Posts Tagged ‘english’

Theatre Review: “Credit Titles” by Bangalore Little Theatre, Bangalore International Centre, 210719

July 22, 2019

It was like a rare alignment of the planets: several factors come together to pull me out of my usual Ranga Shankara ambit for watching a play.

I had not been to visit Bangalore International Centre, which opened a while ago in Domlur; Bangalore Little Theatre, as part of their “VP 80” festival, was staging “Credit Titles”; the play, written by Vijay Padaki, whose 80th birthday the festival marks, was based on a story by Vinod Vyasulu, an eminent economist whom I’ve known for a long time, as our daughters share a cose friendship dating from 1988. And last but not least, my friend Raji Hari was going to see the 3.30pm show on Saturday, July 20, 2019. So off I went to visit the Centre, and watch the play.

The Centre is a beautifully constructed building, full of indoor/outdoor spaces, airy rooms and several levels of areas that can be hired and used for many purposes; I even enjoyed the plants and trees there. Perhaps because it is still new, there was no canteen open for us to get a snack or a coffee before after the play. This is the second time my friend and I are attending a play at a venue where no food and snacks are available; it does make a difference to our theatre experience if, at the end of a long drive to see a play, we cannot have even a cup of coffee or tea before after it.

The 180-seat auditorium, an even more intimate space than Ranga Shankara, was well-appointed, and seemed to have excellent acoustics; we settled down to watch the play. I must mention here that at no other venue except Ranga Shankara have I attended productions that start on time. On this day, too, the play started twenty minutes late, with an apology for the delay.

The play has an interesting background; I will dwell on it here,because it involves another famous Bangalore institution. Both Prof Vinod Vyasulu and Vijay Padaki were colleagues at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and published work together, combining development economics and behavioural sciences. When Prof. Vyasulu wrote a short story about the question of intellectual property rights, mentioning that the Dunkel Draft international agreement might well be called the “Darkness Draft” because poor countries seemed to be in the dark about what such an agreement entailed, he asked Prof Padaki to convert it into a play. This was done, and the play submitted to the Hindu competition, recently instituted, for contemporary play scripts. Months later came the news that the play had won the award.

1 crt
The cradle of contention.

The play deals with one of several important issues arising from the Dunkel Draft. It isthe ethical-legal question of patenting life forms. In other words: who does life belong to? A couple has a baby using modern technological methods, but the question remains about this DTT (Designer Test Tube) baby…whose baby is it? The prospect of high revenue from this baby, whose genes have been customised for intelligence and success, leads several people to clamour for a share in the pie; a judge has to adjudicate in a matter where the social and the legal aspects overlap and intersect.

The scenes depicting the various issues developing around the “issue” ( a pun on both the child and the issues that his birth bring about) were well done, and there were many moments of both humour and deeper meaning. The dialogues were very meaningful. The cast brought out the ethical issues well, through the narrative, which goes from the couple’s home, where a maid takes an active role in their lives, to the doctor’s clinic, to the court of law where everyone noisily demands a share in the child. At last comes the 18-year-old human being, Vijayendra, himself, and the denouement occurs.

2 crt
The sutradharini with the technological miracle baby.

The stage design was quite elaborate, with several screens, and parts of the stage depicting the couple’s home, outdoor spaces, and the law court. Several wooden boxes, painted black, served as seats, or turned into the judge’s bench in a versatile conversion. A deck of cards, with a card game proceeding, brought others of the cast into the action. There was a lot of self-referential dialogue, with the sutradhar being changed into a “sutradharini”, with a male sidekick for a change; they, too, wove in and out of the story, commenting on the development of the play as it proceeded. As is usual in such cases, the couple who wants a baby also consults a godman; the religious, spiritual, ritualistic and scientific steps to conceive a baby went hand in hand.

The sound design was the best part of the play. The acoustics in the auditorium were excellent, and the dialogue was clearly audible (alas, so were the occasional fluffs!) The audience had no difficulty on this front.

3 crt
Much happens over a game of cards.

The lighting design did have some loopholes. Though, for the most part, the action of the play, and the characters taking it forward, were properly highlighted, there were times when the strong lights left a character’s face in shadow, even when that character was speaking. This is something that can be rectified by a member of the lighting crew sitting in the auditorium and watching the light effects carefully.

4  crt
The godman and the supplicant.

The costume design was excellent. Contemporary clothing, with ethnic wear for the sutradhars, sarees for the women and both formal and informal wear for the men, conveyed a sense of both the everyday nature and the earnestness of the topic at hand. Intellectual property rights may be decided in the refined heights of think-tank towers, but it is everyday people that they affect.

The placement, and removal, of various props (especially the black-painted wooden boxes) did take a little time, and though it did slow down the play, probably, with practice, this can be streamlined.

5  crt
All concerned demanding their legal rights.

In all, it was a production that has much promise; with some more rehearsals, and streamlining, it can be a lay that brings home to the audience the ethical and moral dilemmas that accompany today’s modern scientific and technological developments, and asks, in telling terms, what these mean in human terms. Can parenting be subject to patenting as well? is the question that the play raises.

6  crt
The 18-year-old Designer Test Tube baby with the two sutradhars.

Credit Titles, by Bangalore Little Theatre
Language: English, with occasional Hindi.
Story: Vinod Vyasulu
Playwright: Vijay Padaki
Direction: Archana Kariappa, Murtuza Khetty
Sound Design: Murtuza Khetty
Lighting: Murtuza Khetty ,Abhishek S.
Backstage: Aditya Nair, S Venkatesh
Makeup: Minti Jain
Cast:
Lalee/Laluram: Guruprerana Shabadi
Leela/Leelamma: Rashmi Vadavi
Ratna Kumar: Brinda Nair
Prabhat Kumar: Sanjeev Gadre
Mira Arora: Divya Krishna
Dr Ram Kapoor: Naveen Tater
Swami Anantanand: Anish Abraham
Judge: Shailesh Rudra
Vijendra Kumar: Jayaditya Parakh
Duration: I hr 20min, without interval
Tickets: Rs.200

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Cast taking a bow after the performance.

All photos by Deepa Mohan.

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Theatre Review: “Robi’s Garden” by Bangalore Little Theatre, RS,140619

June 20, 2019

It is always interesting to revisit a play I have watched before, and see how the production has evolved. This was the spirit in which I went to watch “Robi’s Garden” by Bangalore Little Theatre, which I had reviewed in 2011.

(You can read the review

here )

But I was in for a major surprise! The earlier play was definitely one for children, with many children and BLT volunteers participating, with both the cast and the audience having a merry time, rollicking through a selection of Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories. It was an occasion to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Association for the Mentally Challenged (AMC) as well as the 150th year of Tagore.

This time, the occasion was equally memorable. BLT is celebrating the fact that

Vijay Padaki

vijaypadaki140619

turned 80 a few days ago, and BLT is putting up a series of events to celebrate this landmark of the doyen of theatre in Bangalore. So the focus was now Vijay Padaki, and the play took on an entirely new look.

Instead of the big cast of characters, we had just two on the stage: Minty Jain and Vijay Padaki himself; a table and two chairs, with some images being projected on a screen at the back of the stage, where all the props, the stage design being minimal in the extreme. The table was creatively used; it was, by turns, an operation table, and a deathbed!

The theatre experience was also completely different. Instead of a hall full of families and children, it was intimate story-telling theatre, in the small auditorium of Alliance Francaise, with a small audience sitting close to the stage ( I sat further back in order to be able to take photographs). The children who went to Jorasanko and met Robi da were now created in our imagination, as Minty and Vijay took the audience, once again, through a selection of Rabindranath’s work.

The experience of watching Vijay on stage is very different from seeing Vijay’s work as a director, or reading his work. His mastery of stagecraft was immediately apparent. He garnered the audience’s minds effortlessly and took them off to Robi’s Garden, populated by so many different people (not always human…for example, there is the tiger who wants to wash his black stripes off!). A clap of the hands brought on a new vignette, a look into another story, and the audience went on this roller coaster ride with the two actors on stage. Touches of humour, of satire, or gentle poking at blind customs and rituals…all of Tagore’s view points were well elicited in the smorgasbord of tableaus.

The costumes were simple: pyjamas and kurtas, with colourful waistcoats, that added bright dashes of colour to the stage, and brought the audience’s visual focus to the actors. The narrative was interactive in that at one point, two children were called up to the stage and included in the performace.

robi'sgdn.

Vijay and Minty with the children from the audience.

The lighting and the sound contributed well to the effects of the play, but it was definitely the cast who carried the burden of the performance on their shoulders. A few lines were fluffed, but the action quickly carried on. A ten-minute interval was declared.

It was at this point that I clearly understood how an external factor can affect the playgoers’ experience. My friends and I had left south Bangalore before 5 pm to battle the traffic and reach Alliance Francaise; when the interval was announced, we realized the there was no canteen and that we could not get anything to eat. We waited through the interval, and enjoyed Vijay’s reading of the play, “Anklet”, where he single-handedly brought the story of Malati, Damodar, and Devi alive.

But when, at 8.45pm, he asked the audience if he could do another reading and then a short piece from Tagore, we just could not wait any longer, as we also had a long drive back home through the traffic. We had to walk out, a piece of disrespect to the theatre and the artiste that we regret deeply. I personally wish Vijay had done the short piece first and the long story afterwards, at least we could have watched that. But those in the front rows opted for the long story and we had no say in the matter. As it was, it took us more than an hour to get home.

I think that every theatre venue should defintely ensure that there is some food available for theatregoers who come spending a lot of time and effort in the evening traffic, as otherwise, the evening is compromised. I have written before on the pathetic food situation at Chowdiah, with a few samosas and chai getting over too fast…it was one of the many reasons I stopped attending theatre events there.

I also wish that BLT had made the sequence of events clear to us earlier.There was no brochure available, and we had no idea how long the play, or the performance, would go on.

Another point which all theatre groups must observe is that of punctuality. The play started 15 minutes late; I find that all theatre venues except Ranga Shankara are not punctual at all, and seem to penalize the punctual members of the audience. Let me take this opportunity to thank Ranga Shankara for sticking staunchly to punctuality, in spite of often being reviled for it.

The net result was that we could not watch the evening of theatre (which we all came so far to enjoy) beyond a certain time, in spite of the excellent acting and production values, and the chance of watching a noted thespian performing. And if felt very bad indeed, to have to leave a performance before it was over, but we had no other option.

But we liked what we watched, and I am hoping that the rest of the celebration, “VP80” will have much more in store for theatre-going audiences of Bangalore.

“Robi’s Garden” by Bangalore Little Theatre
A play followed by severa readings, with a 10 min interval.
2 hours approx.

Cast: Vijay Padaki and Minty Jain
Crew: Unknown
Tickets: Rs.200
Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, Fri, June 14, 2019

Theatre Review: “Ultimate Kurukshetra” by Actors Ensemble, Ranga Shankara, 060619

June 10, 2019

The two Hindu epics are majestic pieces of literature, grand in their sweep of space and time; they stand as beacons of moral and ethical values, and we generally hold them in awe and reverence. We certainly do not associate them with humour, or light-heartedness.

So, when I got an email from Ram Ganesh Kamatham about his award-winning play, “Ultimate Kurkshetra” which deals not with the forefront, and the heroes of the Mahabharata, but of the very ordinary people who populate the fringes of the army on the eve of the great war of Kurukshetra, I was intrigued and rushed off to watch.

Ultimate Kurukshetra, RS, 060619, Citizen Matters

The first attraction was the sumptuous “ratha” (chariot) that stood on the stage, with several weapons such as the mace, spears and so on. When the play started, Yuyutsu, that single Kaurava who suffered pangs of conscience before the war, appeared, and took the trip to bathos with his announcement that he was called “Yuyu” for short! The other characters then took the stage: Sudarshana the warrior and Adi, his charioteer, who have been issued a chariot but no horses (Adi has been given a token and a promise of payment after the war!). Daksha, the mahout, who is busy calculating just how much poop and dung all those horses and elephants on the battlefield will generate. Maya, the courtesan, who wants to be paid for her work last night…and whose relationships with other men are slowly revealed, the last one being the high point or climax on which the interval happens. And most delightful of all, just as Adi says, “This is a battlefield, I don’t see people wandering around”…there comes Vyasa himself, in a hilarious camp version, prancing through the battlefield as if it were a field of lilies, making observations that had the audience in splits, sporting a peacock-feather pen and a palm-leaf to write on.

Incident follows hilarious incident. Daksha has devised an elephant-head mask (it’s that of a young elephant) that will prevent the war elephants from trampling on the warrior wearing them, even though the elephants themselves seem to have been conscripted from various other callings in temples and zoos! The mask is too small, and gets stuck on Sudarshana’s head, prompting Vyasa, in one of his numerous appearances, to say that he’s been looking for a scribe to write the epic (or as he calls it in true Malayali style, “yepick”!) and (with a sideways look at the so-called elephant) that he seems to have found one. Some important incidents from the epic are referred to, such as the lacquer house built by Purochana for the Pandavas, which is burnt to the ground to kill them off; Bheeshma’s “iccha mrithyu” or death at his own wish; But through all the comedy runs the thread of deep philosophy: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets hurt” is one line that has stayed with me well after the play. Another beautiful and moving sequence is when Sudarshana describes how he, too, heard Krishna giving the Geetopadesha to Arjuna.The words showed the playwright’s prose rising to poetry.

The play winds on to a very satisfactory conclusion, with Maya also entering the battle as a warrior, equal to the men she has been dealing with. As the conch of war sounds, Vyaas in his batik top and pista-green dhoti sums up the premise of the play, and Yuyutsu reappars to state it: the ultimate Kurukshetra is not a battle in the distant past, it is a battle in every day of our lives, with the choices we make.

Enjoying and laughing my way through the performance did not prevent me from noticing and appreciating the technical aspects of the production. First of all, even before we entered the theatre, the excellent three-page brochure gave us an introduction to the cast and crew, and what we should expect in the two hours ahead. The play won the Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting in 2011. Apart from the information about the cast and crew of the play and about the group itself, I enjoyed the director’s note about the rasas to be found in the Mahabharata, and how he came to write the play, with a “notable absence of grandstanding champions, and a surfeit of flawed, under-equipped and everyday heroes doing their best to get by in a very challenging situation”.

The stage design was done so that the cast could move backwards and forwards, to the side and centre of the stage, easily. The properties and production values were lavish and unstinted: the weapons, the golden chariot (alas, no horses to move it!) all added to the effect.

The costumes, too, showed that a lot of thought had gone into them…the photograph I have posted here, of the cast taking their bow after the performance, shows the spectrum of colours which made the costumes a visual spectacle.The dhotis, the courtesan’s robes, the armour…all were well-designed and added to the eye appeal while not hindering the movements of the artistes.

Indeed, movement was something there was a lot of. Well-choreographed fight sequences (and most of the fights except perhaps the sequence of Arjuna and his bow, Gandiva, were not of the great war, but skirmishes amongst the characters, as personal frictions came in the way of being united as a part of the Kaurava army), the amorous moments between Maya, Sudarshana and Adi, they all flowed smoothly.

I must say that in the performance I watched, there was some fluffing of dialogues by the characters who played Daksha and Sudarshana; my daughter and son-in-law, who watched the play the next evening, reported much less of such glitches. In the main, though, the dialogues and the punch lines were well-delivered, and the audience’s laughter showed their enjoyment.

The sound design, and the music, added to heighten the denouement of the play, and were very effective indeed, without resorting to the usual noises that sometimes accompany comedy on the stage.

The lighting was also excellent. Highlighting and general lighting, some strobe effects and other areas were handled very well, evoking the battlefield in both its majesty, and its bathos.

I must,however, add that not everyone in the audience liked the play equally; my daughter’s friend,it appears, was “quite disgusted” and said that she did not like the great epic being thus parodied. Different opinions for different people, of course… I must say that I enjoyed the humour and the dialogue very much! I happen to think that a good satire pays its own tribute to the majesty of the original.

All in all, a rollicking run through the prelude to the great war of Kurukshetra, which yet showed up human frailties, egos and the interplay of personalities, and put forward, at the end, the truth that with every choice we make, we fight our own Kurukshetras every day.

Looking forward to the next play from the pen of this talented playwright!

“Ultimate Kurukshetra” by Actors Ensemble
Duration: 120 min with a 10 min interval
Written and directed by Ram Ganesh Kamatham
Designed and Produced by Mallika Prasad Sinha
Language: English
6 and 7 June, 2019, Ranga Shankara

Cast:
Vyasa: Anil Abraham
Adi: Harish Seshadri
Sudarshana: Karn Malhotra
Daksha: Anirudh Acharya
Maya: Mallika Prasad Sinha
Yuyutsu: Ram Ganesh Kamatham

Costumes: Sankeerthi Aipanjiguly
Backdrop and Daksha’s house: Prasanna D
Chariot and Floor: Sridhar Murthy
Tracks: Aman Anand, Snehal Pinto
Sound: Shashank
Make-up: Uma Maheshwar
Props: Ullas Hydoor
Lights: Naveen M G
Front of House: Vinay Shastri
Stage Manager: Lekha Naidu

Poster Design and Illustrations: Sachin Jadhav
Stills and Video: Cletus Rebello
Backstage Crew: Disha Rao, Srinivas Gowda, Prashanth M, Lakshyaraj Rathod
Venkatraman Balakrishna and Meera Sitaraman provided “Gandiva”

Patrons: Dr Vibha Prasad, Mrs Pratibha Prasad, Rahul Raghuram, Shantanu Prabhu, Swaroop Srinath.

You can see the trailer

here

Suitable for audiences over 13 years
Tickets: Rs.200.

Theatre Review: “Monsters in the Dark”, Bangalore Little Theatre, Ranga Shankara, 270219

February 28, 2019


Cast and crew taking a bow after the performance.Photo: Deepa Mohan

“The Emperor of All Maladies”, a Pulitzer-winning book by Siddharth Mukherjee is an intense book about that dreaded “C” word…cancer, and looks at the dread ailment via multiple lenses…history, biography, describing the several discoveries, obstacles,triumphs and failures in humanity’s long journey with, and battle against, cancer.

To base a play on a book like this is a major challenge, and Bangalore Little Theatre rose up to that challenge with their play, which I watched at Ranga Shankara on the 27th of February, ’19. The theatre group had produced an excellent brochure, which described the play. I skimmed through it, wanting to let the theatre experience wash over me, without preconceptions.

The play was indeed as intense as the book; cancer is viewed like a kaleidoscope, from the opening scene of the “oncomice” (patented in the process of studying cancer), to how it feels to be diagnosed with the dread disease; from the scientists and doctors who made their contributions to the therapy, their right and wrong decisions; the ethics committees that sat in judgement on them, often hindering or stopping protocols; the suffering of cancer patients, the positivity and negativity they face from those around them, and the mental framework of the survivors. The references were more to leukaemia in children, which is a very emotional issue. The denouement and the climax of the play comes with a zing, and a hark-back to the beginning, that I cannot reveal without spoiling the suprise!

The stage design was well done; one area was designated as a kind of lab set up, where doctors and scientists could be seen pondering and worrying over tests and results; another, with two step-ladders (why did the two actors have to sit on different levels was never clear to me), represented the ethics committee’s sessions. A bench also became a hospital bed with the addition of a saline drip stand, and two chairs and a table at the left of the stage became an area where a friendship between two people blossoms into love, while one of them is diagnosed with cancer, though she is training to be an oncologist herself.

The costumes that the cast wore were very interesting. All of the cast, except for the character of the budding oncologist, wore very smart dungarees/overalls; the addition of coats, lab coats, or lace-edged ponchos demarcated the differentiation in the characters portrayed.

The dialogue was another very difficult part of the play, consisting, as it did, of many technical terms and names of protocols and processes. The playwrights tried to overcome this difficulty by simplifying as much as they could, and also using a blackboard to write some of the figures (such as 41,000 doctors who responded to a survey, or the names of the V.A.M.P protocol) so that they were clear to the audience. In spite of this, the jargon did tend to overwhelm us and we struggled, also, to keep up with the names of the doctors and scientists; some who wanted glory, and some who were truly dedicated. I must compliment the cast on their excellent command of these difficult lines, and the clear diction which ensured that the audience got the names well.

The music in the production was a major part of it. From the drum that heightened the tension in scenes, the music at every point underscored the narrative of the play, and the building tension of unfolding events. The eerie tune of “Three Blind Mice”m played on the harmonica, heightened the fact that not only the laboratory mice but the patients themselves, are sometimes the guinea pigs of those who try to work out a cure for this disease, trying new treatments and protocols on hapless sufferers.

The lighting was extremely effective too, highlighting the action at different parts of the stage, and picking up expressions such as Dastan’s amorous humour, Deeksha’s study-related tensions, or the sadness on Carla’s face as she realizes her illness. The darkness made space and time for the shifting of the stage props such as the benches, and stools, the positions for which were clearly marked on the floor of the stage.

The direction was one of the best parts of the production I watched; by being unseen, it was all the more effective. However, I would certainly suggest that a certain looseness in the production could be tightened up, which would also cut short the length of the play. I think, that with more stagings of the play, this may be done.

This is not a play for those who are looking for an evening of candy-floss escape from the real world; it brings the audience face to face with the enemy within us, that humanity has faced, fought, overcome and succumbed to, over time. It showed us how ambition or vainglory can sometimes trump compassion and empathy; but it also brought us the stories of those who conquered the illness, those who made breakthroughs in the treatments and ended with the statement that negated the title of the book on which it is based: “It is not the emperor of maladies”, but just the foe that must, and should, be conquered. A worthy effort by Bangalore Little Theatre, and I look forward to watching further productions of this play to see how it evolves.

Monsters in the Dark, by Bangalore Little Theatre
Ranga Shankara, 27 Feb ’19
75 min
Playwrights: Ravi Chari, Kavya Srinivasan
Directors: Murtuza Khetty, Deepak Mote
Costumes and Set: Aruna Nori
Cast: Abhishek Sundaravadanan, Deepthi Adappa, Disha Mittal, Khyati Raja, Meera Girijan, Minti Jain, Paawan Mukker, Prabha Venkatesh, Ratneshwar Bannerghaee, Shreekant Road, Shreya Sen, Sneha Sridhar, Vignesh Suresh
Backstage: B N Rangashre, Vinay Kambappa, Vaidya Ojha
Music: Aniruddh G, Harmonica
Tickets: Rs.200

Production supported by a grant from Kusum and Mohandas Pai and contributions from Bangalore Little Theatre, Health and Humanities, St. John's Research Institute, and Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai.

“Bali” at Ranga Shankara, 230219, by Adishakti

February 26, 2019

It had been quite a while since I went to Ranga Shankara for a play, and the blurb about “Bali” was interesting enough to pull me in. Here’s the quotation from the excellent brochure that was handed out before the play:

“Adishakti’s Bali is a retelling of the various events that lead up to the battle between Bali and Ram and eventually, the death of Bali. The play explores the notion of right and wrong, and how it may change when each and every character is given an opportuntiy to voice their thoughts and opinions.”

With this intriguing introduction, I went in to watch the play, and it did not disappoint. From the very first scene, the intensity of the tension was kept up. The play did not always proceed in a linear fashion, but used a pastiche of scenes to put over the premise, that what is right or wrong changes according to who is telling the story…Bali, Tara, Sugriva, Angadha, Ram…or Ravan.

bali, RS, 230219
The cast and crew take a bow after the performance.

Let me discuss the technical aspects of the production first. The actors were all very lithe and some of the choreography reminded me of Kalaripayattu move in the agility. This contributed a lot to the denouement of the narrative.

The actors were all quite word perfect, and there was not a single “flub” in the production I watched.Since no masks were used (I was wondering if they would be), facial expressions came across clearly, and indeed, in several scenes, were intensified to nearly a mime effect.

The music was excellent throughout. The audience responded to the music as much as to the action on stage, and it heightened the intensity to a great degree. When the music stopped, the silences were quite as eloquent.

The costumes were what I call “contemporary ethnic”. While not precisely ethnic, they were in the flowing, easy lines, enabling easy mobility; a couple of “filmy” costumes notwithstanding, they felt quite authentic. The little tableau of Vali and Sugriva twitching up the ends of their dhotis to tie up at the waist was very entertaining, and one of the few times I have seen costumes form a part of the action!

The stage was, intriguingly, completely bare, and apart from a kind of stand in the “theru koothu” presentation scenes, continued so. This put more pressure on the cast to take forward the play without the help of props…another unusual feature, in a play set on a mythological figure. The few props that were used, such as stones,rolling balls, and ropes, were sometimes understandable, sometimes (as in the scene of two women alternately reaching for the stones and fighting over them) a little obscure.

The lighting was also of a very high order. Characters were highlighted, the colours changed with the mood in the action, and the lighting enhanced the mood of the play at every scene.

The play alternated between a “regular” stage and a “theru koothu” (street plays of Tamil Nadu”) format. In the latter, more exaggeration was permitted, to convey the ideas and emotions. The cast, too, were dressed in more allegorical costumes.

Given all these technical inputs, the play effectively put across its message. Though some parts were still a little puzzling ( I never worked out the character of the female companion of Tara…who was she, what did she represent?) in the main, the high energy of the play sustained throughout the performance, and set the audience to introspecting….what is right or wrong? Who is an enemy, who is a friend? Can someone be slain in secret? Can another man’s wife be taken as one’s own, as part of victory? (Rama’s hidden slaying of Vali is, through the centuries, one of the most controversial part of the Ramayana.) We, as an audience, felt, in fact, drained at the end of the performance, having sustained an emotional and energy high through the 70-minute performance.

I am also intrigued by calling the play “Bali” instead of “Vali”. The wiki entry on Vali tells me that the name is often spelt Bali in many Indian languages, but to me, the name is Vali, so I am still wondering if there was a specific reason to spell it in the Bengali/Assamese/Oriya way.

I was very impressed by the direction. Such high-energy productions can easily run away with the narrative or the emotions, and to guide the performance and yet not be seen to be obviously doing so, is quite a feat!

All in all, not one of the light-entertainment plays that one goes to, to get away from the stresses and strains of the everyday world, but one that made me feel, and think, intensely. Hats off to Adishakti, and I hope I will get the chance fo watch more of their work!

“Bali”, by Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts Research
Written and directed by Nimmy Raphael
Cast: Vinay Kumar, Arvind Rane, Ashiqa Salvan, Kiyomi Mehta, Rijul Ray
Music arragned and composed by Vinay Kumar and played by Meedhu Miriyam
Music for the Tara/Bali scene composed by Kirtana Krishna and Vinay Kumar
Lights designed by Vinay Kumar, executed by Anand Satheendran
Creative Guidance: Anmol Vellani and Vinay Kumar
Prodcution Managers: Apoorva Arthur and Bhairavi
Costumes designed by Viji Roy
Duration: 75 min.

Poetry from my daughter’s pen

May 3, 2018

Dopamine skies
1st May 2018

…eight-nine-ten-change
The wind offers cool whispers
As we rotate the other ankle
Copper pod petals cling defiantly
To the dark tar sheet
Rinsed clean sometime last night
Dawn stirs awake in wisps
Night dances on her snooze button
A drop on my shoulder at Madhavan Park
Reminds me to speed up
The unconcerned metro
Zooms past swaying branches
Breezy gusts offer approval
For my effort down 40th cross.
Lunges stretch to the horizon
Mountain-like in layered bands of grey
Soft sheets give way to seductive swirls above
The corner of the terrace is on fire
Gulmohar flames are un-extinguishable
My abs soften down to shavasana
The sky begins to kiss us all
Dopamine drops
Fragile at first, then less delicate
We are compelled to linger
Then submit to the splendid shower
A rainbow day awaits me.

Stages, by Herman Hesse

October 24, 2017

Stages
As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
–Hermann Hesse
(translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

Multilingual humour

June 28, 2017

What do you call a bee that comes from America?

USB

What do you call a lady who drinks only one tea in a day?

Jaswanti

Why don’t people clap in Afghanistan?

Because of ‘Tali-ban’

How do you ask your ‘Maasi’ to take a dip in water?

Diplomacy!😀😀

How do you say “she is calling a cab” in one word?

Vocabulary

Which Pakistani cricketer does not have a date of birth?

Umar Gul

What you call a fat girl waiting at the Bus Stop.

MOTIVATING.

August 4, 2014

I was looking at a Facebook post, made by Viju JB,of a very old photograph, of a couple, taken at their wedding. This suddenly put me in mind of an old English magazine that was very much a part of our lives…the

Illustrated Weekly of India.

The subject title is because we had a Marwari newspaper/magazine agent, who would come regularly to our home, bringing the latest magazines, and comics. (Something that just doesn’t happen any more.) I can still remember his face! He would arrive on his cycle, accept a cup of chai from my mother, and both of them would sit, and settle down for a nice session. Dell (and later, Gold Key) comics, Archie comics, Illustrated Classics comics, and Disney….my mother truly bought them by the dozen, and though the Reader’s Digest had started coming home by post, my mother (my father only provided; he was never home, all these were my mother’s interests!) would buy the magazines…I remember the starting of the “Junior Statesman” which was soon called “JS” and became the trendy youth magazine. (I also remember feeling out of touch with the very Westernized lifestyle it seemed to espouse.) Time, Life, National Geographic, Femina, Caravan, Filmfare…and of course, what our newsagent called the “Lusted Weekly”, and which most of us referred to as just the “Weekly”. It was a large-sized magazine (they all were!), and I went through each issue eagerly.

The wedding photos used to be a regular feature at the back of the issue, comprising many couples, looking deadpan into the camera in the wedding fashions of the day. (Almost no one had a smile on their faces.)

I also remember Nissim Ezekiel writing regularly, Kamala Das’ “My Life”, and Khushwant Singh’s editorial stamp on the magazine….I do remember that Pritish Nandy was the editor at a later stage…his daughter and mine were born on the same day, and the mothers shared a room at the Woodlands Nursing Home (Nov 2, 1978.)

I enjoyed Mario Miranda’s wonderful cartoons, and Raji Nimboopani and Moonswamy were good friends. I remember Raghu Rai’s excellent photographs….oh…the Lusted Weekly was certainly a wonderful part of our lives in those days. R K Laxman did a lot of work for the magazine, too; I never dreamed that years later (Dec 8, 1992) I would meet Laxman himself, in Bangalore, and have a long chat with him about his work and life.

I never did know why or how the closed down, but it did, and passed into history…the Wiki says it closed down in 1993….the Wiki says it started in 1880, so that’s more than a century of life!

My life was always full of excellent reading material, and I must say, the “Weekly” supplied a lot of it! Thank you, Viju, for making me look back….v

KTB singing “Let It Go”

May 12, 2014

AM has shared this on FB, so you do need an FB account to see

KTB singing “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen

Here are the lyrics (I don’t know this song and googled them online)

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation,
and it looks like I’m the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in;
Heaven knows I’ve tried

Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
Well now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I’m free!

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back, the past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway!

Here’s the song from the movie:

For some reason, it’s amazing when you realize your child’s child can sing…!