Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dancing on Glass- a Poignant Play...

What a phenomenal play!

PS and I went to watch this play called "Dancing on Glass" at Rangashankara. Now I've seen a number of plays but this one is easily the most poignant yet funny, ironic yet tragic one I have ever seen. One of the finest dark comedies I have seen, nay experienced. A definite must watch whether for the plot itself or for the powerhouse performances by the two actors taking the audience along their twisted and tinged-with-optimism-and-guilt lives.

Having whet your curiosity about the play I can't really leave you without sharing some more about the plot.

The story revolves around two people living away from their respective homes in the IT capital of the country, possibly Bangalore. From the short conversations with their parents you can almost imagine their situation. Unsatisfied with the cocoon of their safe and slow homes they moved to the city where it's neither safe nor slow, where they are just a part of the milieu. Where their work gives them no joy, just a means to survive. And to top it all, too afraid to show that they're scared, too proud to go back to happier places and times with their families around them.

Shankar and Megha share a strange connection in this speedy city. Shankar is Megha's boyfriend Pradeep's flatmate. A typical small town guy who likes the girl (platonic) and assumes that Pradeep and Megha would marry and 'live happily ever after'. For that matter, even Pradeep and Megha share a strange relationship due to their work. They work in a call centre that works at night. And the topsy-turvyness of their work life spills over to their personal life and the most they see of each other is in the stressful environment of their night shift workplace.

Tragedy strikes and Pradeep, after going sleepless at work for two days, crashes his bike and dies when a lorry tramples him and keeps going. The play is about the aftermath of this tragedy and the effect it has on Shankar and Megha.

As Megha delves into her emotions, first towards herself and Pradeep, the tragedy and then the faint linings of silver on her dark clouds in the form of the simple yet loyal Shankar, she faces the biggest challenge of her life - guilt for the little joys that were coming and her feelings for her past. The guilt of seemingly abandoning the memories of her past while embracing a faintly positive future.

Shankar, on his part, faces something he has never faced before - a forlorn and hurting woman. Struggling with his own feelings, his work, his loyalty to a dead friend who was a good person (hence impossible to hate and justify falling for his girlfriend), Shankar also faces something he never did earlier - a woman that is beyond an adolescent sexual caricature of his mind but a real human being with feelings, ambitions and thoughts. Though it wasn't mentioned in the play, it is probably the first time he was ever interacting with a woman to the extent of having feelings for her.

And excellent play with some amazing dialogues. Humour that counterbalances and, on occasion, underlines the dark tragic undertones. The two actors Abhishek Majumdar and Meghana Mundkur have really given a superlative performance. Though Abhishek's Shankar comes out the crowd favourite with his mannerisms and easy to identify with situations (afterall the play was being staged in front of people living similar lives in Bangalore), I personally thought that Meghana Mundkur 's Megha was a brilliant performance. She did not have the benefit of having too many funny lines but she ensured that her role did not sink into a purely sad and angry heroine. She portrayed her subdued anger, desperation and struggle with internal and external demons amazingly. A wonderful performance (As an aside I seem to recognize her from an earlier play by a group called Evam. A Monty Python short play. I'm not sure but I think she's the same actress)

The play has completed it's run in Rangashankara but I hope it comes back again. And if you get a chance, do go and see it. Highly recommended.

PS: And whenever you go to see the play, do observe the markings on the stage. It'll be very interesting to interpret them.

PPS: The markings actually form a flow chart which most people with a IT background will understand. The decision box (the diamond/ rhombus)is strategically located in a spot where the protagonists face their realities and raise questions about their lives. And also where their lives first intersect.

PPPS: As the significance of the markings struck me, I had a vision of going high above the stage and zooming backwards while looking at the flowchart from a distance. The bigger image would be two flowcharts for both the people starting at their birth and going on till their death. These two flowcharts come together at a decision box, this phase of their life, a small homogenization of a single element of their life. Who knows, for all you know, their flowcharts (lives?)may diverge again after sometime. We don't know, but that's what makes it even more poignant...


Friday, January 22, 2010

'Light' Trouble...

When I hear stories of poor visibility conditions in foggy Delhi making traffic crawl to a stop (unless, you know, it doesn't quite stop voluntarily and this happens: ), all I do is scoff.

Bah, why blame the heavens and climate change and chilly winds and what not for conditions that I can create almost effortlessly with just just a little external help. You want poor visibility while driving? Hey, presto here you are!

OK, a little rewind is probably required now. As you know, I drive a Fiat Palio. Now, I love that car (most expensive purchase I've ever done) but it seems that age is finally catching up with it a bit. A month and a half back while returning back from a dinner at night I noticed the left side of my field of vision not quite measuring up in clarity to the right side. Now normally after an evening out I don't really think too much of these little lopsidedness because the reason for such maladies are very clear based on my consumption during the above mentioned evening out. But on that day the standard explanation was not true. It was actually just a dinner!

Puzzled, I turned my head rapidly around, cursed, and with one hand supporting my neck, figured out that one headlight of the car was on a break. Well, I got back safe enough and as I am a bit conscious about safety and my car I promptly took the car to the garage on the weekend. I also got a full service done and the garage guy started treating the headlight issue as a minor glitch.

After the servicing things were fine for 2-3 days and then again I saw the lopsidedness. And because I had sufficient reasons to explain it this time, I ignored the problem. But a few days later I had to take the car back to the garage for redoing the headlight.

Again it was okay for a few days. I travelled a bit in between and I sort of reconciled myself to driving with less illumination on one side and started driving on high beam to get a view.

BUT today it just crossed the limits. The left side low beam AND high beam have stopped functioning. And to add to it the right side low beam is also gone. So I drove back this evening guiding my car with just one high beam of light on the right side!

I sense a conspiracy here. Do I have a stalking saboteur who takes perverse pleasure in mixing up the wires in my electricals (my car's, jeez). Or is it some heavenly interference that's saying, "Say, Swapnil, you didn't quite spend enough on your car repairs for a while. I'm going to make you pay and that too with the most irritating niggles!"

One more task enters the to-do list for the weekend.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Whiff of Winter...

The aircraft pierced through the thick all encompassing fog and lined up with the runway last Thursday. As it undertook a rather smooth equipment assisted landing I braced myself for the horror stories of the cold in Delhi that I'd been hearing for a while (Am on a flying visit to Delhi to catch up with my latest niece - she's very cute, thank you :) ).

Well, spoilt in Bangalore's rather temperate weather the maximum defence against the cold that I could muster up at 4 in the morning after returning from office at 11:30 the previous night was a thin jacket - and I duly zipped up the jacket upto my neck. But nothing prepared me for the sheer wall of cold that struck me as I stepped off the aircraft.

And the thing is - I loved it!

As I saw the steam rising in my breath, so many memories of the winters I spent in Delhi came rushing back. From getting up shivering to catch the early morning school-bus to the late night chai and maggi in college to driving through fog and sleet to the numerous walks taken with the refreshing crisp air rushing into the lungs to reinvigorate you.

I just love the Delhi winters. And food plays a great part in most of the memories associated with this brilliant season. Now I'm not a big tea drinker, in fact my mum still gives me a glass of milk whenever I visit home, but we've had so many expeditions to get chai in the crisp evenings.

And of course the samose and pakode along with the chai as a bunch of you sit hunched up around in multiple jackets and sweaters, not even daring to talk for fear of the cold winds getting a chink in the armour to run their icy fingers in. Is there any better camaraderie?

And then the hot paranthe that I used to get for dinner in the dhabas outside my B-school. Is there any better survival food?

And and, sitting in the thick quilt and munching on peanuts watching TV. Is there any better family bonding?

Now that I've experience the Delhi winters in all it's glory, the temperate Bangalore weather is feeling a bit insipid :(.

Sigh, Delhi winters, brilliant (chattering teeth)


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Niece, twice over :)...

Just wanted to give a quick good news to people who stay in touch by reading my blog. I am the proud uncle of a second healthy baby girl today!! My sister and the baby are both doing fine.

Went out to this nice Italian place called Vicky's La Terraca with DU (who I was meeting after quite a while) to celebrate. Pretty good mediterranean setting - almost Olive Beach-ish in ambiance. And really good food.

I'm SOOOO relieved and happy that didi and the baby are well...

Give her blessings you folks - with me as her mama she really needs all the wishes she can get!! :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

False start 2010...

The new year has started on a really foul note. A conversation I had last evening has been playing incessantly in my head and is actually affecting my whole mood and demeanor. I've been low since last evening and only I know how I've gone through the entire day at work.

Sometimes you don't realize that the air is not as clear as you've lulled yourself into imagining and that there are just too many things floating around. Expectations, priorities, self-illusion, suppressed thoughts - they all come together and really give you a sucker punch in the solar plexus that blows away all the wind in your lungs.

I'm just going to brood if I write anymore. I just wish I could remove the negative thoughts from my mind. It's really affecting me.

Anyway, you guys have a great new year...