my brother-in-law’s theatre company, Aniket Theatre Company. I was involved in all aspects of theatre. My mother was a Hindustani singer and used to work in Konkani plays in Mumbai. So I think, as a child, I was quite blessed to grow up in such an environment,” says Arundhati.
She is now all set to conduct her workshops that will be held for three weekends starting from January 13. There will be a final performance on January 28 when she wants to have a role play. “Here the audience will give a story to the students of the workshop to enact. For me such workshops are a constant learning process and I learn from children all the time,” concludes Arundhati.