Smith Artist of the Month: Kavita Bhandari

Kyle Kaplan '15 Arts Editor

Kavita Bhandari ’16, a recent transfer student and gifted actress, has been featured in two of Afreen Ghandi’s ’16 plays. After her powerful performance in Mehru last semester, Bhandari returns to the stage as Spura Baai, the domestic help and comic relief in Kamala, which closes on March 8th. She agreed to an interview with The Sophian to discuss her passion for acting and her feelings about her most recent part.

How is theatre at Smith different from how it was at your previous college? 

I did theatre at the college I transferred from, Lady Shri Ram College for Women in New Delhi, India. I feel that theatre at Smith is very professional. It’s a great plus point, because Lady Shri Ram College didn’t have and assistant stage manager and an assistant director—there were a bunch of us actors, a director, and one stage manager. At Smith, there is such an attention to detail that I have noticed in both Mehru and Kamala, the plays I have been performed in here thus far. I haven’t had the opportunity to venture out to do more mainstream productions at Smith. Both Mehru and Kamala take place in India, so I do identify similarities between the theatre I was a part of at my old college and here. I would definitely like to venture out and perhaps during my junior year see how more mainstream productions at Smith to see how that might be different, even if I just work backstage.

Irrespective of what you do after Smith, do you want theatre to be a part of your life? 

I hope to go into clinical psychology, but I definitely want acting, in whatever amount, as part of my life. It’s something I’m very passionate about, and it brings out a different side of me. I’m an introvert, but on stage I can be anyone. I loved the energy the audience gave me in my performance in Kamala on Friday, and I feed off of that. I loved that I could make people laugh, it was a great feeling.

What has it been like working with Afreen Gandhi in Kamala after performing in her reading, Mehru? 

Mehru was on a smaller scale and Kamala is huge. What I thought was

interesting about Kamala, a play she wrote as an adaptation, is that she performed the role that I play, but not once did she impose any of that on me. She never once told me how to do it based on how she did it. She let me explore it, let me give the character different quirks and a different walk.  She allowed me to bring a part of me to the character.

What stands out to you most about Kamala? 

It focuses on an issue that was not prevalent now but was prevalent at one point—the flesh trade. The idea that women are commodities is still widespread, and this is true all over the world. This is something that can be seen. Kamala is also the first South Asian play that has been put on at Smith and the acting and set—everything—to the costumes, it offers something different. It was really beautiful to see it all come together during tech week, to see how all of us have grown.