Danseuse par excellence
She spent her childhood dancing either rehearsing or performing, and it is no surprise that Mithila Sharma has devoted her life to this art form. Her love for the stage and dance blossomed early when she was just nine and gave her first public performance (Chirayu Nritya performed by Panchakanyas) at the Mahendra Police Club for late king Birendra’s birthday.
Sharma can very vividly recall the memories of that performance. “I was the worst dancer of the group, the rest were experts. I still remember having an inferiority complex. Everyone praised me after the performance, but deep inside I knew I did not dance that well.”
And this feeling became the seed of determination and hardwork. “If that had not happened, I would not have done so much for dance,” she says on a realistic note.
She went on to master this art form learning not only the basics but the nitty-gritties of classical dance learning under late Rajpal Thapa, Bikendra Thapa, Sarita Shrestha and Basnata Shrestha.
While all the others in that group left dancing, Sharma went on to become the danseuse par excellence.
Powerhouse of acting
Besides dancing, Sharma is also known for her powerful acting in many movies and serials. She started her acting career at the age of 15 in theatre with the comedy duo of Dhurba Hada and Raj Pal.
Is dancing closer to her heart, or acting?
She finds a common thread between the two - expression. “For me dance is not just about doing the steps. It is a way of expressing emotions and telling a story, which is what acting is all about. The difference lies only in the style.”
She defines the most powerful character in any form of art as the lead actor. Hence, it is no surprise that though she has done more character roles than lead roles, she has left quite an impression on her audience.
An artiste’s plight
The fact that artistes of earlier times had to depend on a day job to earn living makes Sharma sad. “The saddest part is that artistes had to look for other sources to earn a living. If they were free of this compulsion, then they would have done so much more for art in Nepal.”
She feels artistes during those days were more emotional and happier with what they had done without analysing personal gains. However, she agrees things have changed in Nepal and with the growth of media, today artistes have a record of what they have done. “For all those great performances, all they got was the applause. That’s it. No one can see them again,” says Sharma.
So, is Mithila Sharma the person different from Mithila Sharma the artiste?
By nature she is different from some of the characters she portrays. “At times I just cannot accept the things that my characters do. Thus, certain conflicts occur between my nature and my character, and at such times I always suppress myself. I have to. As an actor, it is my dharma.”
As she has great regard for her art, she prefers projects with subjects that touch her heart. Although at times she has to perform on topics she can’t relate
to, she confesses that performing to subjects close to her heart gives her a different high.
Living life her way
Soft spoken and charming, Sharma is very confident and secure as a person. While some people make her single status an issue, for her it was just a simple decision.
“I just didn’t have the interest and so chose this lifestyle. That’s it,” she says.
And it hardly matters to her what people say for she knows that people who matter to her understand this decision. “First you need to convince yourself, then your family and those who matter to you,” she shares adding that she doesn’t like the weak image created of a single woman at times. “When you have made a decision to live life in a certain way, why do you expect protection and sympathy from others? If you can’t fight on your own, then may be your decision was not right.”
Sharma strongly feels that the way you carry yourself also decides “society’s reactions” and shares she has never faced any harsh criticism.
Her sister Madhurika, and friends Bimala Rai, Sashi Rai and Chandra Rai are her pillars of strength. She considers herself a very lucky person as she has always received moral support from her seniors, colleagues and her students - she teaches dance at St Mary’s School and Kanti Ishori Shishu Vidhyalaya.
Someone who doesn’t compare and judge people, Sharma believes everyone should set a limit for themselves. “You should discipline yourself and not expect someone else to do it.”
Her philosophy of life is to live the present moment with honesty. “I don’t have big dreams. I just want to continue what I am doing till my last breath,” says a contented Sharma.
How long will she dance?
“My whole life,” she says with a laugh, “but I don’t know how long there will be people to see my performance?”