Review: Oleanna [Jagriti, Bangalore]

Posted on Jun 19th, 2017 by Shuchi in Reviews, English, Jagriti

Oleanna Jagriti ProductionI walked in to watch Oleanna at Jagriti, Bangalore knowing little about the script – which was just as well. The surprise and slow-mounting tension of this play is probably more powerful without prior familiarity. [If you haven’t watched the play yet, I’d say watch and then return to read further.]

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Ramayana Ballet Prambanan, Yogyakarta

Posted on Jun 4th, 2016 by Shuchi in Reviews, Classical, Mythology, Other Languages

Prambanan Ramayana JogjaThe city of Yogyakarta (Indonesia) is home to Prambanan, one of the largest Hindu temple sites in Southeast Asia.

The star attraction of Prambanan is the Ramayana ballet, performed open-air* at night with the richly lit temples in its backdrop.

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Review: The Yogi and The Dancer

Posted on Jun 16th, 2014 by Shuchi in Reviews, Children's Plays, Comedy, English, Jagriti

The Yogi And The DancerThe 2000-year old Sanskrit farce Bhagavadajjukam, on which Jagriti Theatre’s The Yogi And The Dancer is based, is probably the oldest implementer of the Body Swap device (or, as they’d say in Sanskrit, Parakaya Pravesha). The Body Swap has been seen since then in various creative works – novels, movies, manga and more. Films like Freaky Friday or Dating The Enemy use the device for comic effect, not without some learning for the characters involved. Others like Jhuk Gaya Aasman or Down To Earth use it to take the tale through bizarre twists.

When the switcheroo is between a Yogi and a Dancer, the scripting possibilities are rich. Would there be a clash of moral standpoints, a gaining of new perspective? A lesson, perhaps, that the Dancer can live for greater purpose than pining gigglingly for her beloved, that the Yogi can do well to sometimes prioritize medication over meditation?

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Review: BaDe Miyan Deewane

Posted on Jun 14th, 2014 by Kishore in Reviews, Comedy, Hindi, Rangbaaz

RangBaaz BaDe Miyan DeewaneTennyson wrote ‘In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love’. What he did not mention is that some men think that it is eternally spring and that they are eternally young. And, of course, they have their own interpretation of what ‘love’ means. The title BaDe Miyan Deewane which means "old chap’s gone crazy" harks back to a popular song from the movie Shagird.

Meer Sahib is one of those ‘young men’, an octogenarian with a leg or two in his grave. He has been limping along in the journey of life with his body firmly supported by a couple of tawaifs Gulab and Heera. And suddenly, he takes a fancy to his neighbour’s young daughter Suraiya. He thinks it is time to move from the tawaif to a wife. The tawaifs are, of course, flabbergasted at losing a steady source of income. Having invested their past on Meer Sahib, they want a share in his future. Though mutual rivals, they decide to form a partnership in an attempt to thwart him from marrying Suraiya.

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Review: Jungle Book

Posted on Jun 10th, 2014 by Kishore in Reviews, English Et Al, Musicals, Rangbaaz

A trilingual take on Kipling

Jungle Book: RangBaaz My first encounter with Kipling was with Rikki Tikki Tavi, from his collection of short stories published under the title Jungle Book, some sixty years after he had been honoured with a Nobel Prize. Much later when the Disney movie Jungle Book hit the Indian screens, I enjoyed the way some of those short stories had been woven into one narrative, though sadly RTT was not a part of it. Jungle Book is best known today as the adventures of the ‘man-cub’ Mowgli, and it is this version that this play brings on to the stage.

Let me not waste any time on the plot – most people already know it: a human child raised by the wolves, with some help from a bear and a panther, who protect it from other creatures in the jungle – and get on with this play.

Most of the characters in Rangbaaz Group’s Jungle Book speak English or Hindi or both. The Bandar Log seem to be the only ones who are trilingual, chattering in Marathi with each other. They sing various Hindi songs and play rhyming word games. If you had any doubt as to where the troupe was from, the monkeys put them to rest – they were from Bum-bay, sorry Mumbai. One of them even reminded me of my favourite Marathi comedian Ashok Saraf, sans his trademark moustache , which I understand has now parted ways with him. The Marathi used was simple and, accompanied by energetic escapades of the monkeys, elicited appreciative cheers from the crowd to such an extent that language did not really matter.

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Review: Mukhyamantri

Posted on May 26th, 2014 by Kishore in Reviews, Comedy, Kannada

A Kannada play from Kalagangotri, Bengaluru

MukhyamantriI walked into the theatre with a premonition that this might have something to do with Kissa Kursi Ka or Yes, Minister. I was proved wrong. This two-hour comedy has few one-liners, which are usually the staple of comedies. Instead, actions and reactions make you laugh. Mukhyamantri also makes you realise that *seeing* a drama is a richer experience than merely hearing it on the radio.

The stage was swathed in white: the ‘divans’-and-bolsters for visitors at the party office and at the CM’s residence, the dining table, a colleague’s residence, the party ‘uniform’ (including the cap). The exceptions to this colour scheme were a few telephones, an extinct contraption called a typewriter (some of you might have to Google that), three ladies who brought in a modicum of colour, and the hearts of the characters involved.

Chief Minister of Udayachal, Krishna Dwaipayana Kaushal is worried about losing his chair, as rivals in the party are jockeying to catch the High Command’s eye and grab his post. But he is made of sterner stuff. His various machinations to retain the position remind us that liquor, flesh and food may be powerful motivators, but the most potent of them all is ‘power’.

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Review: MariamLa Moorane Madhuve

Posted on May 16th, 2014 by Kishore in Reviews, Comedy, Kannada, VASP

MariamLa Moorane MadhuveMariam’s Third Marriage: A Kannada play from VASP

Wodehouse has amply demonstrated Bertie Wooster’s proclivity to get into trouble in the absence of Jeeves. Wooster without Jeeves is unimaginable, or is it the other way around…?

Take this plot:

A big game hunter’s millionaire master makes it to the obituary column, after an attempt to be photographed with a lion which, he thought, was dead (the lion thought otherwise). The hunter, in the meantime, falls for the deceased’s wife, but has to put a lid on his feelings because you can’t just propose to a lady who is far wealthier than you.

Back in town, the hunter goes to the races and wins a couple of large bets, but the bookie and his assistant run away instead of paying up. The bookie is none other than the local landlord who, though owning a large palatial house, is impoverished without any other source of income than running book. He and his trusted manservant stash their hats, robes and fake moustaches as soon as they get home. The manservant is Jeeves, of course. Everyone brings their problems to him.

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