Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sex, Morality and Censorship, an attempt at a review

This play was staged at Prithvi. My first attempt to watch it was scuttled as I had to catch up with a friend. The second attempt was rejected by the chowkidar who felt it disturbing to the sensibilities of other audience, if I royally entered the play just 10 minutes late. I then had to take the tickets for the next show after a 3.5 hours gap.

The one thing that attracted me to the play was that it had something to do with Vijay Tendulkar.

The play was supposedly commissioned for a madam in Delhi, who wanted people to be aware of difficulties faced by Sakharam Binder, a 1971 play by Tendulkar. This play could have been inspired by the movie Adaptation where the original play and it's struggles are intermingled freely.

So we had the story of the play's struggle and also glimpses from the play playing in a random order. Somebody also wanted to give a hat trip to Dylan, so the same was arranged, through a projector.

The setting is a conversation between two players, one a lavani dancer and the other a fat protagonist. There is a delhiwallah historian for good measure. So these three discuss everything under the Sun and after some time the original director of Sakharam Binder also joins in.

The scenes enacted of Binder were the most impressive, especially the portrayal of violence against women. The first lady Binder brings in was a pretty skinny lady. And she is repeated oppressed upon. I really freaked out when Binder kicks her repeatedly. Just imagine playing this part, waiting for a kick to land on your shoulders anytime soon, and then waiting.

The character I liked the most was the second woman Binder brings in. They rarely make those characters anymore in real life. She has this huge smudge of a bindi on her temple, is mostly chewing a paan, and her swagger is unapologetic and very far from a typical woman's. She also pulls her sari in and out with ease, and at a pace which only comes by practice.

I guess the cultural elites should watch this play, for the culture shock that's in store for them.

I kind of liked lavani, the Maharastrian dance, I don't know why is it not more common elsewhere in other cultural programs in colleges or fest etc.This was the first time I saw a lavani.

The price of the ticket at 200 bucks was more than what I am used to in Rangashankara. But from Bombay's standards it appears ok, even slightly benevolent on poor souls like me. Shiv Sena, among other jokes had a proposal to reduce theater rates across Maharastra( which sadly was rejected). I whole heartedly support them in this quest. Bring on the orange flag.

Things I picked up

  • There is a censor board for even the plays. It was initially called the Tamasha board, but some snob somewhere had a problem with that word, so the name has evolved.
  • There is some act, initially designed by Britishers which still is applicable to screening of the plays.
  • The Britishers banned some historical play, full of metaphors, I have forgotten the historical characters, but one of them represented Tilak, the other Gokhale etc.
  • Some plays have not been given censor certificate and have been screened as private screenings, some other as annual subscription gifts etc.

The play was impactful, especially when the shiv sena dude( this is not an oxymoron) breaks a pot, on stage and Binder abuses his women.
I have realised that, that art is usually is valued, which represents the society as it is and not the SRK, or Javed Akhtar's son's movies which merely cater to aspirations or pipe dreams which we all have.

I am done.Thanks.

One last bit, if someone finds the script please send it to me. Would love to read it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Missing Mistry

I am told, it was around 1975- 77 period, when Indira Gandhi had imposed her emergency. The constitution of India does entitle the government to impose one, only in special circumstances like a threat of war from some other country.

The stories have remained etched in the minds of people. The empty editorial pages in express, the mass imprisonment of political leaders, etc. When once I asked my mother, why is it that , though all my uncles have more than two kids, one particular uncle does not, my dad replied, it was the time of the emergency, and Mr. Sanjay Gandhi was having a field day.

The consequence was a system where the owner tells other, I know better than you and since I have power you better listen to me. Damodaran in one of his webinars on Corporate finance is critical of these systems, he much rather prefers self correcting systems, where even though I might not have best people running the show, but responsive people who can own up their mistakes and correct them soon enough. Something, which works in the stock markets, over a period of time.

The consequences of emergency were many, but one that remained was the disillusion it left behind in people's mind. In this state, I guess Rohinton Mistry moved lock stock and barrel to Canada. For good.

The one thing, I would have loved to do is discuss with him, how did he feel when he was writing the sequence when Manek steps on the railway tracks, with Avinash's chessboard with him. Did he cry, when he was writing it ?

Had Mistry stayed back, to become some professor of English in Mumbai or any other place in India, I might have have gone up to him and attempted to draw him out. But, he left. For his own good.

It's been more than 30 years since that incident, and life has come one full circle for Mumbai. I don't know how many we might loose this time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Delhi, An understudy

When travelling in the metro, one looks out of the windows, only to see darkness outside. In Mumbai, it is different, there is always a scene playing at the window.

The doors close. That is awesome. It is centrally air conditioned, so no one haggles to get the window seat, in the direction of motion of the train like in Mumbai. The best part there are no window seats at all.

The security is on par with airports, with luggage scanners and X ray machines. The ticketing is different with coin like coupons, eliminating the need for a ticket collector. But what if I drop my coupon somewhere in middle, a highly likely event from my perspective.

The beauty of doing a thing 100 years too late is that one knows all the problems of Mumbai locals, and then can easily rectify them in the new system. Not that the same cannot be done in Mumbai, but for that one would require a person who takes a completely different approach to things, and also who does not belong to the system. Like Mr. Sreedharan.

New Delhi station was a disappointment. The traffic, the honking, the hand rickshaw, the auto rickshaw.the taxi,the Marathon, the traffic jam just outside the station.

Somehow I did not want to take the auto. I get a trifle uncomfortable to talk with the aggressive delhiwallah. Though I skipped the auto, I did get a measure of that in a Sony world shop. The salesmen, of all people were pretty rude. Guess, our dressing was too simple, from their perspective.

Another strange feature was the practice of tying up ropes against parked cars, possibly as a deterrent against car thieves. That was funny.

Finally the road rage was inexplicable, the constant accelerating and braking was too much for my tastes. It was as if all the cars were driving blindly, with half a hope of returning home safely.

The roads were wide enough though. I did enjoy the metro, and have always wondered as to why did they not change the local trains in Mumbai when they were changing from DC traction t AC traction and overhauling the entire set up. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I dug up a diamond

But As Ray estimated these two characters, he later explained to me that Josef, the consciously virtuous man, was a relatively static personality while Narsingh, being at the bottom a good man, had a greater capacity for growth and undergoes a marked degree of change.

Marie Steton ( On Abhijan by Ray)

...if you ever feel that security is more important than love, or love might grow out of security, let me know.

Bannerji to Monisha in Kanchenjunga