Thursday, January 29, 2009

PLAY It Again: “Anjor-Kaaya” … A Must-Watch!

 

"I work full time. So, I have to let go of my innermost feelings and desires… Oh! How often have I heard that? Whilst we all are in a rat race, bucked up to make a nippy buck, there are some who listen to their inner calling and pursue it. They fight to gain sight and take on the flight of fantasy to reality with all their might. You don't often meet people who have endowed such spectacular ability, do we?

I did. And I'm glad.Let me first share my preconceived notions about the play.  "Anjor-Kaaya".

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The title sounded too outlandish, thought it would be one of the arty kinds, with no thump of fervor. Even the publicity design of the clay model, was not so very happening. Secondly I thought,. What will a bunch of intellectual microbiologists and doctors achieve anyways. Those hefty books might have a very cerebral effect on them and they would try to rationalize every frame taking it too far from popular entertainment. Still, I made up my mind to go to the play my friends Haider's insistence was just pretence, actually, I wanted to meet my kind of people. I have always been where my heart is just like the cast and crew, who muddled their way through various paths and reached where they wanted to: Theatre.

I entered Rangsharada to pick my tickets. With the ticket there was an envelope that read "Come, Make A Wish" I opened the envelope to find a rupee coin. The worth of the coin was not known to me until the end of the play.

I entered the theatre: a little empty, a little filled. I sat on the historic hall. The curtains were drawn and heard was the voice over in chaste yet chatty Hindi. The voice over wasn't overboard with urduisms, was lucid and smooth. This was a play about a musical fountain, a wish granting musical fountain: Anjor Kaaya. That would come to life when a coin is tossed. Let me take you through the 5 stories that were knitted together with the innermost wants of the heart. "The voice of the void is too loud for the ones who can hear." Naught for the dumb hearted, this play is! Let me take you through this journey and get you acquitted with

A Face For A Piece Of Art

There was this pragmatist character of an artist who addressed the big question, "We accuse the creator often for his miscalculated creations, why not look within to right the wrongs". Don't we look for problems of origin and give faces and names for everything pretty and gross. Are we making a mistake wasting time, finding meanings of things when we could just enjoy flowing? When cant we just love and spread like liquid, with no form but taking up the shape of whatsoever it fills. The character was well edged. The performance ranged from theatrical to real. Somewhere it missed the line and lost the blend. Kaushik the guy who played the character of the artist looked like NO amateur, and his performance was so up to the mark. But maybe we needed to see that soft, subtle innocence on the stage in the beginning while transiting from being world-anguished to world-wise! Hmmm.

Darkness is beautiful, just look at it from the eyes of the one who has seen no light!

There was this girl who wanted to see. She pops a coin on the magical fountain and the wish is granted. The farsightedness of the sightless was brought to the fore. And it was done so beautifully. The girl who played the character made me wish to love. She made me feel for her as not crippled but as one with strong wishes. The girl was such a gifted actor. So effortless, So easy. She felt the air, but wanted to see it. (She is in love with Aakash or the Sky). When she is blessed with light, she misses the darkness who has been her friend for long. She loves her lover boy, but she understands that sky and air have no look or form, and bubbles burst when touched upon. Isn't it true. We all go in search of pain that has been with us. Darkness is universal. Light needs a source. Switch off the source, and there it is... darkness again.

Kaalu the character depicting darkness was brought in with a great earthy dance ballet that didn't make the viewer disassociate from the reality and get very arty. I resist myself from using superlatives. But I have to say, Zaheer who played Kaalu was too good man. And the girl Juhi, who played the blind girl was suave virgin beauty and brought in a rare innocence that makes you respect her and not feel pity. Every scene, every dialogue was so from the heart. I wasn't much impressed by the one who played aakash in his teensy-weensy role. Guess he needs to be pampered and told that length doesn't matter. (I mean the duration of stage time! Just to clarify. LOL)

Blame Me? Yes, I accept, it was me who looked for color. Now, would you help me wipe the stains?

This story was based on today, yesterday and tomorrow. Child sex abuse stands the test of time and continues to haunt our society. A young girl who sells flowers in full bloom. Nature rips her off her innocence, just as she did separate the flower from the plant. She looks for a red umbrella, and the readiness to accept makes her dread the colour red forever. She is raped. There is this reporter who makes a story out of her, but eventually ends up being a friend of hers. A coin is tossed and Anjor Kaaya guide the reporter to put in print the story of this helpless victim. It is again shown with a fantastic display of dance and drama. And both high voltage. A wish is made to bring back her childhood. And it is brought back.

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The actress who played the reporter was a misfit. May be the character of Vidya was so strong that she got lost. Vidya, I care not what her real name is. I loved her character. She touches you and pinches your innermost emotions. As a survivor of abuse myself, I could relate to it. I was raped again while watching Vidya. And I recovered. By speaking to the media like vidya did and being a torch in darkness. It made me feel sad, it made me cry, it made me shy, it made me fail in my attempt to hold the tears on my eyes, it flowed, it flowed, it flowed. How I wish I could have someone wish for me to get my childhood back. How I wish I could get back to past and undo what has been done… and engineer it my way. I love you Vidya. Immensely. No wonder you are a student of Wilson. That college is magical.

In the pic, Look into the eyes of the girl who hides, you would find bliss. Pure bliss.

Bring Back the Dead?

This track was nice a thought. But was too far from real. It was the story of the pang of a man to meet his dead wife. Anjor-Kaaya grant the wish.

I don't know why. I was unimpressed by the performances,. The girl who played the wife, priyanka, looked more a dancer than an actor. I am sure she could do better. And the old man character played by ashutosh was a little too overboard and unbelievable. May be it was visible that the person who was playing the character was young, so it was unreal. I feel the script and dialogues also faltered a little.

Do The Due! Let Each Man Exercise The Art He Knows!

A young dude turning vegetable… and an governess turning mother. What a character! An ambitious mother, who looks beyond her son. an ambitious son who seeks a mother and finds her in dance. He shakes a leg, and nature shakes him off. He meets with an accident and is rendered immobile. a devoted hyderabadi aaya, a Moslem parents this hindu boy, shrugging her personal woes aside, she devotes herself at the service of Harsh.She believes that the vegetable could think. She believes he would dance again to the rhythm of life and will overtake destiny. And he does. Yes, he does.

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Khaala or Ameena Bi… the aaya stole my heart. She was vivacious and on-key. So attuned with the character she was, that the whole ambiance seemed real in her presence. She looked uneducated and unadulterated. Just bang on. The same virgin swan who played the visually challenged part, now metamorphosed into middle aged vernac, a woman- brash with words, innocent at heart.  I for once forgot that I was at a play. especiially a scene where she digs out a coin from her blouse, it is surely not what she must be doing everyday, but she did that with so much dignity and ease. Marvelous! Full marks to the director for the sequence where he exhibits the mind of the crippled that is unclipped. A hitch though, Khala was so perfect with her act that Zaheer needs to work harder to create the perfect balance. The one who played mom was again well fit. But it wasnt a character well defined.

Enriching Allied Paraphernalia…

The play had some small characters that were thrown in to make longstanding assertions. They added the much needed rhythm to the scheme.

The dancers: How could one miss them. They form the vertebrae of the play. Remove them and then the play is spineless.

The Man of Scales: Ramavtar(haider) weighs the weight of the umberella against the weight of innocence of the girl vidya, who was sexually abused. And the scale goes lopsided.  It was a scene of high momentum. A moment of inertia. A moment that makes you listen to the din of the quiet. There was pitch silence at the auditorium then, which makes you feel the power of silence. Indeed,  Silence is the loudest cry. The otehr role played by haider, this character of a hex a little over the top and forgetful.

The Make Up: WOW! perfect. better than perfect.

Costumes: Great! costumes, just i hope Purush Mandals dont storm the hall, objecting to the display of male anatomy. The male dancers danced very well. But how could one ignore something that shown so prominently. (I wonder when women discuss tampons and bras and padding and  panties, why cant guys discuss adjustments and positioning. We guys just don't. I have spoken about this, many would even pass by  laughing or be too shy to acknowledge.)

Music & Lyrics: Understandable, relatable, palatable… I loved teh lyrics, at places it was very unpredictable… which made it even more beautiful.

Dialogues: who wrote teh dialogues? S/he should be a stalwart in the feild. “Kaun hai yeh shabdon ka jaadoogar… Usse Pesh Kiya jaaaye!”

Sets and lights:  An eye for detail they had, and they executed.

Choreography: Zaheer, Salaam! you are an excellent choreographer.

Finally The Real Fabled Stars!

“Kaaya Anjor!”

Id call it kaaya Anjor… the stage belonged to Kaaya. She was flawless and seemed like a real statue. Beautiful waistline, great voice, unparallel poise. She was every man and lesbians desire. She oozed sensuality, she is one statue you would want to keep for yourself. She was immobile for a good 10 minutes. I thought she was a statue. A real statue. I wonder how she did that. And when she emerged. She stole my heart.

 

Anjor, was good too. When Kaaya sat immobile like a statue, i spotted Anjor moving. Anjor was good too. But he was lost somewhere in between the stage and real. Some moments were theatrical, some moments he was very much like a comman man. His character exhibited buoyancy… but he floated heavenly just momentarily… he lashed in and out of the seas of myth and naive realism. Little sexed up, he needs to be. A pill of viagra may just do the magic.


I am not much of a theater aficionado. But my heart beats for authentic theatre. I have my performing roots in IPTA and Khalsa College you see, the latter is the place where I have won copious awards and have the distinction of being a regular compeer and actor for all their events and plays.

And aao saathi sapna dekhein was their inspiration they say. I didn't like aao saathi sapna dekhein as much as I liked Anjor Saaya. Do I need to say more?

You must experience this play for the energy it transmits. You will  feel positive. You will feel light. You will feel young. You will understand the big fact that Rumi quotes “The act of knowing is knowing what to ignore.” They are not afraid to fail… and that's the essence and the point of effervescence of their creative enthusiasm. They seek no new landscapes but throttle you through a new pair of eyes.

Now, coming back to where I started. remember I told you that with the tickets.. there was this envelope which had a coin inside, and read "Come, Make A Wish"... I did make a wish that people like zaheer and khaala and haider and vidya and kaaya and arfie... continue to wish and bring their wishes to fruitful realisation. I love theatre even more.

(I did something with the coins. What I did, id rather keep it a secret and wait for the receipients of the coin to comment)

You could book a seat for yourself to encourage and meet this enigmatic group. I bet you will fall in love with some of them. remember to meet them backstage. They would hug you and you will understand the vizor of their genuineness  then.

They are performing at Sophie Auditorium on 31 January ‘09 and on 01 February ‘09 at  ISKON. Visit them at www.PrarambhTheatre.com You could pick your ticks from rhythm house or reach the venue (reach early to avoid disappointment) or call Jay on +91 98207 82061. Alternatively you could also book through the below mentioned link.  

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

THE TAIL THAT TAMES

 

26/11 a date edged out in my memory, so strongly that I fail to erase it and move on. No, I wasn't there at the terror scene, I wasn't affected directly.  I, in fact belonged to the group of people who proactively responded to help through a medium I very strongly understood and related to- Blogs.  I had given out my mobile number on the blog Mumbai Terror Helpline and within 45 minutes my phone started ringing and it didn't stop for the next 2 days. Worried relatives and friends of those trapped called me, I became a virtual helpline for those who had a ray of hope and for those who knew that there was no hope but still wanted a ear. I called up hospitals and the hotel help lines to give the worried relatives up-to-date information. It wasn't easy. When you go past so much pain, some of it rubs into you too. I was dejected, I wished to scream and cry. But then, when I had a tear drop stuck to my iris, I saw a flash of flickering light on my phone. It was another call from another being in the brink of hopelessness.

There was growing rage within me, and I just wanted to explode. I wanted someone to hear, I wanted to cry aloud and give a vent to my growing frustrations. Where no human could tame my wild emotions that were raging a war and going awry, there were two balls of fur that did the magic.

I knew of Animal Angels, but when I received a comment on by blog about them offering their services, the animal lover in me smiled. It was for my selfish interest, for I knew that I needed to experience the benefits of this kind of therapy myself. I formed a group called "Group Altruism Proactive" GAP, and we organized the first therapy workshop with Animal Angels at National College, Bandra, Mumbai.   I have my dog at home who listens to me and responds and licks me. Extremely egoistic and proud about my canine girl Lisa, I refused to believe that there could be anyone more empathetic and loving than her.

At national college, the stars of the day…  came a vehicle with a handsome stud Saint Bernard "Onit" and an absolutely sexy lab retriever "Goldie". They were huge and their hearts were huger. They came in the central lawn area and spent time with people around. Their sizes, I thought would scare children. But, one look at Onit and Goldie's eyes and anyone could fall in love. Fear went off. And love prevailed. The kids  hugged Onit and Goldie, they lied down the ground using Onit's or Goldie's torso as a pillow. There were some who simply hugged them and said nothing. It was a sight to see. I was overwhelmed. I moved towards Onit and moved my hands over his fur. Onit gave me a lick. And I thought he understood what my deepest feelings were. He then looked at me with a twinkle in his saintly eyes. I instantly broke down. Tears started running down my cheeks and I cleverly camouflaged them with a smile. I then moved to Goldie and the same sequence of events of high voltage drama within repeated itself.

These dogs are blessed. They are more humane than humans. They can feel. They can sense and they can heal your wounds and pain. I  know what was special in them, but had not "one" thing that I could point out. They were special. I carried their scents from National College to home. And there was a a smile on my face.  As I reached home, I faced another horror. My Labrador Spitz girl Lisa refused to speak to  me for she could smell Onit and Goldie on me. How different this girl of mine was… selfish, possessive and sly,  but mine. After a few treats she gave up my anger and loved me completely and even more than before, she had to, she knew now she had tough competition, with Goldie and Onit were vying for my attention.

 

(This is a piece that I wrote for Animal Angels. )

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why Me???

I ask myself a zillion times. Why should I be empathetic towards people? why should my eyes turn moist when I see pain? why can't I be as cold blooded as many I see? Isn't that easier that way?

In a pensive mood, today, I ruminate over the benefits of being numb. If you are numb, you don't need to worry about the person who is standing next to you in the ticket line. If you are numb, you don't need to give the watchman who salutes you a smile. If you are numb don't need to bother saying things like thank you and other pleasantries. If you are numb you could turn a blind eye to the butchery, enjoy your sheekh kebab and soothe yourself, "if not me someone else would have". If you are numb you needn't cry every night thinking of the scenes of the people in Taj who were relieved by death after experiencing the horror of terrorism. If you are numb, you would be comfortably numb. If you are numb, you could forget and walk past the gateway of India and forget the existence of Taj. If you are numb you could travel by enjoy the sight of the queen's necklace, and just remember the queen's necklace. If you are numb you could enjoy free rides in the train and tip off the ticket collector. If you are numb you could so easily relieve your frustration by mouthing a few anti Pakistan slogans. I am not the "you" I am talking about. I am me. A cursed wretched soul. Cursed to be empathetic Cursed because I can't sleep in the night. Cursed because I love my city. Cursed because I every night im visited by a nightmare of me being at Taj and escaping the trauma. I am cursed because there is fire in my belly to do something for my city and her people, and whatever efforts I take to extinguish this fire, it aint enough. It just aint enough.

I feel a lot of things, and many of what I feel could be termed as unusual or anti social. If I feel like one of the hostages, I also try to visualize what these terrorists; kids of 21-22 years must have gone through. I think of Kasab, who is the lone alive terrorist. How good a movie story this makes. Dad poor, Mom poor, Brother Laborer, son fights with father for a new dress on the auspicious occasion of ID. Son flees home, Son eventually lands up in al-Qaida camps when he is just an adult. He is brainwashed and told to slaughter a goat, a dog, and then a human and then a child to kill every little empathy he had. He is given ample food. His care takers become his messiah. He listens to their commands, gets ready to die for them. Is this possible only in Pakistan, isn't the situations that this child went through be in India too. Then, why blame a country. They were us at one time, weren't they? And secondly, do we have less corrupt people here in our country? There are civilians on that side too. Civilians like you and me who have nothing to do with the government.

My heart bleeds for Kasab, the same person who killed many innocents. I understand that I will be at the receiving end of a lot of wrath because of this. More so because Gandhi is History and history is cliché. I feel hatred is no solution. I wish Kasab is killed or he is cured. And that this is done soon.

Oh! Why do I think so much? Why cant I shut up, go watch a comic flick and enjoy? When the whole Mumbai has revived and has put 26/11 in the past. Why do I live with it? Why me?


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