Words Have Been Uttered
Directed by Sunil Shanbag
Written by Sunil Shanbag, Sapan Soren, Irawati Karnik
@Prithvi on 31 Dec 2018 from 20-22hrs
Today I finally got to watch first play directed by Sunil Shanbag at Prithvi - a late night show - before I retired into my room in Sun-n-Sand hotel after a hectic day.
Multi linguistic, multi media, multi geographical ... multi faceted performance
Two hours of power packed play - with 10 mins of break - takes the audience through a thought provoking journey with collection of narratives, poems, folk songs, and scientific dialogues. Sunil Shanbag, part of Tamasha theatre, introduces the play with a word that weaves and summarises the play - 'dissent'. He suggest dissenting, or having an opinion that is not mainstream idea, has been an integral part of society. A reason why so many social, political and cultural changes have emerged over so many generations. Dissent is an important part and a big reason for good democracy.
The performance uses diverse audio-visual mediums such as powerpoint, live music and songs that would touch and move you. The long list of materials used in two hours (see photo below) includes a folk song Landays (see photo below) from Afghanistan sung by girls and women. Then, use of Bhakti poems translated in English, Hindi, humorous narration of Ismat Chughtai's narration of Lahore court case tried in early 1940s, and Galileo arguing with Copernicus .. the performance criss crossed across geographical areas, gender, communities and centuries with diverse language use - Punjabi, Afghani, Urdu, Hindi, English..
An excerpt from Marathi play Ambedkar viruddha Gandhi, Bob Dylan's The Times They are Changing, heartwarming satirical song/poem about the land eviction affecting adivasis/ tribals benefitting corporates, reading Dear Democracy and Jashn-e-Ghalib with emotions and beautiful voices of Priyanka Charan and Nachiket Devasthali were power packed reminder that dissent matters!
Synopsis of Script - Sharing with the Audience
At the end for the play rarely you'd see the director and artists distributing collection of performance - it was a surprisingly beautiful gesture to see dozens of photocopied book with some of the narratives from the play being distributed among audience. I'd upload five snapshots from the book (see above).
Nothing can be as memorable as to see the hard work of the curators being shared with a wider audience!
A highly recommended play - don't miss it and feel free to dissent but do 'listen' first.
Creative Commons to the core and I love such work of artists :-)
Next play in January 2019
Next week i.e. January 9th 2019 I'll be watching another play, titled Deewar and written by Prithviraj Kapoor, is directed by Sunil Shanbag, which was premiered at the 40th anniversary of Prithvi festival. I missed most of the events due to my film screening events in Scandinavia.
The only play I could catch during the festival was Jam by Harkaat studio, which I've reviewed here in Culture Call.
I won't be reviewing Deewar - you can read this review here via The Telegraph's review.
Tuesday evening @Prithvi Theatre: Two Events
Urdu Mehfil - 19:00 to 20:45 hr - a panel dialogue in English/Hindi/Hindustani/Urdu by Danish Husain's Hoshruba Repertory
The Truth - 21:00 to 22:40 hr - a play in English by Naseeruddin Shah's Motley troupe
Bombay à la nuit
The play ended at 10:40 pm . All my attempts to get Ola/ Uber to reach D N Nagar Metro failed.
It's 11 pm and me still standing on Juhu Tara road. There is no chance to get the last Karjat fast local. Finally at 11:15 pm I get a shared Ola to drop me at Ghatkopar station, but not before dropping the other shared passengers and picking up another lady from International airport.
At Ghatkopar, I'm the only woman at the railway platform waiting for last Ambernath local expected at 12:28 am. It would take me another one hour to reach station .. then finding an auto-rickshaw to reach apartment. Of course, my brother remotely kept checking on me from another city via WhatsApp till I arrived home at 1:45 am.
The Ola shared taxi driver - I'd kept him engaged in a discussion like any Sociologists. He was happily sharing all his frustrations about no outcome of Ola/Uber strike(s) and why lack of political empathy of Maharastra government's intervention is hurting taxi driver's problems. The Railway police (RPF) guard in his early twenties, on duty, had only me as his companion in the ladies compartment Ambernath local train. The young auto-rickshaw driver at the railway station immediately recognised me - the lady who occasionally arrives late night and gives him an extra tip - a dual rarity in a place like Ambernath.
Three hours travel from Juhu to reach apartment to cuddle with Felixé Muezza, the kitten. All in all, six hours of to & fro travel for 180 min event worth it! I'd used travel time to write my quick n dirty reflection of a lovely Tuesday evening.
In 2017 I'd watched Motley troupe's play 'The Father' at NCPA Experimental. I can watch it again and again if Naseeruddin Shah remains the main protagonist! Le Père (The Father in french) and La Vérité (The Truth) is penned by Florian Zeller. Florian is one of France's contemporary playwrights and has also written a novel - La Fascination du Pire (The fascination of Evil) which was selected for Goulimard and created nice controversy.
My French course teacher in Montepellier had asked to read this book in 2005. I have not yet read it.. Anyways, coming back to Florian Zeller the magic he creates in his playwright I think directly reflects in the success of plays. The Father brings out amazingly the world of dementia and Naseeruddin Shah did an amazing work as André, the protagonist just like his fantastic co-partner Ratna Pathak Shah played the role of his daughter.
The Truth, keeps audience confounding through out 90 min performance. Once again both Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah along with Shruti Vyas and Gaurav Sharma holds audience's breath spinning out emotions. I am unable to place this play into one water-tight genre - its not entirely comedy - it smoothly bring out the nuances of lies through the different meanings and contexts of what is truth and for whom. In brief, how comfortable are we with truths and human instinct to get angry with truths - this and more gets untangled in this play. The script's magic has been wonderfully turned into a beautiful performance with production design. The single set becomes diverse locales with constant change of sets and props without any glitches... credit goes to the amazing background team for creating a beautiful ambience taking audience through imaginations and into the world of protagonists.
A must watch play - highly recommended.
URDU MEHFIL (check out more detail about Urdu Mehfil in my November 2018 blog)
As I'd mentioned in earlier blog my knowledge of Urdu literature is next to zero. Therefore, Urdu Mehfil is an excellent place for a novice like me to fill up that gap nicely.
Today's 90 mins of mehfil was the best I could've asked.
Each of the panelists - Jameed Gulrays and Danish Husain, and the Urdu scholar Lakshman Sapre nicely moderated this event on satire and humour in Urdu literature.
Jameed Gulrays shared the nice trajectory of how satire and humour has been introduced in Urdu literature and read out interesting pieces from Urdu poets and playwrights.
Lakshman Sapre ensured that the discussion takes the shape moving between what we understand as satire and humour and its take by Urdu as a language.
Danish Husain kept the humour level high and shared interesting analysis of how the term satire and humour emerges and the way famous Urdu literature scholars use humour - i.e. done by breaking a pattern of rhythmic the thinking of audience by taking them as a surprise. He narrated few dialogues of Ibn-e-Insha's play that he had adapted, directed and played 'Urdu ki akahri kitab '. Although I've seen his play but soon realised that hearing the dialogues again - I'd missed so much of the context. Another Urdu reading by Danish that touched me was Manto's essay/ take on Ashok Kumar's directorial film Aath Din (Eight days) - humour embedded in Manto's writing was so hilarious to hear.
I really wish this mehfil was video and audio recorded - such a superb event that you wish to re-look and hear it again. This would be my suggestion for future events - if not streaming live at least video recording and uploading in social media would help not only to document such wonderful event(s) which other wise is inaccessible to many, but also create a better understanding of what to expect in Urdu Mehfil's monthly (second Tuesday) event.
The next Urdu Mehfil i.e. Tuesday, 8th January, 2019, if I grasped correctly, will be dedicated to Fahmida Riaz (1946-2018). For those who don't her, just like I didn't knew about her.... she is regarded as a feminist progressive writer - a poet, fiction writer, but also brought new standards in Urdu literature movement.
My next Culture Call picks for this month are:
a) Films - 16mm Film Festival weekend - 15 and 16 December at Harkat Studio
b) Dance - Madhavi Mudgal and Vaibhav Arekar - 16 December NCPA
I've to drop out because I'm going for above 16 mm festival. Interested? Do get the ticket from me for free!
c) Dance - Mallika Sarabhai and Geeta Chandran - 21 December at NCPA
d) Play - Words have been uttered by Tamaasha Theatre - 31 December at Prithvi Theatre