Shakuntala Remembered by Little Jasmine Theater

image I went to a performance of Shakuntala Remembered by the Little Jasmine Theater group. It was an English Adaptation of Shakuntala as originally written by Kalidasa using a number of translations. The story is about Shakuntala who is wedded to Dushyanta (a gandharva wedding, no less!) during one of his hunting sprees, but subsequently forgets about her completely and even humiliates her in front of the whole court.

The performance was actually a fusion of theater by Kirtana Kumar, a kalari performance by Anmol Mothi and guitar sounds by Konarak Reddy. Kirtana carried almost the whole performance and the narrative on her own shoulders, and Anmol mainly spoke with his body — moving it delicately with lyrical quality, in fact, his dialogs were in Malayalam (which is something I didn’t quite get the motivation for). Each of them were great by themselves, but the fusion didn’t happen. It seemed more like a pastiche stitched together hastily. It seemed like three artists performing separately, but not a single performance which it should have been.

imageAlso, there were a number of meta-stories around the main plot — of Vyasa and Narada and of Shakuntala talking to a bunch of wise men. There was a meta-meta-story about terrorism and of loss of self-righteousness in the yuga of kali. These felt completely forced. The connection to terrorism was just not there — for some reason the sutradhar kept talking about terrorism which to my ignorant self seemed completely unrelated to the rest of the plot. There could have been other ways to establish relevance to current affairs, some better than showing recent terrorist activities on a video at the beginning of a play about love.

However, in the midst of this, it dawned to me that mathematics was not one of the strong points of Kalidasa (or his translators). Shakuntala waited for Dushyanta for 12 years, which they equated with 4380 days (or some other number ending in zero). Since 12*365 ends in a zero (because 5 and 2 would be factors), and the number of leap years in a span of 12 consecutive years can not be more than 9 or less than 1, this number doesn’t seem quite right to me. Perhaps some algebra I don’t know about :-P On second thoughts, there can be a fallacy in this reasoning. Let’s see if somebody can point this out.

The mathematical digression, and the very poor joke aside, they play was a decent performance, but not the best that I have seen. They should have worked harder on the screenplay. It remained a good performance, and can not be called superlative, and will not make it to my spaces blog.

Some more coverage: here, here and here.

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The Cafe at Alliance Francaise de Bangalore and the number 13

I saw Let’s Have Sex by Vladimir Krasnogorov performed by Workshop Productions today at Alliance Francaise de Bangalore. While the play will not find its way into my spaces blog, it was my first visit to af Bangalore, and I liked the place. What really piqued me was the cafe. There was a strange mathematical irony (or perhaps creativity!) because almost everything seemed to be priced at Rs. 13. Obviously, Nobody there suffers from triskaidekaphobia. However, looks like the architect of the place was cut short of using his math-creativity fully. The samosa stood out as an eye-sore at Rs. 8 and tea (2 cups) was disappointingly priced at Rs. 14 (how could they break the symmetry?!).

Gave me an idea. Imagine, a row of gourmet items all priced at Rs. 13. Of course, there are 13 items. The cafe-owner could very conveniently hang a large board with multiplication tables of 13 to aid the customers (the clincher!).

Cafe 13, or perhaps to make it even more mathematically esoteric, Cafe E.

[I am not the lone lover of symmetry. Looks like very much a geek thing. People have done it with far more disastrous consequences. Damn, if I knew how to draw cartoons!]

Vijay Tendulkar’s ‘Kanyadaan’: An Unparalleled Performance

Went to see Vijay Tendulkar’s Kanyadaan directed by Lillete Dubey performed at Chowdiah Memorial Hall today. It was an amazing performance, one of the best I have been. Read more at my spaces blog.

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A Ghazal Extravaganza

Roz kehta hoon ki bhula doonga use,
Aur Roz yeh baat bhool jaata hoon

Ustad Ghulam Ali Sahab said that we could not forget this sher very quickly, and trust him to be true. Listening to two ghazal maestros on the same night is rarity and we were lucky to get a chance to listen to Jagjit Singh and Ghulam Ali tonight. While Jagjit Singh was at his soothing best, Ghulam Ali (in my opinion) stole the evening with his versatility and good humour. He was cracking jokes, reciting shayari, and rendering beautiful music with great elan.

However, I didn’t find myself transported to another world, which is what great music can do (and so I haven’t written this in my spaces blog). Sadly, it was not because of the music, but rather because of the organization. I was disgusted how the organizers didn’t seem much bothered with the music. Will try to list down some gripes:

  1. Please, for Heaven’s sake, don’t have food on the side all the while. In the middle of a wonderful shayari, when you find yourself admiring the words and the voice, you would really not appreciate clanking of spoons. And not to mention, people using the place as thoroughfare, walking around as if its not music they have come to listen but walk the ramp in their latest sarees and kurta-pyjamas. My guess is that the sponsors didn’t pay enough and they had to earn money on the side selling (unpalatable) noodles for 40 bucks. The very least they could have done is to have an interval if they wanted to make some money on the side.
  2. Have good speakers. Saving money on speakers in a musical evening doesn’t make sense. Never.
  3. Start on time. Otherwise let people know you would be starting late and they would come late.
  4. If you are planning a musical concert, please at least make sure that there is no other loud music (like discotheques) playing on the side. Imagine Ghulam Ali’s rendition of a ghazal being interrupted by loud party music, and the maestro himself getting irritated and asking the organizers to stop and (and the organizers being helpless). In fact, he said ‘Zara iss aafat ko khatm ho jaane dijiye‘, but that never happened!
  5. Don’t allow kids. While I love kids, I don’t see much point in kids who can’t even speak attending a ghazal concert. I agree they can’t be left alone at home, but it might be more advisable to leave them with a reliable baby-sitter rather having the kid disturb the parents as well as the rest of the audience.
  6. There is no point trying to have the accompanying instrumentalists try to play classical music suddenly in the middle of a ghazal, esp. if they are not accomplished enough to move people with their music. I found myself thinking of real classical musicians and finding these paling in comparison. (This was in the Jagjit Singh part)
  7. Get a better emcee! I don’t like can’t stand emcees who come on stage and say ‘three lucky winners‘ as if it is a beauty contest. And inviting three distinguished guests on stage – Padmabhushan Jagjit Singh ji, Ustad Ghulam Ali Sahab, and Manager – Credit Cards and Personal Loans. I wished to run up on the stage and beat the hell out of the guy for telemarketing calls.

Anyway, too long. Guess, if they had just taken care of the first two points, it would have ensured an excellent musical evening. Sadly, it only remained a good musical evening.

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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.

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