Saturday, November 27, 2004

Mughal-E-Azam is in the news once more...44 years after its first screening. The colorized version of the movie has had audiences trooping theatres.The film was only partly in color when it was first released in August 1960. The production costs of the film were then rumored/estimated to be around Rs. 1 crore (10 million), at a time when a movie could be made at about 1/10th of that budget. Grandeur was its producer K. Asif's strength. It felt real nice to be watching in a Multiplex a classic movie such as this, which perhaps my parents might have watched as kids in a theatre standing in a queue to buy tickets!! Most of the lead artists and the producer are dead and gone--yet the name of the movie is enough to attract crowds!

'A work of art' is the only phrase to describe this historical whose grand palaces-and-fountains look has an epic sweep. High drama is what it is all about--backed by powerful dialgoues; mostly in chaste Urdu(much of it seriously went over my head!), lyrical beauty and musical excellence of Naushad. Add to this the presence of the ravishingly beautiful and evergreen Madhubala with the stunningly powerful performance of Prithivraj kapoor--the movie becomes little short of an epic! The story is based on the all too popular love story of Prince Salim and the Mughal Court danseuse Anarkali. The tenderness of the whole relationship; the innocence therein, the use of such media as a lotus floated over a stream of water to communicate love-letters---all this is the world of Instant messages, SMS-es and e-mails, where the hero or heroine is supposed to scream from atop roof tops or gyrate in the middle of traffic to proclaim their love for the other:-) What a welcome change this was!

K Asif's mastery over the medium is evident in the tense sequence where Akbar thunders into Salim's chambers and catches him with Anarkali. The director refrains from employing dialogue here. Anarkali faints in Salim's arms. In doing so, she breaks his string of pearls. The sound shatters the ominous silence. This has a far more devastating effect than any heated exchange!! And Akbar walks away in a huff!

The end is however poignant...after becoming Salim's 'wife' for one night, Anarkali surrenders after ensuring that her loved one slips into unconsciousness. Madhubala's stone-like countenance by this time is really disturbing. We wondered how, if the story was true, did Salim manage to get up the next morning to realise his beloved was no more and still reconcile with his father who had brought this misery on him!? How did he manage to maintain his calm? how did he end up becoming Emperor Jahangir and marry Noor jahan; whom history books say he loved more than his life:-)? Strange! Lot of googling on the life and times of Anarkali yielded precious little. The story of this unfortunate court dancer, if true, has been lost to posterity as much as she was lost to the world, since everyone thought she was buried in the wall. But the movie explains that Akbar actually took pity on her and ensured she escaped from a secret exit and lived a life of incognito ever come she never managed to meet Salim later? how come she didnt reappear when Akbar died? Interesting questions--to which history has no answer!

All said and done, a thoroughly enjoyable experience; though the poignancy with which the film closed out on Anarkali's fate and the blankness on her face left me a bit depressed for a while! The haunting tunes of "Mohe panghat pe nanda lal chhed gayo re" and the legendary "Pyaar Kiya tho darna kya"--both by the nightingale of Indian cinema Lata Mangeshkar and the awesome thumris by Ustad Bade Ghulam ali khan--'Shubh din aayo" and "Prem jogan ban gayi" are still ringing in my ears.....

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Death and proximity to it have always intrigued me, made me curious. It helps to encounter death and stare at it, straight in the eyes, many a time in life. For long, matters hitherto considered esoteric, that related to life and death have caught my attention; with this burning desire to unravel and demystify the abstruse.No doubt then that a chance wander round Fun Republic book store led me straight to this book titled ‘ Dialogue with Death- a Journey through Consciousness’ by Eknath Easwaran, an author I’ve heard a lot about, but never gotten lucky to read. I immediately picked the book and sat down through wee hours of the morning sifting through chapters. The book uses the famed story from the Kathopanishad of Nachiketa, the mythical Brahmin teenager who meets the Lord of Death and learns the secret of life from him, as the background to unravel many treasures. Nachiketa and Savitri are two mythological characters who have drawn me towards them like no one else has. The power behind someone or something mortal and corporeal challenging something that is infallible and destructive has too much of a magnetic pull.

From every microbe to the biggest, the brightest, the most intelligent, the most beautiful, the most sensuous, the most powerful, the richest—has to face one inescapable reality in life and that is death. How often can we even imagine ‘ourselves’ as a “body” lying on a pile of woods ready to be lit with (hopefully) some people around to shed tears on our ‘departure’! In the Mahabharat, the episode of the ‘Yaksha prashna’ is a poignant one; where the Lord of Death in the guise of a Yaksha asks Yudhistir what he thought was the most ridiculous and absurd thing in life and he replied that it was the fact that we all see millions and zillions of people and our loved ones around us dying, yet none of us ever feel we are going to join league. Reminds me of the allegory behind T.S. Elliot’s verse where he watches the crowds pass over London bridge- all faceless and nameless in the morning fog—coming from nowhere, going nowhere—and suddenly sees the passage from this world to the next. London disappears and he is Dante, standing at the edge of the river Styx on his way to the land of the dead. “So many! I had not thought death had undone so many”. Is it the same for us? We all know the answer, but seldom act as if we knew it! Well…People snigger at me at times when they see me indulging in such ‘trivialities’ and ‘banter’; but me being me, would care any less for people or their opinions about me or my interests!

I cant but help putting down—in parts--- the wonderful preface that Eknath has written to this book. “ Dialogue with Death is not really a book on death and dying. It is a book about life and living; what life is for, who we are as human beings, why we are here. Yet it is death that forces these questions on us. If we could live forever, there would be little urgency in finding answers. But the fact is that whatever our age or the status of our health, none of us has time to waste in learning what life is for! In this sense, then, death is a friend- not the clinical experience of dying, but the fact of our mortality. We begin to take life seriously when we take our death seriously. Otherwise as Thoreau said, we run the risk of discovering, when we come to die, that we never lived.

This is not a negative observation. It is completely positive, for it brings life into focus. Every moment is precious, each day should be full of meaning. Once we grasp this, we find there is no time to squander on anger or depression, no time for quarrelling with those we love.

In a biological sense, each of us is engaged continuously in a dialogue with death. The processes of life and death proceed together from the moment we are conceived. And of course, there comes a time when life begins to lose ground. At that point, as far as biology goes, we enter the second half of life, a losing battle in which most of us hope for little more than to slow the advance of time. The first part of life merely sets the stage for the drama we are born to play. this is the time for experimentation, when we play with life’s toys- money, pleasure, power, possessions, prestige- and learn for ourselves what they are worth. Many people never go beyond this phase. It is only when we throw away these toys and begin to search for answers to those essential questions- Who am I? Why am I here? What is life for?—that we really begin to live.

Death is only a door, and dying no more than a change of rooms. And I look on death as a friend, for it has taught me to live completely in the present, full of faith and free from fear…”

And I read on with an almost fanatic frenzy…each page is, trust me, an epic in itself!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The week that went by was one spent with quite a degree of nostalgia and reminiscing the days that went past. Over two days I was transported to two decades back in the past! It began first with a voice mail I got from nowhere…I almost let out a shriek when I heard the message. It was my friend from Cottons who works for Samsung in Korea. He had come down to Bangalore and wanted to meet up. And meet we did, the very next eve at Woody’s! Nilav Bose was always the gentleman of the batch and it was heartening to note that he continued to remain one! Time and tide and continents hadn’t changed him—he had just added on a few kilos and for the better! We spoke for nearly two hours till the waiters started giving us D-looks imploring us to vacate! But we didn’t care a damn- after all there was lots to catch up on…we’d been good friends right through ISC as we went through those turbulent years of uncertainty. A focused, intelligent, well-mannered, soft spoken and suave gentleman that he was (is); Bose was quite the pet of many a teachers in school. Most of them saw in him a potential future IIT-ian! But somehow things turned topsy turvy. JEE didn’t work out too well and nor did ISC give him much comfort. May be this didn’t go down too well with him and our pal just disappeared into his closet…I tried all I could to get in touch with him, but in vain. None seemed to know whats happening at his end. Some said he’d gone to Roorkee, someone else spoke of Jadhavpur…it was only now when I spoke to him that I realized he was at REC Durgapur doing his Mechanical Engineering and ever since in South Korea. It was truly a lovely evening to sit there in those ‘woody’ cabins and reminisce the friends and who-does-what-now, school, the changes that have come about, curse the princi, laugh at the teachers and their spoofs, my life, his life, lament on our singleton status…truly refreshing!

The very next day was the Aurobindo mini reunion we’d planned after days of dilly-dallying. Finally we met up at Café coffee day in Jayanagar. And a decent number of people actually turned up! It was last minute mails and sms-es that brought the lazy ones out of their shells. People I hadn’t met in some 10 years now—some whom I didn’t want to meet too –turned up. We had all brought old school snaps and albums and created a ruckus there trying to identify each other in their old school uniforms! Each of us had tread different paths in life, there was little similarity in the way most of us thought or the things we did in life. But the one common thread of shared experiences and alma mater is what bound us together that starry evening! Ranji came up with this wise suggestion of driving to Rachana’s place…and somehow most of us seemed to agree. Rachana’s been a friend for quite a few years now and is now a mother of a 4 month baby boy! We thought we should meet her son! It did seem a bit strange though to think of someone who grew with us as the mother of a kid now…but then, that’s indicative of the fact that life has moved on…things have changed…none of us can take any of the others for granted like we would do in school…cos we all have metamorphosed now into different human beings and have our responsibilities and priorities. The thought, while depressing, is a reality that needs to be faced head-on and accepted.

We then made our way to Vilas’s house; met his grandmom and Lavis. It was too much of nostalgia that struck me then…I was here exactly 2 years back and that was when Vilas was leaving for the US. It was such a strange, inexplicable feeling—I was happy for him, yet upset about his leaving, a certain sense of restlessness loomed large. We’d gone into one of the rooms and hugged each other and cried! Those images fleeted down memory lane…life has really moved on and therez so much catching up to do!

We wound up with one crazy ride near school shouting the principal’s name as the night skies peered down! The lady would have gotten a heart attack hearing hooligans screaming her name out in the middle of the night! Wonder why principals are always such hate objects!!!

The evening got over too quickly for comfort, with all of us left wanting for more time. But then it isn’t possible to live in the past forever…these are chapters of life that have had their epilogue long back…at best they can be given a cursory glance; but never re-lived! It would never be like what it was and that’s the fact of life---sooner the understood and accepted, the better!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

All languages seem to have this common refrain--'all good things come to an end", "chaar din ki chandani phir andheri raat"--why the hell? why cant good things last? as they didnt in my case:-) after a really refreshing 2 month stay at Bangalore amidst family, friends and loved ones; in a company that cared and respected me for whatever i am worth--im back to the jungle! Frankly speaking, ive been in quite a trance, dazed state...its still sinking in that ive gotten myself displaced and that the rut would continue with added gusto! Reminds me of a poem I'd written many years back during one such similarly mellow mood--years have passed, but the thoughts seem to remain the same!

The night was heavy and malignant;
Choked with emotions,
Even as we spoke…silently;
We did not need words as crutches-
The eyes conveyed all.
As night transformed into a glorious dawn,
We felt that in the hands of fate
We were a helpless pawn!
As wishes were made of non-existence,
Reality stared at us with persistence!
It was going to happen once again
A part of me was going to depart
Leaving me shattered and helpless.
As happiness is ephemeral
An isle in the vast ocean of despair
As gloom seemed all-pervasive;
In the air, the trees, the birds,
And…Our Eyes!
Even as the moments of departure drew near
There was a lump in the throat
Partly of sorrow, partly of fear
The felicitous smile had faded away
The ethereal eyes were a dam
That controlled the gushing torrents
-Even as we malingered smiles!
How many times would this sordid play repeat?
How many times would we be displaced?
I’m told it’s just a passing phase
Of that long journey- we call Life
But, even as the rickety bus evanesced
All I could do was
Look up to the skies-
Possibly, for an answer!

They say nothing is constant in life but for change...therez a diurnal change happening right from our cellular level; so what are we complaining about. But then a certain degree of stability in life is essential for any man's comfort. I mean, its left to individuals to weigh the same and trade off between what they want in their lives--a stable existence, may be sans a few materialistic opulences, but profuse with relationships and people who matter--or a totally displaced, globe trotting existence rowing through rivers of moolah, but none to share a tear or a smile! Its a tough call for anyone to take...but take they must. And as always, i find myself at the same crossroads, with the same confusion and the same misplaced priorities in life; just praying hard that some day i wouldnt have to regret(like i have in the past) for ignoring or leaving people who might be there today--but gone tomorrow, when i am all set to join them!What would i do then with the degrees accumulated, the riches earned? How much does it take to burn a pyre after all?

Man and Confusion are to me perennial bedfellows--right from the days of yore. Arjuna was confused as hell; he was lucky though to have someone guiding him through the maze. Not too sure if he actually benefitted himself out of the sermon that he was given..atleast in my case i can say, my charioteer is as confused, dismayed, dazed and clueless as i am :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

It was with a certain sense of disbelief that I caught up with the news this morning…it was around 10 days back that the Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Mutt was in Bangalore. My music teacher being quite a devoted follower took some of us –‘senior’ students to meet His Holiness. And we sang a few classical pieces to his delectation, even as the seer sat there with his eyes closed and raising his hand in appreciation each time the raga took an impressive turn. It felt so triumphant that day to be sitting in front of a person who is venerated as the veritable Pope of the Hindu community.

But in the uncertain times that we live in, the same seer has been put in prison on charges of murder in a manner that has been quite despicable and questionable. In a lighter vein, Ma commented that perhaps listening to me sing ended him in prison—hope that’s not true though:-)

I for one am no great follower or devotee. ‘God-men’ as a tribe is something that I have always abhorred, as I find it way too strange to be raising someone as human as me—with two eyes, two ears, one nose and as many shortcomings of anger, sorrow, passion and the like—to a pedestal of being Super-Human. But the issue here was once again that of our polity and the manner in which the system treats with utter disdain anything that is remotely related to the Hindus. An attempt similar to this, if done with the Muslim or Christian community leaders would have ensured that the government of the day was shouted down from roof tops as being communal and fascist. Not long ago, the entire nation was put in a compulsive mode of breast-beating on the alleged rape of nuns in some parts of India. The same vociferous groups seem to have gone into a shell when the tallest religious leader of the Hindus is treated like a petty criminal---lodged in an abominable prison, when all our political criminals of the likes of Laloo Yadav are given guesthouses or are house-arrested; and worse some of them are in government! There was absolutely no need to go across states to Andhra Pradesh and capture him in the middle of the night, make him wait for hours in the magistrate’s court, prevent him from meeting his counsel and ignore the plea that being an orthodox old man, his food habits were something that were dear to him!

It just goes to reiterate the strange times that we love in. people forget that India is what it is because it is predominantly Hindu. As much as we might speak about a melting pot of different streams, the predominant color is saffron and that lends to India its characteristic tolerance of all faiths and peoples. We see in different parts of India—be it Kashmir or the North east, when non-Hindu communities become the majority ones, the kind of atrocities that are meted out on the ‘non-believers’ there! Yet, all our ‘secular’ friends sit down with mouths shut and not a whimper or a whine! Its not the person in question here—if the charges are proved the Shankaracharya should be given the worst kind of punishment, doubly so because he would then be guilty of playing with people’s emotions and faith—but till that happens, the position that he is in, the tradition of the Mutt that had been put in place by Adi Shankara himself centuries back, needs to be sanctified and respected. Rome would burn if the pope were to be dragged out of the Midnight mass on Christmas eve and send to jail like any other common mafia goon of Italy! But since this is India with the ‘sab chaltha hai’ attitude, we don’t really mind too much that on Diwali which happens to be a big festival for the Hindus, their pontiff gets zeroed in!

Quite shameful indeed—even for agnostics like me!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Ok…I am totally zapped, flummoxed, amused and horrified as well right now…and before I forget this totally chaotic and unforgettable kinda experience, I thought I’d better put it down for posterity!
Wound up work a little early today and decided to take the 5:30 shuttle…it takes while till the entire array of buses arrive in procession there and we hop into our respective buses—half dazed, half dead. Today was no exception. Well, I don’t know how comfortable an experience it is when you are waiting for the bus and a woman walks up right in front and gives you one stony stare, measuring you lengthwise with her eyes and glancing looks at places where she’d jolly well not and winds it all up with a sly smile! Well well well. I looked back in disbelief, thinking it was someone else and as usual I had gotten my favorite kela! But NO…there was just a tree behind me and the old guard on his bidi…couldn’t have been either! Ok…I give a confused smile and look away…but the stony stare continues!

Then comes our bus and like always I enter first to catch the seat behind the driver to give my daddy-long legs some space to space itself. And the next minute I see this person sauntering right there. “is someone sitting here?”..”well, no” I say and she cozies herself up with a triumphant smile. Well, none of my concern…radio city is enough to accompany me on the short nap I treat myself to back home…wouldn’t care as much if Satan came and sat beside.

After a few minutes someone elbows me and offers a chewing gum. “No thanks, I don’t chew gum…its bad for health, you know!” and then we get talking
“ Oh is it? You are some major health freak is it?”
“No, I am not…but then why do something knowing pretty well that its not good”
“May be…but most often things we would love to do are the ones that are not good to do”
WHAT??? Whatever…yawn…sleep…

5 minutes pass…our bus gets stuck in the traffic jam on Hosur Road. I suddenly get up and see beside and the stony stare continues. I’ve never been this embarrassed in life before!
“ Hey are you from Delhi” ? she asks.
“Oh…you are so familiar…I thought we were colleagues in the Gurgaon office? You sure you not from there? “
(what the hell! How can I not be sure where I am from!) “ No…sorry…some mistaken identity…moreover I have a very very common and pedestrian looking face”.
“ (chuckle, chuckle) I don’t know, I’ve been trying to place you since so long….saw you in the cafetaria the other day…and smiled…thought you were the same”
(Oh yes…I remember that toothy smile a few days back!)..Hmmmm…”
“ok…I’m Raagini…you can call me Rags”
“Oh hi! Nice to meet you…I’m Vikram and I wouldn’t like you calling me Vicks. And Rags seems motley…Raagini is more musical!”
“Hehhehee…as you wish…Vicks is a nice suggestion though!!!”

Luckily in the middle, Rohit Murari calls me up from Hyderabad and I try to prolong my conversation with him as long as possible…but beyond a point its imposs, so he hangs up…as if someone was just waiting for that, pat came the words--
“Hey, I think I am falling off the seat…mind if I sat a bit closer?”
( Now now now? Whats this woman crazy?) comfortable…if you want I’ll move out to the seat next to the driver?”
“oh no no no….you be where you are”

Then the conversation sauntered along what I do, what she does, where I am from, where she is from, what you want to do next, how Bangalore traffic suxxx…how it wasn’t so even an year back….and the usual sweet nothings.
“where do you get down?” she asked
“ well, the next stop…Jayanagar”
And my much awaited stop arrives…I smile and try to make way to take leave….Just while I was doing that and was just about to get down, she says in a voice as loud as loud can get; much to the amazement of fellow passengers, the driver and of course ME-
“hey you know what? I think ive fallen in love with you…if you think the same, I give you time for the weekend to think about it…Bye!”

WHATTTTT????? Now what was that that hit me? I just stood still at the stop for a few seconds…as dazed, confused, flummoxed, starry-eyed as I am now…WAS SHE MAD? Good heavens…supersonic speed isn’t the word! Just couldn’t stop bursting out aloud…people passing by looked at me strangely…I walked back home—all the while laughing to myself and aloud in spells!

The Mumbai railway station incident and this one—the two strangest incidents which I’d perhaps never forget…Rags! I admire your boldness dudette!

It was me back in my misanthropist shell again…past week has been the usual retreat from people at large…one where I didn’t make any conscious efforts to call anyone up, chat up with someone—both virtually and in person—and maintained an overall low profile for whatever reason. This, till I met up Vinita day before yesterday. She knew something was ailing me and most often than not some of the best advises I have got in life have been courtesy her! It was more like a stroke of luck I thought, that I actually got to meet her when I needed this little dose of showdown. At the earliest opportunity that I got, I started off with my sob story…about how someone’s attitude pisses me off, how someone else makes my blood boil, how somebody else’s call I simply don’t want to attend to, how I feel so damn damn used all the time-‘ people only know taking things from me, but when it comes to giving they evanesce into thin air’---ooh the list was seemingly endless. Vini listened patiently…seemed to empathize and acknowledge all that I gibbered. At the end of it she told me to do this little exercise of writing the names of ten people (other than my parents) who mattered (or atleast I think matter at this point of time)—people about whom I’d like to talk or like to hear from. Against each name write say 5 things that the individual has done that has really touched my life in some tangible way or even a good word spoken at some point of time or a kind smile. And another column cataloguing the meanness, the instances that ticked me off completely; times when I wished I just didn’t know this person and how much better life would be in that case. Seemed like a cost-benefit analysis that I do at work—but since it came from her, I HAD to agree to do it!

I stayed up late the same night and actually did this exercise. First of all choosing the 10 names were by itself a tough call—though she’d told me that there was nothing sanctimonious about the number 10-could be 7 or 13 or anything preferably less than 15.( its like the top 10 funda of ranking colleges). Took quite some effort to actually fill in those grids. For some the pluses kept adding and for others the negatives. For some neither was forthcoming! And to think of it I still put these samples in my top 10 list!

Last evening when I showed Vinita the results of my labor, she seemed mighty impressed. We went case by case to each individual. She asked me to take an unbiased view of the manner in which each of these individuals had made some kind of impact and actually do a trade off with the list of negatives on the other grid. The other thing she told me was to analyze the negatives and actually see how many were truly justified in being named as such. Most often than not it was when X or Y or Z didn’t “listen’ to what I said or asked him/her to do that had earned them that extra black point. Are relationships only a master-slave kind where you ask someone to do something and failing which you think that that is the worst person you might have come across? Hmmm…worth pondering. Actually many of the negatives got scratched off. Yes, made me feel that these should have actually translated as my minuses rather than theirs—I was the one being unreasonable in making those kinds of demands! And in comparison to the pluses many of these simply looked too silly, too small to even consider! After this revision, did we still have people where the trade off tilted unfavorably? Yes, a couple of cases- three to be precise. Straight answer, simple solution—“Jerk them off!!! They aren’t worth it. Just scratch off their names from the paper…they don’t exist anymore…tell that to yourself each morning and you’ll see in a while they cease to exist or matter in your scheme of things”. Bingo! “But don’t trouble yourself and also the others in this sheet who matter, by doing what you are doing for the sake of people who don’t even exist!? That’s being unfair to them, isn’t it?” Yes ma’am, it surely is…this little exercise and that wonderful little talk you gave me on what goes in building and maintaining a relationship or a friendship; left me spell bound. Gave me a new meaning and perspective to things which I hitherto viewed through my narrow kaleidoscope.
Just after that session, I got back to doing what I am best at…yack for hours on the phone with all the people that I could think of 

Thanks Vini for always being there when I’m in doubt, for making me think out of the box… thanks for showing a new light!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

November 1st today…a day that’s celebrated down here as Karnataka Rajyotsava day—the reorganization and formation of the state of Karnataka from the mixture of sorts that it was at the Independence—integrating the three sub segments of Mysore, Hyderabad Karnataka and Bombay Karnataka which were under the Maharajas of Mysore, the Nizam and the Marathas respectively. More than 30 years have passed now and its more of a day of symbolism now—what with the month long jarring music and festivities in and around street corners!

My Rajyotsava day went on with quite a lot of ethnicity and ‘local flavor’ this time…what with a lunch at MTR this noon. Mavalli Tiffin rooms –a name that’s synonymous with the culture of Bangalore and its food freaks, one that strives to serve one of the most ethnic and hygienic varieties of South Indian cuisine; that attracts one and all to its dingy environs in Lalbagh Road (apart from the city’s celebrities, the former Chief Minister S M Krishna was a regular haunt at this place as he caught on some hot idlis and masala dosas after a morning walk!) –has always been a pleasant addiction. The quantity and quality of delicacies that one gets there for a measly 75 bucks is something that needs to be experienced to be believed. You are served so much that the end of it most people walk out tottering!

The evening was made all the more delectable with a LIVE professional Yakshagana performance that I went to. It was a performance by the Keremane troupe of the famed Shambhu Hegde and his son Shivananda Hegde. A folk art of this state that encompasses in its folds music, dance, drama and rich poetry. It was an excerpt from the Mahabharath that the troupe enacted- the one of ‘Subhadra Kalyana’-the abduction and marriage of Krishna’s sister Subhadra by Arjuna. The elaborate costumes, the make up of the artists, the dazzling headgears, the jewelry, the beating of the drums and cymbals and the high pitched accompanying music makes it a complete and thoroughly enjoyable experience.

As I watched the performance for more than 3 hours without even realizing that I was in there for so long, it amazed me how such art forms have continued to exist in this country. Yakshagana is but one example of a survived and surviving folk art. The numerous others that our country can boast of- be it the Langas, Manganiyars and Kalbeliyas of Rajasthan (their uninhibited voice seems to cut across the skies!), the Purulia Chhau and the Bauls of Bengal, Pandavani of Madhya Pradesh, Harikatha in Andhra, Mayurbhanj Chhau and Gotipua of Orissa, Theyyam, Koodiattam and Ottan Tullal of Kerala—the list is endless. Each of these seemingly rustic art forms have in their fold a certain smell of the lands they come from—its like the smell of the sand on the first drops of rain on a hot sunny afternoon. They literally represent the joys and sorrows, dreams and aspirations, apprehensions and celebrations of the species whom everyone talks about but conveniently forgets- the common man! And a lot of India’s “common” folk being rural residents, these art forms bring with them the distinctly rural touch and rusticity along with them—one that the polished classical forms don’t seem to have! Yet another commonality in these forms was the fact that struck me this evening- about India and Indians’ amazing flirtation and interest in story-telling. All of these forms are usually stories—mainly from epics and mythology—that are narrated over an all-night session to the masses. It beings to the fore India’s obsession with tales and the many manifestations of the same.

The performance today was a brilliant catharsis that brought about many aspects in its fold—from wry humor to pot shots taken at the present circumstances laced with subtle sarcasm---the lyrical, musical and theatrical brilliance of the whole thing struck me with a thud! The ease with which the characters delivered seemingly long and complicated dialogues lacing it up with some excellent body language was truly amazing. Somewhere the desire made root that I must try all that is in my control to ensure that these chaps get a wider audience across the country.

By the time the lazy me has gotten down to publish this post, there already seems to have been some success on that resolve!