Social Interaction should not be curbed in the name of Ragging

I wrote this for Desicritics. Read the article here.

The article was a response to a number of reports I read in the papers about ragging being a big social evil. While that is true, there are some beneficial fallouts as well, which I have tried to write about.

Also posted here (I plan to archive my writings here).

Butter and Mashed Bananas

A review of Butter and Mashed Bananas, written and directed by Ajay Krishnan (Harami Theatre) which performed at Ranga Shankara this weekend on my personal blog.

Butter and Mashed Bananas

Watched Butter and Mashed Bananas at Ranga Shankara today.

Butter and Mashed Bananas is a play written and directed by Ajay Krishnan, peroformed by Haraami Theatre Group (Googling for them sadly brings up pages full of expletives). It is the story of a boy born to unusual circumstances and unusual parents. The boy grows up to become a world famous author, attends pseudo coctail parties and becomes a politician who tries to speak "the truth". The play came highly recommended with many awards and performance at the Prithvi Theatre festival in Bombay.

The incisive humour was refreshing. The play takes a dig at the pseudo-ism that has permeated our lives, from feminists to fundamentalists. The boy is born to a passionate and illicit relationship between a communist-feminist and a fundamentalist-right wing, and speculation about his political inclinations is rife even before his birth. His impending birth seems to be full of so many choices that he obstinately refuses to come out of his mother’s womb. The story then weaves along to the adult, an internationally acclaimed writer, celebrated by the media, lapped up by pseudo-intellectuals. There is a long tirade against the censor board, and then the boy finds a political voice, which gets drowned in the (again illicit) romance between the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition. Free speech is curbed, and so are the words and the lexicon, voice is killed.

What was really good about the play was the satire, a comedy poking like a pin at our society and tickling the audience. Politics, moral policing, pseudo-intellectualism was debunked, splitting them open, audience splitting in laughter. The acting of the guy who played the father (I could not find this info anywhere on the net — they should really have a website — it sounded like Gunjan to me) was amazing, excellent comic timing, great stage presence, and an outstanding performance overall. The other characters were also well played, but it would have been better if the mother had been a little more effiminate :)

The use of music was also great, it gets absorbed in the flow and was non-intrusive. In fact, it makes the performance all the more entertaining. The actors were wearing ghunghroos on one of the feet, and a lot of abstract art made it very absorbing. The props were few but well used. In fact, in most cases were abstract objects made out of a sheet of white cloth.

Most of the play was very well choreographed, the actors moving in perfect sync, in both body and voice. It was evident that it had been practiced well. In fact, a lot of places, the actors got away with their acting because the choreography was well done. At the same time, a few places, one got the feeling that the choreography was forced, the dance movements intruding the context, confusing the audience. It also seemed puerile at times — excess of anything is bad, if it is good choreograhy.

A very good watch overall, an excellent way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, and with a little bit of editing would have been perfect!

What a day :(

Today’s newspaper front page was perhaps one of the worst I have seen. The front page of The Hindu read:

Like some wave of terror. Hope the perpetrators are soon brought to task and terror can be curbed.

Never wish to see such front page again.

Crossings at Benaras Junction

Another one from the LittleMag stable. This one’s a play called Crossings at Benaras Junction by Kaushik Basu. The play is about a professor of philosophy, Siddhartha Chatterjee, who wins an international honour, but instead of being elated, is instrospective and lonely. He seeks the love of his life, and his life seems incomplete. There is another thread about a travel tour operator, who somehow unwittingly tries to use acronyms of international agencies (wuch as WTO and GATT) for his agencies, whose sole aim in life is to make money, and not ethically. The two stories come together in the end.

What I loved about the play was the subtle humour, the word-play (WTO and GATT), allusions to well known literary works (Lady Chatterjee’s Brother). There is sophistication in the humour, for instance there is slight paradox brought out when Siddhartha counters June’s statement about being god-fearing with a quip from Vivekananda — "There is no sin bigger than fear", and whether Siddharth speaks for both sides — whether bluffing is good or not.

Gupta ji is an interesting character, I guess it would be fun to play him!

However, I felt that a lot of places the play sagged in energy. The sophisticated humour notwithstanding, one needs to have some energy to sustain audience’s interest in the play. Also, the climax was a big disappointment. As we went towards the denoument, one got the feeling that the whole play that had been built up so beautifully, came crashing down like a pack of cards. I really don’t understand what the need of a Bollywood style ending was!

On another note, I find myself reading a lot of articles from Little Mag and enjoying them. I guess I should just buy a subscription.

Sibling Rivalry

From the Dilbert Blog:

In the news, a groom in India showed up drunk, so the villagers chased him away and replaced him with his “more sober” little brother. Problem solved.

One theory that this news report did not explore is that this wedding was on a tight budget. You can spend a fortune on the bride’s hair and makeup and gown, or you can buy a few bottles of Grey Goose and get the guests and the groom plastered. Either way, the bride looks great.

This would be especially gratifying if the brothers had a history of sibling rivalry. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the sounds from the honeymoon suite: “Here’s. . . for. . . beating me in. . . ping pong. . . Here’s . . . for. . . saying I. . . broke. . . the. . . lamp!”

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