Theatre

I was talking to my mother today and somewhere thru the conversation we drifted to my early days in school when i used to take part in skit and drama competitions. We don’t call that theatre in India not when you’re 10 -15 yrs old. But we do take it as seriously.  We didn’t have theatre as a subject in school, it was more in the form of competitions and invited voluntary participation of students. I was extremely interested from a very young age.

I remember the first time I was on the stage for a play, I was in the 4th grade. And the play was based out of a village. In India in small towns and villages a common form of entertainment used to be watching this guy make his pet monkey perform tricks like jump over a stick, go through a ring etc. Just a street circus of sorts. So a scene in this play had a guy play same. I was one among the villagers who come and watch the guy do his stuff and then had to disperse. We all converged to see his act and then he was to declare that the show was over, which was our cue for dispersing and then he’d fold up his belongings and walk out. During the actual performance, soon as he declared that his show was over, the others dispersed, I was just so engrossed in the play that I stood there watching him fold his belongings and then a few seconds later I sort of woke up from the moment and turned around to see myself standing there alone. Startled, I ran to the back-stage.

Apart from it being a very stupid thing to do and a forgettable moment for an actor on theatre, it did make me realize how real theatre was and how i loved to watch him do his thing right in front of me.

I later went to the senior school and continued to participate in theatre. In one of such scripts I was playing the role of a brahmin priest. It required us to have a bald head look. Now the work around in the make up room was to have us wear a football bladder on our heads. The color of the bladder is usually close to the skin color for no known reason to me. But we were to wear that bladder on our heads and there was a hole on the top of it through which a long braid of hair to look like a priest. Funny it sounds now that I read it. The issue was that the bladder was tight. A tight-fitting, air tight rubber membrane like thing on your head on a summer evening in india isn’t the most pleasant thing to wear. On top of that the room we were sitting in didn’t have fans (I have no clue why we were made to sit in that torture chamber, probably because that was close to the backstage to make our entry easier). Oh and we were wearing polyester kurtas which are bad for summer season. They make you warm. In my knowledge there have been very few instances which have tested my patience more than this. I had to sit with all that make up and bladder on my head for a couple of hours. I finally got onto the stage and this time luckily everything was flawless. I went back home and told mom all of this and she was in splits. It still leaves her in splits.

I later participated in a couple of more skits and plays with a little bit of dialogues this time around. And then came the opportunity I was looking for, a lead role. The script was about a husband who has a very dominating wife and he always lands in trouble with her or something of that sort, I barely remember. We practiced extensively for that. I was probably in the 9th grade by then. And there was a moment in the play right in the beginning where the husband asks the wife to find him a glue tube to seal an envelope or something, and the wife hurls the tube at him, which he’s supposed to catch. Since the scene was within the first 5 minutes of the play, I was a little nervous still. I generally take a few minutes to warm up and ward off the stage fear. The initial minutes are a little nervous after which I dive in and play it out well. But this was the beginning and in the nervous energy I fumbled and dropped the stick of glue my ‘wife’ threw at me. That left the crowd in splits because it really helped the character get it’s image right early on. And I didn’t realize it until later when we’d won the first place and one of the judges mentioned this while explaining the decision. We’d won a competition where I was the lead role. I still beam at that achievement. It’s one of the few things I was good at, and had I known they teach acting as a degree in colleges I’d have gone for it rather than studying computers.

I later also acted and directed in a play in my undergrad school where there was a moment I blacked out half  way into the play and I was supposed to abuse the character standing in front of me. The dialogue went something like “Shut up you Idiot!” and I blanked out staring at my friend, not knowing what to say next. He realised I’d blanked out, and so he says in a not so hushed voice “Shut up! “, and I go “Shut up you Idiot!” with both of us barely able to contain our laughter on the stage. Gulping the laugh we carried on and of course that remained a story in the group for a while.

I think it’s the realism of a theatre act and mishaps and cover ups like these which attract me so much to the art. The energy of looking at the audience’s eyes and talk to them directly. To be able to look at a distance and say something, to be able to throw your voice, to interact with someone else on a stage for real, to choreograph, to understand a character, to live another’s life and to be perfect at that moment of deliverance without second takes.

I wish to go back and write a few plays and act in a few as well, and probably learn the art academically.

Drink up…

Nostalgia

I just happened to check my Facebook and an old friend had sent me a page to be liked. She has developed a game on Android. I asked “What if I don’t like your page?“.

“Do it for old times’ sake dude.” she said. I smiled and said.. “You mean, for the times we caught dragonflies?” And after a pause comes “Oh… those dragonflies! What good old memories!”.. I smiled..

As a  kid of 5 or so I would go to school in the school bus and would return in the afternoon. This friend of mine also returned at the exact same time. So we both would get down from our respective buses, high five and start walking back home. There would be lots of dragonflies on the grass by the side of the road. We’d stop and get into the stealth mode and slowly sit down on the grass keeping our eyes fixed on the dragonfly. One swift sweep of the hands and there you have it in your hands. A blue dragon fly in one hand, a green one in the other and we’d walk back home slowly. Many a times she’d catch a couple for me. I wasn’t too good at it initially but she was a pro. Her hands moved so fast. I was almost in awe of her skill. We’d make the dragonfly lift a little twig and observe it fiddle with the twig. About 20-30 steps later we’d be home and we’d set them free.

Those walks where we discussed dragonflies remains etched in my mind. And to revisit them 20 years hence with the person you spent those days is pure bliss. I think the fact that you find friends in unexpected ways is one extremely interesting aspect of life, also what sticks in your mind and what doesn’t.

Life is beautiful… So drink up…!!!

Day 28 ~ Only pictures

Pictures…

I really couldn’t think of so pictures which left a lasting memory. Pictures of events or concerning events. None from my life at least.

I thought I’d post pictures of events that left a lasting impression in my mind. Here are a few.

India’s Triumph in Cricket World Cup 2011. : Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been watching cricket and every single world cup we participated in, there used to be huge ad campaigns motivating the team to go and win the tournament and every single time we had one or the other weak link and we’d come back dejected. This time however it was a wild run! I remember watching the match sitting in Chennai with my parents and when Dhoni hit that six, me and mom both had tears in our eyes. And I just said “Finally, we did it!”. From what I’d heard, people were on the streets in Delhi and Mumbai. Millions on the streets with car stereos blaring songs and people dancing and rejoicing. It was one evening when the whole country was celebrating. We have festivals but each one belongs to a religion and so not ALL people celebrate any of the festivals. This however was a unified celebration!!!

2011-world-cup-champions2

Sachin Tendulkar’s 200 : Another force within the larger force of cricket, on which every single Indian stands on the same viewpoint is Sachin Tendulkar. He is probably the one most loved son of India.. unparalleled. I haven’t come across a single Indian, not one, who isn’t a fan of this man. When he was close to hitting a double century somewhere in his 180s, people in offices accross the country stopped working and ran to the cafeterias. I ran too once he reached 186, his previous highest. And then began the struggle to get to the 200 mark. Slowly he made it to 197 and then there were just 3 balls to go with the captain on strike. And the crowd booed Dhoni’s six and 4 that came off that over because it didn’t matter what India scored anymore. When Sachin came on strike the air was tense as never before. It’s amazing, the amount of silence that a group of 100, twenty and thirty year olds can generate, while in a cafeteria. You could actually hear a pin drop when the bowl was being balled. And then he just directed the ball and dashed for the non-striker’s end. The crowd erupted, with it erupted every cafeteria in India’s companies, every crowd that had gathered around TV screens any and everywhere. This was a moment of triumph. Of firsts.. and it was pure joy!

Sachin Tendulkar

 

Qutubuddin Ansari pleading the mob to spare his family during the Godhra Carnage. :

I’ll never forget this image. I remember seeing this image in the newspaper when all of this was taking place in our country. I was in std 10 and I was suddenly into the news big time and reading the newspaper was something I used to look forward to. I remember a chill going down my spine when I saw this image. It was the most shameful incident this country has ever witnessed, where the country stood quietly and watched processions of bodies going to the grave on TV and  newspapers and none of us bothered to look inside ourselves and question if we were okay with that humanity that was dying within us as we went to offices, had our lunches and laughed on small jokes and got back home and slept a sound sleep while mobs of hundreds were slaughtering people in huge numbers in a part of our country for no fault of theirs. For just one reason, God. A creation of man, that has left more misery in this world than peace and happiness.

images

 

 

The Tank man  and this video of his.

Heroes are born out of ordinary people. This video speaks all. And this image is inspiring. One man against an army and his defiance coming out of the belief of him being right, and he actually being right! (not like the ones who live in their rarified bubble, like Hitler and the likes)

Tiananmen-Square-Massacre

 

 

I’m not sure this is as intense as the other images especially in the order in which I’ve taken you, but this image stands clear in my mind because I had a CD of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album which I flicked from my cousin brother and it had  a small booklet with this as the cover image. Michael Jackson was my hero as I was growing up. As was with most of the kids in the 80s and 90s. He embodied the definition of an artistic genius with such beautiful music and dance that just left the world spellbound. I grew up listening to Thriller and Bad. And his music lifts me up even today. I cannot get his songs off my playlist ever. I cried the day I heard of his demise. I don’t care what he was accused of, he did as much for the Black community as Oprah, Malcolm X and the likes did. And he’ll be my hero always.

 

michael-jackson-dancing-leather-shoes-1

 

By the by..

Day 23 ~ Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you

Hi teachers… Here are my 2 cents..!!!

  • Irrespective of what you score in your exams, you have to still face the challenges life throws at you and deal with it and be yourself.
  • Failures are a stepping stone and it’s okay to fail, that it’s not the end of the road.
  • It’s okay to get bad grades, because you’re an individual and while you may not know math, science or social studies, you have some gift which is unique to you and you’d rather spend nurturing that than heeding to what people and your parents want you to do.
  • It’s good to but not necessary to fall in love once.
  • You should be wise is choosing who your friends are coz like my mother always said “Friends can make you or break you!”. And you should never let them down.
  • That school is about fun, enjoyment, merriment.. It’s about the teenage love, chocolates, junk food, video games, TV, games, creativity.
  • That it’s good to question.
  • That you must develop principles which will never betray you in life. That even criminals live by principles. And a man without principles is no man.
  • That history must be read to understand our legacy and not get marks. To understand what a wonderful world we’ve come to create and what mistakes we must not commit, instead of justifying those mistakes.

The list couldn’t end but I need to end the post and call it a day.

Drink up me hearties.. it’s Freeday!! 🙂

Day 18 ~ Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

I just read the title and went back to my childhood. Two images flashed by my eyes and I’m going to go with one of them.

While in the longer run if I’d think harder, this wouldn’t be one of the moments that was more defining, it still did have a good feeling about it.

We were teenagers back then, rather in our early teens. We used to play cricket every evening in the huge field behind our apartments.

There were two groups which used to play in the same field. Once, we got together and decided that the two groups / teams will have a sort of a tournament. A 3 game tournament to see who’s better. And so it began. The first match started and we won the toss and chose to bat first. I am an average player when it comes to cricket. I’m more of a hook-it, if you hit wonderful, if you don’t wait for the next ball or get back to the pavilion. I was a better bowler than a batsman. But not as pathetic as I make it sound either. So essentially I wasn’t among the openers in the game. I came on the field generally after a couple or more people were off it and made whatever I  could of the opportunity and went back home.

So the game started, and as you must’ve already guessed, we were in a bad state when I entered the pitch. We continued to be in a bad state after I entered the pitch too, but I was still on the crease. People at the other end were falling to loose balls, catches and bowl outs. We had amassed around 60 runs when everyone except me were out and back in the pavilion warming their bums.

I was now left alone at the crease (which is generally not the rule in cricket, but we’d tweaked it to our benefit before the match started). So here I was, a mediocre batsman with everyone jeering for me, and the last batsman of them team.

I was backing myself up every single ball. I knew that the moment I let even an ounce of doubt in my mind about the next ball and how i’d face it, I’d be on my way out. I kept scoring runs, hitting ground shots and running safely. I played through the evening until the end of play and we were pushed to continuing it the next day.

The next day I came in and was in top confidence. I’d thought of it through the night and the day at school. The day started and I was playing great in the same touch as the last evening. Playing beautiful shots timing it to perfection. I’ve never felt better in my life hence, at the batting crease. There was one moment where the ball was pitched short, juicy and a lollypop. I lofted the ball towards the boundary in the hope of scoring the max, a six. I looked at the boundary to see a man standing there waiting to catch it. My heart was in my mouth and I can still see that scene in front of my eyes. He was on the square leg position, standing right on the edge of the boundary and the ball was coming at his head’s height. He dropped it!

The whole team stood up in joy! Elation!

I backed myself up again and continued to play. I never got out in that match. Played till the opposition had bowled all the stipulated 20 overs. Sadly I never kept a score of how much I scored. But I must’ve scored a century is what others speculated considering how much we’d scored in total and how soon the rest had fallen!

We won the match by a good margin, bowling the opposition out well within the total.

I needn’t say how satisfying it was since it’s still fresh in my mind almost 13 -15 yrs later. But I was proud of myself for having done something a little unexpected and to the joy of the team in a winning cause.

That’s the story my friend… !

By the By