Shri’s Podcast: Ep #2

Shri’s Podcast: Ep #2

This week’s topic: From being a nervous wreck on stage to being a confident orator and theatre enthusiast: My journey.


 Hello and welcome to the second episode of Shri’s Podcast where I’ll be talking about my journey from not being able to utter even a single word on stage to being a confident orator taking part in debates, elocution competitions and dramas. This is one of the changes in me that I really worked hard for and am really, really proud. If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be winning elocution competitions and dramas, me and my parents would both have had a hearty laugh. So how did I get out of that shell of stage fright? Here’s my story…

 I have 2 early memories that I don’t find that embarrassing now, as they were the catalyst for my change. The fact that these two incidents left me very embarrassed and humiliated at that point of time is the only reason why I am where I am now. Having said that, I don’t consider myself a great orator or a speaker. I’m just proud of myself for have striving to become one and not giving up on myself or didn’t live on with the stage fright like many might have, in fact, I made it my biggest enemy and decided to fight it head on. Looking back at it from today, I can safely say that I won that battle.

 Mentos: Dimaag ki batti jalade

 Well, this was true in my case. This was the first among the two incidents that is still quite fresh in my head. This happened when I was in 3rd Grade, around 11 years ago. My school had organised an ‘Ad remake’ competition, where a child had to enact a Famous TV advertisement or a dialogue from an advertisement on stage. They could dress up as these characters, use props and even get a parent or another student for a small side role. So, my parents decided to go with an ad from the famous lozenge, Mentos. The ad was set in a college classroom. A professor is teaching a class and then, a student enters, late. The student tries to sneak in without being noticed. The professor though, notices him and throws him out of class. The boy, instead of leaving, decides to use his brain and try again. He enters again this time walking backwards into the class. The professor notices this, again, but this time around, he thinks the boy is leaving the class without it being over and instead of throwing him out, takes him in and makes him sit. (Here’s the link to the video in case you want to see it: ) This was what we had to do. I was supposed to play the professor and my twin sister was supposed to play the student. I had 3-4 lines and she had probably one or two words in total. We practiced a lot for the skit and I did impressively at home. I even modulated my voice to sound deeper and my parents were certain we would at least win a consolation place if not higher. The only thing between the prize and us was the final performance on stage. 

 The day came. 15th August 2009. Independence Day. We had to go on stage and just re-enact what we’d been practicing for almost half a month, that’s all. My sister wore a tee and jeans and I wore a crisp new shirt with trousers. My dad had drawn a nice moustache above my lips and had also given me his watch to wear and a pair of old spectacles to make it more genuine. We were 4th to go. There were 3 other people before us who performed really well. When it was about time for our turn, we went up on the backstage and peeped at the audience from behind the screen. Around 300 people. Some seated, some standing, some clicking photographs of their dear offspring. Looking directly at anything that were to happen on the stage. I was just seated there a few minutes ago and yet didn’t notice that there were so many people! I turned cold with nervousness. I was literally petrified. I couldn’t move. They announced our name next and we had to go and perform but I couldn’t get myself to move even an inch. My sister elbowed me to go on and speak as I was the one who was supposed to begin and she couldn’t do her part without me doing mine. I stood in front 300 odd people, blanked out, my sister elbowing me to speak up. I had practiced the same skit almost 50 times, and had done it really at home well but as soon as I got on the stage Infront of a larger audience, I went blank. I couldn’t do anything at all. I not only embarrassed myself, but also my sister, who was ready and eager to perform and also my parents who had spent so much time with us practicing and perfecting the skit. Of course, they didn’t tell me they were embarrassed, but I knew it. That was the moment when I knew that if I didn’t get rid of my stage fear early on, it would affect me a lot in the future. The incident did indeed light up my dimaag ki batti.

 Chandrashekhar Azad (ultra-lite)

 This goes back to around 6 years, but I don’t remember exactly. The Goa Kannada Samaj based in Goa had organised a fancy dress competition on the occasion of the Kannada Rajyothsava on 1st November (Yea I know, Fancy dresses have never been my thing) The theme this time around was ‘Indian Freedom Fighters’. So, I decided to go - out of every freedom fighter out there - with Chandrashekhar Azad. His personality didn’t meet mine in any way. We picked it because it was the easiest to represent. A white dhoti, a thin moustache (drawn with some kajal), a fake gun, and that was it. Very easy to recreate. I had 2 dialogues: “Mai Chandrashekar Azad hun! Angrezo! ye dharti humaari hai, humaari thi aur humaari rahegi!!” And I was supposed to say this in a loud booming voice.  Given my past history on stage, we decided to make my dialogues as little as possible. But the most difficult thing wasn’t just the dialogues, it was the delivery of these dialogues. Now, if you’ve heard about Chandrashekhar Azad, he was this great, brave, nationalist freedom fighter who had a very rigid and bold character. He was known to face British Officers head on and even open fire on them. And as you might have already guessed, I wasn’t meant for the role at all! Nonetheless, after enough motivation from my parents, I was ready to give it a shot.

It was D-day. I went near the stage, all dressed and ready. My dad had drawn a vey accurate moustache that represented his. My mum did a little make-up and prepped me up. I also carried an old cape gun that my parents had bought for me during Diwali. I was ready, physically. Mentally, I was still a mess. I had already turned cold and was shivering. The fact that I was only wearing a dhoti and had a bare upper body, and wasn’t too comfortable, didn’t help much either.

As luck would have it, the participant before me was actually the youngest at around 5-6 years and was playing Mahatma Gandhi. As soon as he went up on stage, he started crying loudly. And just like a chain reaction all small kids waiting backstage started crying as well. I didn’t start crying but I’m pretty sure my body temperature was few degrees above 0. His mother went up on stage bough him backstage and consoled him, but he still hadn’t stopped crying. I was next! They called my name and I went completely blank, I started panicking. Even though I had only 2 lines to speak, I couldn’t remember them. I started taking hasty decisions. I ditched my cape gun backstage and climbed on to the stage. My mother kept telling me to take it as it was an essential part of my character, but I was too nervous to pay attention to anything. I could still hear my mom requesting me take the gun with me but I had already reached the mic. It was right in the middle of the stage. I looked at the audience. Around 500 people all looking at me, I went completely blank for 10 seconds, I wished time would freeze and I could just run away from there, but alas! Nothing of that sort happened. I heard my mother’s voice from behind who was prompting me the dialogues. I started speaking, “Mai….Chandrashekar…..Azad…..hun…” and walked off. That was it. Ofcourse my parents weren’t upset about it or anything, but I was. I started asking myself, “Why am I so underconfident that I can’t even go up on stage and speak 2 lines?” and that question ate me in the inside a lot. And soon after this is when I started changing myself.

First of all, I got myself enrolled in ‘Gopal’s Fun School’(GFS) an initiative from ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) Where they would impart life skills and values alongside a story from Mythology that had that particular skill in it, in an alphabetical way. For example:  for the letter A, the Mythological character would be Arjuna from Mahabharata and the Value would be Attention. The story would be the Parrot’s eye story where Arjuna tells Dronacharya that he sees only the parrot’s eye and nothing else.

We would be told one story every Sunday and we would be asked to answer questions based on these stories Infront of everyone else. Since the audience was less, I grew very confident very soon and could speak my heart out. I not only learnt about speaking in public, but also learnt speaking confidently in English in general. GFS was one of the main institutions that helped me to start getting out of my stage fright. I also acted in a few dramas while there and that was one the of my first successful stage appearances where I didn’t fumble and gave a very nice performance. My parents were shocked to see me delivering a dialogue perfectly. They were really proud of me and appreciated me a lot. Even the people over at GFS appreciated the transformation and wished me best of luck for my future.

Next year, we shifted to a new house which was a very far from the place I used to have these sessions. So, I had to discontinue it. But that didn’t stop me. I was determined on getting rid of my stage fright. Luckily my school offered Theatre Arts as a Value Education subject and this was what helped me get rid of stage fear completely. Every week during this particular period, we would randomly be divided into teams of 6-7 and we would be given topics to present a small skit on. We would have only 20-30 minutes to come up with an idea, so if we had to perform well and not be embarrassed, we had to talk and brainstorm with the team. And this unknowingly developed communication and team skills within us. I learnt so much from these classes that before I knew it, I wasn’t a stage phobic person anymore, in fact, I began liking going up on stage and talking wherever and whenever I had an opportunity to do so. I began listening to TEDx speeches and learning from them. I started taking part in debates and elocution competitions confidently. These skills helped me so much that just a few years later, I was named the Head Boy of my school. I was really proud and very grateful to everyone who helped me work on myself.

I remember asking a judge at an elocution competition what a good speaker was. She gave me one of the most beautiful answers I have ever heard. I will quote her here:

“A speaker always has 3 speeches. First one is the one that he wants to give. Second, the one that he practices to give and third is the one he actually delivers on stage. And 99% of the times, these are very distinct from one another. A person who can make all the three same, right from the beginning, is a real good speaker.” I have kept this advice in mind ever since that day and have been working on myself to be one.

Thank you so much for listening to my banter, again. If you have any feedback or criticism or even just made it all the way to the end, please feel free to leave your opinions/suggestions down below in the comments section or ping me personally. I’d be more than happy to improve and get better. Also, if you have any suggestions on what is should write next, do let me know about that as well.


Until next time,






Wow! This is fantastic. Wonderful narrative. Eager to know your further experiences.


Very well written. That piece of advice the judge gave is so true!! Keep writing <3