Review: Full Meals

Posted on May 18th, 2011 by Shuchi in Reviews, Comedy, Tahatto

Tahatto Full Meals Do you know that feeling when you’re eating a dish with relish, in leisured bite sizes, when someone jogs your elbow and the last spoonful you were all set to savour drops to the floor?

Much of my Full Meals experience was like that. But let me begin at the beginning.

The deal is a series of six mini-plays, cushioned with short acts by a pair of actors in imaginative roles (dead superheroes to restaurant waiters to statues in a park!). The mini-plays stand by themselves without interlinks, only the actors get shared.

Most of the mini-plays start with a blast. The first, Love and Lightning, has the surefire hit formula of a Jab We Met – OTT bubbly female meets no-nonsense uninterested bloke and chatters her way into his heart. But while Jab We Met takes its time for the shift in the guy’s stance to be plausible, the airport guy does a volte-face before you can say Jack Robinson. Funny one-liners, great rhythm – but ultimately a bit of a let down.

Toll Free Professional has a most interesting premise – man in intimate conversation with an IVR. The best moment of Full Meals – the automated voice compressing the man’s lengthy monologue to a country’s name. I wish the IVR had built upon that line further; as it stands that is a throwaway without further context.

Reminiscent of Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth, Everybody Needs Help has “God” talking to a disbelieving psychiatrist. “God” slips in his identity so nonchalantly you don’t see it coming till a moment later. A brilliant touch, that. Here too, the act falters at its end – the beat at the last line is held on a shade too long.

I suspect that a lot of Full Meals might have been sharper and shinier on paper than on stage. In the Tom-and-Jerry-isque sequence with orchestra conductors, for example, the well-conceived segue between the theme tunes of Mohabbatein and the Old Spice advert felt tame in execution. It’s a new cast and well, you can see that it’s new. Exception for two superb actors here – Kalyani and Prashanth Nair. Prashanth Nair was such a ripping autowallah that if he stepped out of Alliance Française looking and talking like that, someone would surely have asked him  "Jayanagar barthira?".

The story of the reluctant soldier left me cold. I was reminded of how powerfully Hardy’s The Man He Killed captures the same dilemma. Why go far – Lt. Dharamvir from JP Dutta’s film Border does a more convincing job of it. Perhaps the serious tone of this act did not fit in with the light-heartedness of the rest of Full Meals, plus there simply wasn’t the time to tackle it effectively.

The crux is that there was too much going on. The two actors who came in between the mini-acts, funny as they were, didn’t act as connectors or narrators – they did independent stuff. In a sense there weren’t six short acts but double the number. Cricket and terrorism and telemarketing and immigrants in Bangalore and I wondered, how would it have been had Tahatto thought of fleshing out any one idea into a long play – Bangalore through the eyes of its auto-drivers? A full-length romcom about a mismatched couple at the airport? I might have preferred that, I think, to the touch-and-go style we got to see.

So this isn’t a Bangalore-style "full meals", more a buffet lunch at a multi-cuisine restaurant. I lade my plate, eat my fill and leave with the thought "The lasagna was great and so was the rasam. If only the two hadn’t run into each other."

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Article by Shuchi

Shuchi lives in Bangalore (mostly), when she isn’t traveling out of town for work. She adores theatre and writes about plays she watches whenever she gets a chance.

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9 Comments to “Review: Full Meals”

  1. Hi Shuchi,
    I’ve always loved reading your reviews. As a play watcher, I’ve found myself coming down here to check if you’ve written about a play I happened to watch over the weekend, solely because I find your views objective and fleshed-out. This one too is right on the money! Which is why we were eager on having you watch it. I am glad you did. 🙂
    The biggest challenge we had set for ourselves with Full Meals was creating original content that was not bound by rules. And I must say… we needed to be judged on that front. I thank you immensely for this review, because we do want to get better and tighter at the craft. Rest assured, you will see us getting better too. 🙂 With Full Meals, we were curious to see whether stories could be told without dwelling on characters or their backgrounds. On some levels we succeeded, on some we didn’t. But the way I see it, there’s no fun left if we did it right the first time itself. 🙂 Every bit of feedback means the world to us – both good and bad. And that’s why this review is definitely bound to help us grow more than the perfunctory vanilla compliment. Thanks again. P.S – The Lasagna will never mix with the Rasam again. Trust us on that 😉

    May 18th, 2011 1:23 pm

  2. Hi Shuchi,
    Thanks a lot for coming and watching Full Meals. And thanks again for writing about it. We have been following your blog and read lots of well written reviews. Some points in this review, like drawing parallels to Movie characters are very interesting. The points like “the beat at the last line is held on a shade too long” can only be picked and expressed by someone like you who follows and adores theater so closely. Very commendable and apt too. We will definitely have these points in mind when we start our next show. Thats one thing theater offers and movies dont…Correcting mistakes!

    May 18th, 2011 1:38 pm

  3. The review correctly captures the thoughts that the play evokes in the mind of the viewer. Why couldn’t the play have been based on a single plot? Why did they put in so many acts?Why was there no connection between those acts?
    Though most of these independent acts were well done, were thought provoking and funny, when put together,it was too much of everything.
    The team should definitely be applauded for the comic timings specially in a few acts(the auto driver act was very hilarious and believable, as correctly pointed out by Shuchi). Also most of the actors did a good job with their share of stage. In all the play was fun and there were no boring/yawning moments. The humor, though disconnected kept the play alive at all moments.
    However, there are specific recipes for specific dishes and though all dishes can be experimented with to a certain extent, if you add all the spices available in the kitchen, it will be anything but flavorful.
    Basically I had a good time in the theater but came out wondering, what a great play it could have been!!!!

    May 18th, 2011 11:37 pm

  4. Hi Shuchi,

    Nicely written…
    The show definitely had its moments and plenty of laughter filled the auditorium, there was also something missing. Throughout the play I kept looking for a common thread that would weave all the acts together. But it just did not happen. In a conversation with a friend after the show, I learnt that Tahatto is a very young in experience group. You can see it in their performance. It felt like I was back in college watching an inter-collegiate drama competition.

    Although the play did not live up to my expectations, I think the group has immense potential. And the fact that the concept, script, direction and other technical aspects were executed by the young group itself stands witness to their future potential.

    May 18th, 2011 11:53 pm

  5. Thank you so much for the review. The stories of the play were varied in expression, style and taste to give the audience a feel of the wholesome “full meal” which consists of tangy, sweet and many more flavors. The idea was to make the audience experience the meal of life which comes with different moods and moments, not all of them nice, sweet & easy-to-digest ones.

    When working on the play we did discuss of how each of the stories can be a complete play in itself and how we can easily link up the stories to give that feeling of connect/flow. But then isn’t it true that every individual relishes the same meal in their own unique way. Where one likes rice with curd other might go for the rasam and a north-indian like me will prefer it with sabji. We tried to add that individuality of dishes to each of the stories with the ease of mix-n-match, where the comic helpings in between simply end up being the salad or sweet or chutney depending your personal choice.

    Being the new chefs in town we do have a lot of space to improve the meal further and feedback like yours will simply helps us do that.

    May 19th, 2011 7:29 am

  6. My thoughts are same. The menu was interesting. Once the chefs improve the recipe, this will be a must-have.

    May 19th, 2011 9:33 am

  7. @Prashanth, @Badri, @Piyush:

    Great to hear from you – welcome here and thanks for your kind words about DramaDose. With your talent and attitude, I’m sure Tahatto will do wonders.

    Thats one thing theater offers and movies dont…Correcting mistakes! – hear, hear!

    Beyond the craft, there is a higher quality of making a connection with the audience – that you guys have in ample measure.

    May 19th, 2011 9:22 pm

  8. @rachna, @Mehnaz, @Sreekanth:

    Thanks for sharing your feedback.

    “And the fact that the concept, script, direction and other technical aspects were executed by the young group itself stands witness to their future potential.”: +1 for that. It might have been safer to use a ready, established script; I’m glad they went the gutsier way.

    May 19th, 2011 9:31 pm

  9. hey shuchi…hope you are doing fine. Catch “Full Meals” at Alliance Fr. this Saturday..its yummier and improved now based on the various feedback we received last time..

    Entry to ‘Full Meals’ is free and complimentary passes can be collected from Times Of India office, M.G.Road from 10 am – 5 pm.For any queries, contact us at : +91 98450 51344 / 98459 52766. Please share to with your friends!

    February 10th, 2012 1:06 pm

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