Wednesday, December 29, 2010

page turning time?

Why do I want this move?
Like everyone else wants to assume,
Is it just me escaping?
Then, why does it feel so right?
When did escaping feel so right?
Never, no?

I know I need it.
I love what I have,
But I’m afraid what I have,
As always,
Loves me not...
Not in the way I want it to,
At least!

Cravings for a new beginning,
Just when the world is celebrating ends,
Is something that should be allowed?
For someone like me, for sure...
Else, hope might just dry out.
I’m doing the right thing.
I think so. ... ? ... !

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Happy Birthday Chandrudu :)

A picture that paints a myriad thousand colours...
All thanks to your incomparable incomprehensible self!
And today as you turn as old as me, even older?
You are in deed and mind, much older! Somebody, HELP!

I like the way you see positives everywhere...
When my world is all black, bleak and grey!
And even though I hate them in-betweens...
With you, somehow, surprisingly, I’m fine and OK!

What celestial juncture was it, when you were born?
Which stars contributed to your sweetness praline?
For as you grow, stronger, sharper and wiser...
You seemed to be maturing like a bottle of good wine.

I wonder why we never got to know each other...
When we were in college and could have defined...
For you could be my brother from another mother...
Or you the hope I've always looked for; much refined.

Happy Birthday Chandrudu :)

Pic © Aishwarya Kannan, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I AM ‘QUEER’. GET USED TO ME.

You’re not my type.
I don’t think I want this now.
You’re too good for me.
I think we want different things in life.

Why do you have your hair long?
Do you want to be a woman?
Why don’t you just lose some weight?
How can he dress like that?

Nobody will like you if you look like this!
Get those teeth fixed!
You’re too smart!
I like MEN!

You really think you’re the cat’s whiskers, no?
I’m OK with being friends; just the love part’s kinda scary, cool?
Why can’t you love me as a straight man?
Why can’t you change?

The problem is men are intimidated by you.
That’s how gay men are.
Stop being self piteous.
I am not gay.

AND YET HERE I AM.
EIGHT YEARS LATER.
STILL HOPING.
I MAY NOT HAVE MUCH TO CELEBRATE.
BUT I DO HAVE ME!
AND THAT IS A FESTIVAL.
ONE THAT I HOPE NEVER ENDS.

I AM HERE. I AM ‘QUEER’. GET USED TO ME.

Pics © Saina Jayapal, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

WHATTE JOY INDEED!

Now the original of this article appeared today, the 14th of November, 2010 in Bangalore Mirror, but here’s the original unedited version :P

You’ve seen him in several films, you’ve seen him in plays and I can bet you’ve seen him in a few ads too... But Joy Sengupta, is still quite the man of surprises when it comes to first meetings.
What had we heard about him, before we had our first conversation?
Well, firstly that, ‘he was cute enough to eat,’ secondly that, ‘he was a pleasure to watch on stage,’ and thirdly that, ‘he had a smile and a voice that could kill’.
Our verdict? Well, completely right on all three counts!
Joy Sengupta is a pleasure to meet, to say the least and as we caught up with him over the week, while his play ‘Dinner with Friends’ premiered in town, we found, that there was so much more to this multifaceted actor.

L Romal M Singh: You’re a fabulous actor, we needn’t tell you that... But where did the love for acting start?

Joy Sengupta: Thank you, first of all, and to answer that question, well... Firstly you’ll have to believe that I was an introvert! I really was! (smiles) In school, which was both in Nepal and Delhi, I was a really shy and timid boy. As I grew up, my love for acting however, got me into a few plays and I realised I was more comfortable playing someone else. You could call it some sort of escapism if you’d like, but I was always encouraged by my teachers and directors, who always reminded me that I had a knack for stage. That’s where it all began.

LRMS: So was it all about the acting and praises?

JS: Not really! When I was in the 6th Standard, I was in Nepal, thanks to my dad’s career as a Government employee. The new experience however gave me new opportunities and soon I directed my first play! I know that sounds ridiculous, but here’s what happened. The school had a rule that only the students from the 11th and 12th could take part and direct these plays. But I was convinced that I could do it too. So I directed a simple short play with a few friends and then showed it to the teachers in-charge. They were impressed and the rest is well... my own wonderful history.

JS: Of course not. In college, which was in Delhi, I was a part of a group that revived the dying college drama society. We had a really enthusiastic cultural head too, and she even organised a training workshop with a NSD product — Surendra Sharma. If it weren’t for him, we’d never have taken theatre seriously. He made us realise that theatre could be a way of life.

LRMS: So was college where you made your first entry into professional theatre?

JS: Not really. College was over in a few years and then I was caught up with deciding what my future would hold. I gave a thought to social service and to advertising and even mass communication. I even did a few of these courses to buy time. By then however, the friends from the drama society in college and me had started a proper theatre group called Act 1. It still exists today and that is so encouraging. I soon found my peace however, in a group called Jananatyamanch that specialised in cultural activism. I also began teaching Theatre-in-Education for a school called Blue Bell and that was an experience in itself. But I was still waiting for my true calling and that came when NSD icon Ebrahim Alkazi returned to India and founded the Living Theatre Academy. I joined without hesitating and I’m extremely glad I did. I received my first offer to work in a play, a few years later, when in 1995 as a 24 year old; I was cast in Lilette Dubey’s production of Mahesh Dattani’s ‘Dance like a Man’.

LRMS: So there’s been no turning back since, we assume?

JS: Not really, I did a few more plays and then even tried my hand at anchoring TV shows, which wasn’t something I enjoyed too much, but paid my bills. My real break however came when I moved to Mumbai in 1997 thanks to a TV show I was hosting then, and was offered a role in a play called ‘If Wishes were Horses’ with Kitu Gidwani. I was soon offered my first film role in Govind Nihalani’s ‘Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa’ and then there was no looking back.

LRMS: So was it smooth sailing thereafter?

JS: It would be wrong to say, I didn’t get offers coming my way. I wasn’t struggling for sure and by 2001 I gave up on TV altogether. I still did a few ads and a few more films and plays and strangely enough, the Bengali film industry noticed me. I then did some really interesting Bengali films including Chaturanga that released in 2008 and is still a favourite at International film festivals.

LRMS: We’re not surprised quite frankly, but moving on to more controversial topics, per se, you’re one of India’s first actors to have played an openly gay role in 2007’s ‘68 pages’, how was the experience and weren’t you afraid of being stereotyped?

JS: This wasn’t the first gay role I’d played. I had already worked in Lilette Dubey’s production of Mahesh Dattani’s ‘On a Muggy Night in Mumbai’, where I played a man questioning his sexual identity. I won’t call the role in this film challenging, per se, just because it was of a different sexuality, what however made me enjoy and take the role on as a challenge, was the non-stereotypical portrayal of a gay man and his partner. I had to look around me and see how real gay men behaved. About stereotyping however, the only stereotype I’m worried about right now is of films portraying me as the ‘intellectual city dweller’.

LRMS: So you don’t like being portrayed as ‘the intellectual city dweller’?

JS: No! Which actor would? Theatre gives me more options to play around when it comes to characterization; the same can’t be said of cinema. I would really like to play a raw, earthy character in some film soon. But that doesn’t seem to be on the cards for me right now.

LRMS: Now that we’ve almost come full circle, what is that one role that you’ve always wanted to play?

JS: Hamlet! Though I guess I’m too old for that role right now.

LRMS: Finally, like always, what projects can we look forward to you in?

JS: Well, ‘Anjaana Anjaani’ has me as a friend of Ranbir Kapoor, and is in theatres right now, but otherwise, there’s ‘A Prayer for Rain’ on the Bhopal Tragedy that should be out in theatres soon. ‘Dinner with Friends’ is still touring the country, and so might a few others that I’m a part off, so you might just see me again in Bangalore, pretty soon!

With that we exchange a few more pleasantries and we take our leave.

Joy Sengupta will remain to be one of the most interesting actors India has ever produced and we hope and pray that we’ll see him in more interesting and diverse roles in the future too. And about the cute part... Oh! Yes! He definitely is one helluva looker!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bharatanatyam, who's is it?

An article I wrote for the Bangalore Mirror, dated Saturday, 23rd October on the Arangetram of Tomoko Matsuda, a Japanese national, received an extremely vague response... I couldn't help but reply to it, and here is what the whole conversation came to be. I am still waiting for S N Balasubrahmanyam's reply :)

(Picture not of Tomoko Matsuda — Right)

THE ORIGINAL:

Bridging the barrier

Tomoko Matsuda, a native of Osaka in Japan, took to Bharatanatyam after she fell under the spell of the mudras of this ancient dance

L Romal M Singh
bmfeedback@indiatimes.com

Bharatanatyam maybe the classical dance form native to the state of Tamil Nadu, and it might also be one of the oldest classical dance forms on earth, but since time immemorial, the dance form has spoken out to millions of people around the world, making it their preferred medium of dance as communication.

One such recent convert is Japanese national Tomoko Matsuda, a native of Osaka in Japan. A student of Bhavani Ramnath, an exponent in the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam, Tomoko first witnessed a Bharatanatyam performance when she came to Bangalore, almost four years ago. Growing up in Osaka, she had never encountered Indian classical dance before and was immediately drawn in by the complexity, beauty and dexterity of the art.

“I work with deaf children and practice a lot of sign language, which helps me become a better translator for them. The mudra aspect of Bharatanatyam was what caught my attention first,” says Tomoko.

Tomoko, who dabbled in the arts even before her introduction to Bharatanatyam, has a keen sense for arts that are out of the ordinary. A few years ago, after her marriage to Yoji Matsuda, she shifted to the Shizuoka prefecture in Japan, where she began learning the folk arts of the Okinawa style.

When she came to India in 2006, a Japanese friend of hers was learning the classical dance form of Kathak, which intrigued her, but Tomoko, who soon watched a Bharatanatyam performance, immediately knew this was what she wanted to learn.

“The hardest part in terms of teaching was the language barrier,” says Bhavani Ramnath. “She wasn’t too fluent in English and had never been exposed to Indian art traditions. We had to understand each other, for this to work out. We almost created our own language together — a mix of short English phrases and a lot of signs. But she is a diligent and fast learner, which is why she was able to learn so much, so fast,” adds Bhavani Ramnath.

Tomoko says, “Krishna Nee Beganey Baaro, is a piece that makes me happy, and all my nervousness seems to diffuse when I think of performing that piece.”

Tomoko Matsuda will perform at ‘Yavanika’ on Nrupatunga Road at 6:15 pm on October 23.

XOX

THE RESPONSE ON BANGALORE MIRROR'S WEBSITE:

Bharatanatyam not native to TN

S N Balasubrahmanyam

The article Bridging the barrier (Oct 23, BM), claims Bharatanatyam is native to the state of Tamil Nadu. This claim is absolutely incorrect. Tamil Nadu preserved the pristine form of the ‘naatyam’ as described in Bharata’s Naatya Shastra. Look at any of the sculptural representations of naatya postures in temples anywhere in India and you will be convinced that the form was spread all over India. The other extant forms are regional variations created by local cultural changes e.g. the court form of Kathak from the Mughal era, the folk element in Kuchipudi, etc. Unremarkably, the Sanskrit technical terms (for the mudras, for the taalas, etc.), introduced by Bharata, are in use to this day in all dance forms recognised as “classical” today.

XOX

MY RESPONSE:

While you are right in claiming that the sculptures in temples all across the country possess a similar form of dance being depicted, you are wrong to assume it to all be Bharatanatyam.

The Bharatanatyam that we speak of today is only a more glorified version of Cathir (Sadir), the ancient temple dance form that was exclusively practiced in Dravidian (South Indian style) temples. Each area in India, since the ancient times, evolved their own forms of temple arts and Sadir is what was practiced and danced in Tamil temples, and may have even been practiced in areas that had more Tamil inclinations across the south — Chittoor, in AP, for example.

There is proof that these arts existed, thanks to the very sculptures you refer to and the fact that they have been recorded in epics like the Silapadikkaram and texts like the Tolkappiyam.

The dance was also known as Dasiaattam, at one point of time, as it was practiced by Devadasis in temples all across the south. More recent references to the dance were in the court chronicles of Thanjavoor, where even up until the Marathi King Saraboji’s time (1798–1824), the dance was still practiced, however in a new avatar, as Devadasis who performed for the king, came to be known as Rajanartakis.

The town of Thanjavoor has always held a high regard to dancers, because of the famous quartet of Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu, who made a rich contribution to music and dance forms and also completed the process of re-editing the Sadir performance’s present shape with its various forms like the Alaarippu, Jathi-Svaram, Varanam, Sadanam, Padam and Tillana.

The descendants of these four brothers formed the original stock of Nattuvanars or dance teachers of Sadir in Thanjavoor. Their descendants are the schools of Thanjavoor, Vazhuvoor and Pandanallur, that separated over time, with minute differences in style and choreography.

Now the Natya Shastra and its elements of dance have been used since time immemorial and you are right in assuming that ‘maybe’ this Natyam existed all across the country at one point of time. There are possibilities that it did, and that the fall of the Hindu kingdoms in the South marked the eventual decline of Natyam, as the Muslim invasion in the North completely could have wiped out Natyam in the north — but these are mere assumptions, with no proof in them, whatsoever.

Bharatanatyam evolved into its present form thanks to the efforts of E Krishna Iyer and dancers like Rukumini Devi Arundale.

Here is some information about the whole process of elevating Sadir into Bharatanatyam:

“Pioneers like Madam HP Blavatsky and Colonel HS Olcott, the founders of the Theosophical movement, had undertaken an extensive tour of South India and propagated the revival of devadasi institutions and the associated art of Sadir. They gained support from some sections of the native elite by their public denouncement of western Christian morality and materialism. In 1882, the Theosophical Society of India had set up its headquarters in Adyar, Chennai with the set goal of working towards the restoration of India's ancient glory in art, science, and philosophy.

The support later given to a revival of Sadir as Bharatanatyam by the Theosophical Society was largely due to the efforts of Rukumini Devi Arundale, an eminent theosophist, and E. Krishna Iyer.

The Theosophical Society Adyar provided the necessary funds and organization to back Arundale as the champion for India’s renaissance in the arts, especially Bharatanatyam. The revivalists tried to present the idealistic view of the institution of Devadasi. According to their view, it was the model of the ancient temple dancer as pure, sacred, and chaste women, as they were originally.

They stressed that the dance of Devadasi was a form of ‘natya yoga’ to enhance an individual's spiritual plane. The revivalists wanted to preserve the traditional form of Sadir dance by purifying it. As a consequence of purification, some modifications were introduced into the content of the dance, which was strongly criticized by dancer Balasaraswati and other prominent representatives of the traditional devadasi culture. The revivalists mostly belonged to Brahmin dominated Theosophical circles. Many Brahmin girls started to learn the dance from Devadasis.

In contrast to the abolitionist portrayal of Devadasis as prostitutes, the revivalists sketched them as nuns in order to defend and legitimize the institution. Still others claim that a devadasi was neither a prostitute nor a nun: ‘She was a professional artist, who did not suppress or deny her feminine skills, an obliquely if not purposely aligned with the tenets of Japanese Geisha culture. Devadasi women kept classical dance forms, like Bharatanatyam and Odissi, alive for centuries.’ ”

Now coming back you were wrong in assuming the temple sculptures across the country were the same. The sculptures in the Krishna-Godavari belt of present day Andhra Pradesh always depicted Kuchipudi, named after a town in the area that centres the dance, to this very date. The dance was always practiced by men, owing the the strong sense of Vaishnavism, that was the dominant religion in that area, where it was considered unchaste for a woman to dance. The dance funnily enough, was taught and propagated by Brahmins to be precise. So the roots are very different, even though Sadir and Kuchipudi might seem similar when looked at.

The sculptures seen in Orissa are of Odissi. Odissi was lost in between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and had to be re-learnt through sculptures. Thankfully the extensive sculptures across the state allowed for a full re-learning of the dance. Odissi and Bharatanatyam share nothing in common other than their roots in the Natya Shastra.

So, when there is proof that other parts of the country have their own forms of dance, all yes, based on the Natya Shastra, but extremely different otherwise, why is it wrong or incorrect to place Bharatanatyam in Tamilnadu, when what we dance today as the form, was after all a more chaste and ‘purified’ version of Sadir and Dasiaattam, almost completely exclusive to the state?

And if your worries come from the fact that there exists a Mysore School of Bharatanatyam, then even that can be explained to have come out of TN, as you will find chronicled here, http://www.narthaki.com/info/articles/art99.html .

Hoping this detailed explanation will help you understand why the dance form of Bharatanatyam has and will always be considered a dance form with its roots in TN, for if we all follow your theory of where the roots of dances are to be placed, then the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni, that is based on the Gandharva Veda [sometimes called Natya Veda] (an appendix to the Sama Veda), and was probably written somewhere in the Punjab area, between 200 BC and 200 AD, would signify that Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi were dances from Punjab (?).

Similarly Kutiyattam, the purest of the Natya Shastra traditions, to have lived on, untouched, and is the only surviving specimen of the ancient Sanskrit theatre, should also be placed there, even though its form and style are so vividly different from what one would assume the Natya Shastra to be?

The Natya Shastra was a guide, and artists took from it what they could, while they perfected their own individual arts. Present day Bharatanatyam is what ancient Tamils took from the Natya Shastra. They called it Sadir, but the world calls it Bharatanatyam, much thanks to people like Rukumini Devi Arundale, who again rejoiced in how it could mean Bharata Natyam as in the dance of Bharata Muni and also mean BhaRaTaNatyam meaning, the dance that is characterised by Bhaava (Expressions), Raaga (Music) and Taala (Rhythm).

Pic: Charles Ma, 'Shikharam' © Madhu Shwetha, 2009

Monday, November 01, 2010

rainbow butterfly.

A butterfly flew in through my window and placed itself, wings still fluttering, on my multi-coloured towel crushed into a mass of unshapeliness. The towel was always a sad rainbow, but here was its leprechaun. Happiness must be around the corner.

My towel has always felt colourless, even though it had all the colours of the rainbow, and on several occasions, it has given me much joy, by just its presence. But it was an unhappy towel. A very unhappy towel that listened to drawling music that came from the north of my country.

The butterfly flapped its wings, almost blinding me with the way the morning light reflected off its glazen wings. Pink. Purple. Peach. Pumpkin. Pea. Pee. Platinum. Poppy. —you name it; it had a million colours that each spoke a million words in a million tongues and confused me intriguingly.

In that cacophony however, there was beauty — a beauty that could only be felt — not seen or heard or touched, but felt. Who said colours have no sound? They must be ‘tone-deaf’!

The butterfly asked me if I knew my maker. I smiled, asleep, dreaming, smiling. Its voice was calming, broken into staccato by the frenzied fluttering. But the pleasing confusion only increased my restlessness.

I looked back into its gleaming eyes, refracting the dizzyingly bright morning light in a million rays that all caught my attention in a millisecond. I couldn’t grasp the beauty of it then. I was in REM.

My towel cringed, trying to shrug off all this uninvited happiness. It curled around, wrung itself, stretched and did everything that a magical towel could do. The butterfly just played hop-scotch. Jump. Flutter. Land. Jump. Flutter. Land.

I smiled. A tear rolled down from my third eye. I was still asleep.

The butterfly then uncurled its honey-sipper and I heard a loud flower-like voice that reminded me of melting ice and sweet lemonade. It sang in a language that sounded like small petite notes put together in a wonderful melody. I understood every word it said. I don’t remember a word.

I was now a big huge balloon. Flying through the sky, clouds tickling my bare feet. I wasn’t naked, I was unclothed. My unhappy towel was spread across my chest, the pretty diva butterfly, now even more glorious and glazen, still perched on my towel.

Suddenly, the butterfly took off. My eyes caught its deep all-knowing endless eyes as it flew away and I knew what it meant.

I took my towel off and threw it away.

My towel looked at me from its million eyes locked away in those tight weaves. I saw tears wring out from every strand, and I cried. This time, the tears rolled down my cheeks, down over my lips, down my throat and onto my chest.

My tears trailed down my body, unwilling to leave and then when they could hold on no longer, fell to the earth below me.

My towel darted forth, trying to catch the falling tear. The butterfly fluttered around it. Smiling.

My unhappy towel was too late.

The tears passed through a cloud and the cloud rumbled. It swallowed the tears. It turned black and angry pink. Grey and loud and terrifying!

It burst.

Cacophony. Lightning. Chaos. Madness. Order. Peace.

I knew what I had to do. I lunged for my unwilling towel and held it close, as close to my heart as I probably can. I slowly felt us both falling down.

The fall was sharp and yet soft. The sense of losing it all and yet being safe was exhilarating.

The butterfly floated down with us, whispering sweet nothings all the while, into my ears. I dreamed of conch shells, of whispers of lovers and of the sounds of love, when shared without lust.

And then I heard waves crashing.

I woke up and I looked around. There was my towel. Happy, smiling, and happily black and white. I looked at myself and I felt colour. I was filled with colour.

Pink. Purple. Peach. Pumpkin. Pea. Pee. Platinum. Poppy. —you name it; it had a million colours that each spoke a million words in a million tongues and confused me intriguingly. I was happy.

I looked at the strong sunshine pouring through the window and I saw it — my butterfly, far away, glorious, omnipresent, omnipotent, and all powerful.

It smiled at me and I smiled back and I knew I would never be alone.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

drooged!

Saw a few pictures of you.

Thought of you and personal images were retrieved.
Saw a kurta, I gave you with much love.
And curls gone, that I'd always dreamed of fondling.

Saw a pic of you embarrassed by the camera.
And suddenly remembered where knowing you began.
I don't think I shall ever randomly speak to a stranger,
On MG Road — not one so fetching, for sure.

Hope you are fine? and in good health.

In peace :)

him.

i lie beside him
looking into teary eyes
is there any hope left?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Haraaorey Loka Ruchi & Finding My Call :)

Girish Karnad’s voice echoes over the PA system. His pre-recorded message requesting the ever-accommodating audience to “please switch of your mobile phones,” is met for once by the chitter-chatter of a house-full show audience, that’s has surprisingly turned out for a play, not representing anything relatively mainstream Indian.

The last two days have been surprising to say the least — at least for someone like me, who has been attending every single performance at this year’s Ranga Shankara theatre festival!

XOX

The festival opened with Rama Bijoya, a treat to anyone who has never seen the quaint theatrical-dance form of Sattriya. This particular piece was performed by the Sattriya Monks of Uttar Kamalabari Sattra, in Majuli, Axom.

Now I am no master in the art myself, but I have seen Sattriya performances before this, and this wasn’t the best the art could offer to a new audience. The monks performed the life of Lord Rama, till his betrothal to Sita, which was interesting enough a theme, but it didn’t work for me…

Why it didn’t work for me on principal, is basically because the art has not developed at all. Being practiced by the monks in closed almost Nazi camp like Sattras, the art is still lost in an old world full of hierarchy, which is not necessarily charming.

Consider the fact that male artists still perform the female roles and that the male actors are not far from being actual castratos and you suddenly realize how sordid the art is.

The performance was average to say the least, it didn’t inspire me in parts nor did it evoke any exclamations of joy at discovering something astoundingly aesthete at any moment!

It warbled on, in the amusing Brajawali dialect of Assamese and while it was fun to watch how words were ‘o’d and ‘ou’d every now and then, such accentual differences couldn’t keep me or half the audience too interested for too long.

XOX

But the God’s of Theatre have a lot of mercy and the very next day, almost to make up for the downer on Day 1, we were brought two Kattaikkoottu performances.

Now what is Kattaikkoottu you must be wondering? Well, this old folk art form from the Northern Districts of Tamizhnaadu, is a performance based narrative art, that beautifully mixes, Koothu (street dancing), with folk music, a mask-drama-dance and several other such elements, creating a performance that is raw, sensual, fabulous and well-worth several views! To find out more, just visit this link: http://www.kattaikkuttu.org/

The Tamil Nadu Kattaikkuttu Kalai Valarchi Munnetra Sangam from Kanchipuram, more simply known as the Sangam, was invited to perform two pieces from their repertoire on Day 2 of the festival. The first performance was a from the normal ‘Southern Style’ cannon — Subhadhira Kalyaanam and this piece was extremely exciting as it featured the All Girls Kattaikkuttu Company, which is probably the ONLY all-female Kattaikkoottu company in the whole wide world! The Sangam is single handedly responsible for the introduction of this art to women. And even till today, women have to overcome quite a few obstacles posed by family and society to learn this art.

The performance was amazing and so full of energy and comedic timing, while the young artistes, who performed the role of Arjunan and Kannan (Krishna), were astoundingly good too!

I was more than ready for the next performance, later that very evening and my hopes were kept up with, thankfully.

The Kattaikkuttu Young Professionals troupe set the stage on fire with the evening performance, when they performed an abridged version of their repertory regular Pakatai Tukil, this time however called Diraupathi Tukil, a shortened version.

My favourite character from the previous performance, the young energetic pretty looking girl who played Arjunan, played one of the several Draupadi’s in this energy-ravishing performance.

What however added to the overall exuberance and energy was the last extended, exclusively Tamizh addition to Draupadi’s Vastraharan — the last dice game! I was as elated and impressed by this local twist, and believe me; I really wish this was added to all versions of the Mahabharata.

Impressed enough, I looked forward to every other performance in the festival, but was extremely disappointed for the next few days.

XOX

The next Wednesday, I was dragged, and I actually mean dragged to watch Dastangoi — new tales from Tilism-e-Hoshruba, a Hindustani performance that turned out to be in too chaste Urdu for anyone like me to follow or appreciate.

Firstly, I do not like narrative forms that involve one performer telling me a story, no matter how good the performance is! Secondly, I need to at least grasp the gist of what is being said on stage to understand and appreciate any art — however simple or rustic!

Now in this case, we were given print-outs with a general explanation of what this Dastangoi was all about, but even after almost memorizing it, the strangeness of the language and sheer bias against the style of art, left me bewildered first, and then terribly bored later.

Bewildered, why you ask? Well, I had no clue Bangalore had such a well-learned Urdu audience. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it but me. Co-viewer Faiqueee, however, also enjoyed the show, and he had reason enough to do so — he understood Urdu like he was supposed to! But I am still left wondering if that was the case with most of the audience, who predictably laughed at every funny looking comment and applauded every time one of narrators reached a crescendo. It was pitiable and sad and I am happy it’s over.

No more Dastangoi for me, ever again and I assume I don’t need to reiterate why I was bored?

XOX

The next day was Bangalore-is excited-day! Teejan Bai, the lone champion of Chhattisgarh’s native art of Pandavani was in town! Now, I’d heard so much about Teejan Bai that I was extremely apprehensive of even going for the show. I have learnt the hard way, that when people talk a lot about a particular performer and their abilities, more often than not, you’re left wondering what all the fuss was about in the first place.

My apprehensions were quite justified and the performance was just mediocre. Teejan Bai has lost her voice and the Draupadi Cheerharan (which is what the performance was all about) lasted for just 5 minutes! Yes, those five minutes were so raw and powerful that it made the rest of the boring 45 minutes or so seem so worth-it… But really, is a good 5 minute performance what people rave so much about?

What I must agree however, is that the use of English words that have become commonplace, like Total and Timepass, were effectively used in perfect comic timing and incited quite a few hearty laughs.

The only bit that stood out for me was the joke of Krishna asking Draupadi how she could blame him for him coming so late to the durbar, when she decided to call him Dwarknath, of all his names! He had to go all the way to Dwarka before he could come and save her, thanks to her choice of calling him that! Kinda stupid, but Oh! So enjoyable!

XOX

And then there was today! Yes, I finally manage to connect back to where I started this LONG LONG post!

The moment I saw how the director/set designer had set up the stage, I knew I was going to like it. Reminiscent of a village Laai Haraaoba platform, with a Bamboo fence and a plate of offerings — the stage suddenly seemed to posses depth that I didn’t know Ranga Shankara was capable of creating… and superbly organized lights, that looked professional for once! And then there was the entrance!

Goosebumps and more goosebumps erupted all over me, when I heard the familiar sound of a Pena with the accompanying Pung and Dholok. The Tangkhul flute was almost magical in the way it was used and so was the atypical double conch… and then it all began…

First the much-seen circular formation, with musicians and narrator at the side and background and then the slow unknotting of an ancient tale, so typical a form to Meitei performing arts!

A friend just asked on FB, why it was called a ballad and all I can say to him now in reply is — what else can you call something that has reached such a sense of purity and finesse? No other word would justify the story of the Goddess of Rice, when said with such style, depth, rusticity and in such a huge emotional range.

The music was amazing, the writing even better and the performances — like I’ve never seen before. The lyrical quality of chaste Meiteilon came to life in this play, and the scenes with the interactions between the Goddesses, broke me down out of sheer joy at the beauty witnessed.

What really worked for the play was the wonderful mix of myth, religion, a love ballad and powerful narration, all interspersed and so beautifully directed into a perfect whole by M Mangangsana.

The proposal scene and the final day of meeting between Phou-Oibi and Akongjamba were the most beautifully etched. With a spirited mix of narration and beautiful sing-song folk-tune inspired interlude every now and then, the mood of these scenes brought a lot of warmth and excitement to the viewer, memories even!

Phou-Oibi showing her true colours to Akongjamba’s mother, was a scene also done very cleverly. Keeping in mind the subtlety of the form, the power and all encompassing rage of Phou-Oibi was amazingly portrayed, invoking awe through the restrain used by the actress in almost everyone sitting in the audience.

To summarize the whole experience, if that’s even possible — The Laihui troupe’s presentation of Phou-Oibi was probably the best performance seen at this year’s festival. I do realize there are three more performances, but I’m kinda convinced they will not reach this level of the mastery of an art. I am impressed and am officially now a fan!

Phou-Oibi has given me new goals in life. I hope to one day act in a Meitei theatrical production and to at least learn, if not master, one of these extremely refined arts, which were and still are, all mine for the taking!

I have new found joy in being Meitei :)

May your art find you too!

If you would like to see what the Laihui performance looks like... check out the directors channel on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/mangangsana

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fate and FB = Pure Evil

Another evening, another hour spent looking up on what the world around me is up to. Facebook does have its uses and for now, its uses to me are to inform me, whether I like it or not, that ‘I am single as single can be’.

The networking site takes pleasures in informing you of the lives of people, you once dreamed of a future with, and how they’re doing absofuckinlutely fine without YOU!

I woke up late this afternoon to a conversation on the ever-benevolent FB, where someone I’ve always been in love with, suddenly decided to pop-up on my screen and chat (Lo! And Behold! It was HIM).

The young and extremely charming saver of lives, who has been in my life for the last five years, stopped by on his virtual highway to pleasure, to find out if I was doing well. I said I was and that was that (at least I thought so!).

But, random chat ensued and we spoke about several things including how he assumed I needed sex, lots of it apparently! If only sex was the solution to everything! *sigh*

Anyhoo, all he stopped by was to inform me that he had fallen in love (one more down, several more to go?). He had met someone special, they went back to his place had wild, fiery sex and now they were in love.

I’ve heard that story and learnt to never judge the hard way, so I congratulated him and assumed that was that.

Right! Like that is ever just that! The conversation went on to speak about why I would never work as his lover and why I am probably the worst thing to happen to someone searching for love.

I thought it must be just wonderful how fate always assumed I could take all this negativity, especially when I was already so deep and immersed in feeling like shit. I’d practically forgotten what ‘Happy’ meant. But where was I to be shown any mercy from fate’s cruel cold intentions and the conversation ensued, as teardrops trickled down my cheek, one by one. (Don’t feel sad, please, coz’ from the likes of that conversation, I am half convinced, I deserved it!)

Now, once upon a time, I used to imagine, the divine force up there cared when I cried (What a small boy, I was!). Now, I realize my tears mean nothing and nobody knew or cared if was crying, dying, being raped, or going mad, at this very moment.

Such realizations can hit you where you hate it the most — at the very core of your ego, your self-image and your esteem, but I have seen far too much of all this to be affected, or even be remotely self-piteous, so I just cried and I left it at that.

That done. I hoped now my day would be a better one, so I checked the Inbox on my mobile. The first message from another special someone was angry. Ridden with insults, it meant: either special someone was drunk, or special someone hated me newly, for something I had just apparently done. Only problem: We don’t live in the same city anymore. What could I have done?

I call. I text. I wonder. The silence remains. But at least I realize why special someone remained ‘just’ special someone in my life. I silently thank god for small mercies. My tummy grumbles. I need food.

I make myself some green tea (not food, but definitely comforting). My splitting senses need some calming. So I switch on the telly and what do I see? Some more gay love being spewed at my face. Unable to take it anymore. I decide to read something online, something dark and cold and mysterious, a lot like the person I was going to meet in the evening. Another special someone, who I hope forever, remains just that!

The heartless bitch virtual stalker called FB pops up, to inform me that another someone special is going to meet his boy love, on my side of the equator. I am now curious. So I stalk a little and then realize it’s kinda pointless to be doing that.

I mean special someone well, and I always hoped he’d find someone nice. But I also wanted him to suffer for not wanting me (stupid little me!). Thankfully my good intentions prevailed and I now continue to want his good. They make such a cute couple. I swear!

Anyhoo, someone special’s boy love is a charming dream boy, who writes really well, cooks really well and to put it really simply — I can see why special someone fell for him. God bless them both as they flirt away and make a happy future together in the fig forest. *takes away the evil eye on them by imagining they’re around and breaking knuckles on both their respective temples*

But that begs the BIG question to be asked. Why did these special someone’s not want to make me their special someone. I mean, I know I am special in their lives, but I am not their boy love. Deep down, I am being manipulated into believing (and it does seem true), that it after-all is about the mere physicality of things.

I am fat. I know it. I am not ashamed of it and will lose the excess tummy that I have, when I know it is needed to be done. My two front teeth, that I lost during an accident, will eventually be replaced, once I find a dentist who can do a good enough job and also assure me that further ‘experiments’ will not be conducted. My mouth feels like a guinea pig — three years of various dental experiments and nothing worthwhile even once. Lots of pain, that’s all.

Now, I have always said that I will not fall for a man, who can’t see past these supposed two shortcomings, but as I grow older, I seem to realize, men like that don’t exist. All my special someone’s are attracted enough to only hold on to me as an emotional connect, but when it comes to the physical, I am a strict, let’s-just-sweep-that-under-the-carpet conversation.

So do I need to mould myself into being a dream boy too? Even though I never felt the need to be one? And is that why my best friend now takes everybody else’s side but mine? Oh wait, that’s another story altogether! Will vomit that out soon enough, when projectile cleaning is required again, for the betterment of the feeling of my soul.

Lots of questions pending and the need to watch a play, I am sure I won’t enjoy, I get ready for my evening. My day couldn’t have gotten worse, I assumed. But it did.

The play was fun. I am now an official fan of Pandavani as a folk art form and just when I thought I could do a quiet little escape post play, dinner plans are made. I can’t do a good enough, ‘I am not really looking forward to that’ expression and so I agree. Also I adore the feminine company I have.

Anyway special someone is there, as he has to be there (!), and I spend the rest of the evening not looking at him, for fear of falling for him more. He is not meant for me, and this time round I hope to not fall for someone ‘again’, now that I’m sure of what he’s looking for. Any guesses?

You or I, won’t be surprised.

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

When Facebook makes you a FAN! :P

Of James Marsden and an associated Facebook conversation now converted into a blog post…

It all started off with me uploading pictures of the only man I truly love and desire (NOT!) But for the sake of this post... I do :) Anyway here’s how it went…

Original uploaded text on FB with pictures: Hello! All :P I am sharing some photos of the future love of my life, because I feels, everyone must enjoy his visuals pleasures. That however doesn't mean, you can drool yourself to dehydration, as he is youvurr brother-in-law after all... future brother-in-law at least. So look with respect, comment with modesty and if you want to do something naughty, please do, just don't let me know or anger might come and I might just DELETE this album... So don't push me against the wall, please friends! :P Now, yenjaai with self-control :)

Now Ann Kochu, who is a friend of Sumana B Jayanth, who is now Sumana Simha, who I only met at a wedding (Ann)… liked it, soon after which, so did… Michelle Wilfred, Priyanka Koijam, Vipp Notism, Tia Raina (who’s blog is linked here) and Anuradha Ramanathan (mostly Christ College connections who have become friends over time)...

So my first comment came from Tia Raina: “Sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”, which was then liked by me. Then came Vipp Notism’s opening line: “Wattebooty! — I mean the message, not the fellow.” To which I replied, “You can mean the fellow also... Liking him is above gender and sexuality :) He’s so above it all... *sighs* :P Thanks anyway :)”.


Now Vipp Notism said something here, but he also deleted it soon after. Something that spoke of a certain Rama Pedda Gundu Rao Bahadur Mangal being the only man who would suffice and the rest — he deleted it though! Anyway my reply was, “I am confused... lol :P Is Rama Pedda Gundu Rao Bahadur Mangal just a name to represent Pakkath Maney Figure... (in this case normal mens items) or is it an actual mix of a Golti Braahmin with a Nepali/Bihari/Bhojpuri? If so... I would like to meet this Rama Pedaa Gundu Rao Bahadur Mangal... Whatte interesting combination it will be this items... :) and what you mean when you say my jamsie cutsie is not a hotsie...? Please retract youvurr random projectile negatifications, or I might be forced to use my Brahmastra against you...! Be warned oh Vipp Notism! :P”. Vipp Notism duly liked it straight after and promptly replied with a “‎:-) he he he”.

Now I was not going to take this lying down (lol :P)… so I quickly responded, “What is he he he :( I want a answer ra :) please waste time and answer in detail, even if its the last thing you want to do :) I really really really want to meet Mr Gundsu :P”. Vipp Notism was quite the sweetheart and tried explaining… “lol, no unfortunately it (gundu) is not real, only as real as an acid trip, a faction of my imagination created in order to conduct fictitious social thought experiments...”

But would I give up? No way… so in typical Romalesque style I replied in full diraama, “You used me. As an experiment. *runs and throws himself at a nearby temple in front of a goddess statue as thunder and lightening crash and boom all around him* *with his sweat soaked hair he flings himself at the goddesses feet and asks for JUSTICE from these menses who have just USED and EXPERIMENTED on him...* *Jawab do maaaaaaaaaa! Mujhe Insaaaaaaf Do! Ek Bharatiya Purush Hone Ki Pavitrata Mein, Mujhe Insaaf Chahiyeeeeeeeee!* *faints from exhaustion of too much B-wood over-acting!* ”

Vipp Notism would not except defeat… No chance… and so in a minute he posted… “‎:D ... han, maine tujhe istimaal kiya, kiya, aur karta rahunga, muahaha, apni devta se prarthna karte rehna, lekin kuch bhi nahin hoga kaliya, muahahaha, nyeeehahaha, *comes back and sits on the casting couch from diabetes and overweight* ‘ramu, chai bidi or chicken laana’ ”… which I liked.

In quick succession however he also added, “ *gets up to deliver one more line* ‘dhanno, mein tera istimaal karta rahunga, tu nachegi meri nishanon par, agar main kehta hun ki gundu hai, tu aur nachegi, nach chhamiya naach, varna tumhe lock-up ke andar dal kar chakki pisvaunga, and rast ob your life you will be chakki peecing and peecing and peecing’. *comes back, sits down on the couch* ‘rameshji, ab mera retirement ka time ho gaya’ ”… which I also liked, by the way.

Since I am super fast in my replies and bothered to only read the previous post, I replied, “I want to continue this... But what you just wrote is a masterpiece... so maybe we can have b-wood dialoged duels on some other conversation... by the way, thanks for making me feel like some weird mix of a raped stand-in actress who's only job is to get raped in a film + some random character out of Sholay + some weird pavitra stree from some South-made Goddess movie... It feels interestingly strange actually, the mix of all these elements... I likes :) Thanks :) I have to add this though... *Naheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen! Mujhe Insaaf Milegaa... Shayad iss janam mein nahin, lekin, aur bhi toh janmein hain... Mujhe Insaaf Milegaa... Aaap dekhte heen rehna Vipp Notism... yeh anth nahin hain, yehi toh shuruat hain!* *sputters blood far too many times more than required and dies* ”. To which he replied, “‎:D... interesting indeed yes, interesting indeed...”

But then, I suddenly realized I hadn’t replied the previous post, so I quickly added, “I likes the second delivery also yaar! Aap toh star nikle yaar! I am like the so impressed with you yaar! Main na, like, I am like, your sabse badi fan like, hoon :P”… to which promptly came the true Vipp Notism style of dialogue delivery in reply, “‎ ‘eh chickne, autograph chahiye kya?, yeh big V autograph denga na, toh puri ki puri fan-base phlat ho jayenga’, ‘eh chhotu, tu actor banna chahta kya?, bol, actor banna chahta kya?, ja, meri liye chai lekar aa, ja’...”, which I liked also!

I couldn't accept defeat either, so I super fastly replied, “arrey aap toh dialogue pe dialogue, dialogue pe dialogue de rahen hain... mujhe bahut shyness is coming for me... *flutters eyelids and bows head in faux-modesty* ”, to which he finally replied, “he he he :D”.

I assume we both won!

What an amazing conversation no?

Of course… there were more comments like Michelle Wilfred claiming she had first right over Marsden… But then we all know the truth :P — “‎ *gasp* .... Sigh!! oh BTW... HE IS MINE!! No matter what u say!! :) Oh don’t even think of arguing coz we’ve done that so many times!! And its not gonna do either of us any good :P ”

Could I but agree more? Coz’ he is after all MINE. ALL MINE. Vipp Notism or no Vipp Notism reply to that :P

10 Trivia about L Romal M Singh :)

All thanks to The Mechanical Contrivium, which I have linked on my page...
I now know...
  1. The moon is 400 times closer to the Earth than L Romal M Singh, and 400 times smaller!
  2. In Japan it is considered rude to talk with L Romal M Singh in your mouth.
  3. If you lace L Romal M Singh from the inside to the outside, the fit will be snugger around your big toe.
  4. A thimbleful of L Romal M Singh would weigh over 100 million tons.
  5. Fish travel in schools, but whales travel in L Romal M Singh!
  6. L Romal M Singh was invented in China in the eleventh century, but was only used for fireworks, never for weapons!
  7. Olympic badminton rules say that L Romal M Singh must have exactly fourteen feathers.
  8. L Romal M Singh kept at the window will keep vampires at bay!
  9. The number one cause of blindness in the United States is L Romal M Singh!
  10. L Romal M Singh will become gaseous if his temperature rises above -42°C.
Whatte Coolness, NO?