Archive for August, 2012

Djinns of Eidgah

Direction: Richard Twynam
Writer: Abhishek Majumdar
Cast: Adhir Bhat, Ali Fazal, Ankur Vikal, Divyang Thakkar, Faezeh Jalali, Karan Pandit, Meher Achari-Dar, Neil Bhoopalam, Rajit Kapur
Sound: Nadir Khan

There are times when giving a standing ovation seems to be the least you can do to express what you feel towards a play. Djinns of Eidgah was one such experience. Djinns of Eidgah tugs at your heart strings and you witness firsthand the brutality and futility of violence in your very own backyard called ‘Kashmir’.

Being a novice to theatre, Djinns of Eidgah appealed to the viewer in me who cared of a good narrative, knowing precious little about the art of theatre.

The plot revolves around individuals who are each fighting an inner demon, Djinn being a metaphor for all that they fear. Set in Kashmir the play captures the psyche of individuals raised in an atmosphere of dread.

There is Dr Baig, a man who reveres peace but whose only son chooses to be a militant. There is Bilal, a 20-year old who wants to do well in his football trials so that he can escape the mayhem that living in Kashmir entails taking sister Ashrafi along with him. Ashrafi who though a 14-year old finds her mind acting as a 9 year old, shocked by the incident of her father dying in her lap. She talks to her doll, her confidante, the one person who will not let her down.

Then there is the outsider’s perspective. Two Indian army soldiers, one who acts as the voice of reason and another whose fear of the mob propels him to do despicable things to those he has been sent to ‘protect’. The play does not paint a character into black and white, something that no human being is. Each character is flawed in his or her own way.

Though dealing with an intense subject, the interactions between the characters is full of energy supported by an excellent cast. The scenes between Bilal and his sister Ashrafi, be it him telling her a story or trying to reason with her, make you fervently wish that they have their happy ending.

Kashmir has become synonymous with the sound of bullets and imbibing that experience in a play is a challenge that the sound engineer Nadir Khan takes on head on and succeeds brilliantly. Several times during the play you would find your self jumping out of the seat and getting an eerie sense of being in the middle of all the action.

As one watches the play one wonders how we can talk about the democratic ideals in one part of the country while it remains unattainable to a citizen in another part. Is violence the only solution to contain an agitation borne out of the deepest of misery?

Giving standing ovation seemed to be a simpler solution than seeking answers to these complex questions.


Death on Twitter

Vilasrao Deshmukh is dead.

Oh wait! He is critical.

On second thoughts, he is stable.

This is what happened throughout the day today. For those unaware, Vilasrao Deshmukh is an Indian politician who has been the two time chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is a part. As I write this post, he is being treated at a hospital in Chennai and is reported to be under observation but in stable condition.

On the internet however he has already been pronounced dead several times over with a small tweet enough to snowball into frenzy.

With great power comes great responsibility. This is the oft repeated corny line from the comic book Spiderman. Today it was not the media to be blamed. To be fair to them they held on to their horses. Today individuals like me and you were to be blamed.

For the smallest of reasons we take to twitter or facebook, forgetting that posting something on these sites is akin to shouting from our rooftops in physical terms.

Yes internet is liberating but where do we draw the line? Yes it is informative but how do we sift through the junk to find what really is of some consequence to us?

All I know is being one of the people to jump the gun I am red faced as I write this. Time for some social networking etiquette anyone?

Lush green trees, soft blowing breeze and melodious music in the air…

As one walks inside the Kalashetra Foundation in Thiruvanmiyur at Chennai, the beauty of it all sinks in. This is the location of Svanubhava 2012, a 3 day event that began on August 1st and is slated to go on till the 3rd of August.

Svanubhava is meant to be a celebration where students of art are exposed to various other art forms. However do not make the mistake of thinking that if you are not an artist then you will find yourself out of place here. If you like music and dance then this is the place to be.

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The location where the stage is set has thatched roofs with seating made out of cane. As one watches the event in this idyllic setting one finds the mood uplifted. There could not have been a more apt location to hold Svanubhava and enjoy the renderings of accomplished musicians and dance artists.

When I attended Svanubhava this morning it felt like a Mecca of art. One could gauge from the turnout that this is the city where people love music and different cultural events find ample patronage. The morning session started with Shri Ulhas Kashalkar’s soulful rendering of different ragas. I found myself enthralled by the music.

The crowd was an amalgamation of individuals from all age groups. The audience had everyone from school students to the elderly and were eager participants in the discussion that followed. Rather than going into the technical aspects of it all I will let you discover and enjoy the event for yourself.

What I can say for sure is that if you love art then this is the place to be. So do attend.

Screwed Nuts N Bolts

"An idle engineer's mind leads to a screwed up blog."- Anonymous