Wednesday, February 16, 2005

We have this group of amateur actors and actresses in college called 'GASP'- Guild of Actors at SP Jain...a fairly talented group of young men and women, who despite the gruelling schedules of B schools manage to put up this annual production, after a month or so of painstaking efforts. Last year was a fabulous presentation of Girish Karnad's much acclaimed 'Tughlaq' on the ramblings of a directionless monarch. This evening, we were treated to Mahesh Dattani's 'Final Solutions'.

The acting was fantabulous by almost everyone out there and i really wondered how they got the time to memorize those long dialogues...or as musicians like us do, do they also improvise on stage? But then the script i must say, was pathetically weak. It belittled the superb acting and the immesne efforts these chaps had put in for over 30 days. Mahesh Dattani, with all due respect to him, isnt someone whom i consider can build a taut plot...be it Morning Raga or Dance like a man or today---Final Solutions.

Its all too easy to fall into cliches and stereotypes when one discusses an issue as complex as communalism...what is tough is to hit the nail straight on the head. The Hindu-Muslim divide has too much historicity attached to it, too much legacy for anyone's comfort. Its all too nice to take the politically correct 'secularist' route and have one conspiring pandit and maulvi trying to poison a bunch of hitherto peace loving Hindu and Muslim "brethren" who lived as though they were children born of the same mother...wish things were that simple in life! Somewhere down the Hindu psyche, more so in North India which has borne the direct brunt of the Islamic invaders for so many years, the concept of Islam remains one of a warring religion. The edicts of the Quran with direct references to slay non-believers (Kafirs, as they are called), the manner in which millions of temples have been raised in the past--its all to easy to brush it up with white secular paint! but deep within, the rot exists, even in the most liberal of minds. And therez so little effort on either side to bridge this gap as well...

Ok, i might have rightist leanings, but consider this---the recent cause of holocaust in India--the Ayodhya issue...the mosque that stood at the place was not even soemthing that Muslims had been using since about independence. And it wasnt something as sacred and holy as the Kaaba, that relocating it to a different place wouldve made much difference. In fact in Muslim countries like Saudi, mosques have been trampled for simple reasons as expanding roads!! Here, if the Hindu community for whatever reason, felt that thats where their hero was born and a temple that existed there was razed by a barbaric invader; whats wrong in re-locating the mosque a few yards away--that too a mosque that was in disuse!? the Hindus couldve helped in the relocation and the Muslims helped the Hindus in constructing their temple...wouldnt that be a better thing to do than squabble like cats and dogs? The oft-repeated "Islam is in danger" thingy comes in to rattle common Muslims and the Ulemas just use it to their advantage.

None of our secularist friends bother to inform us as to why after 58 years, the Muslim society stills remains so insular and unprogressive. Why is it that they've not reaped the benefits of economic boom? Why are still the laws of the Ulema, the Fatwas, the Shariat considered sacrosanct as over the Civilian law that the Constitution binds us all to? hindu society has transformed so much over the centuries...Sati, Untouchability and the like have been banned by law...reservations are opening the gates for a vast section of oppressed (or atleast the efforts are beign made)--but we still continue to have Triple Talaq and the kindz which even Muslim countires have abolished!! Strange! Our films, literature and playrights go hammer and tongs when they condemn Hindu society for inequity...Premchand could write a million Godan like novels on Dalit oppression...why havent any of these people bothered to even write a line about the condition of Muslim society, the lack of education, the threat of the fatwas that hangs on their hands all the time, the appalling condition of their women??? taslima nasrin tries to do soemthign to the effect and our secular Indian Govt bans the book! Applause!!

It was not some RSS pracharak but Gandhiji himself, in Young India, who had opined that the Sword is too prevalent among the Muslims and unless that is unsheathed, the unity of the country would be seriously dented. And how could this unsheathing be done?? By breaking the insular walls of that society..by helping them truly, to come to the mainstream...open the doors of modern education to young boys and girls who are herded in Madrasas under militant Maulvis who teach them lessons in Jehad. Education is the key to all problems that India faces and the Muslim society is screaming for help in this regard...but NO...secularism of the kinds that we have prevents us from doing anything concrete, than mere lip service.

I was thinking if Dattani might address these issues in his play...but sadly, they were not to be...its too naieve an attempt to pitch a criminal who has stirred a riot against a middleclass Gujrati housewife cuaght up in her rigmarole of customs and rituals...and actually compare the two...i mean how can anyone compare apples and oranges!!? Or for that matter an 80 year old woman with her understandable set of cultivated biases and prejudices.

As much as i hated the plot and the weak script that tottered down like a pack of cards, i was amazed by the brilliant acting that unfolded on stage. Hats off to the GASP team for their brilliant efforts in putting together this act, out of a loose script of a much hyped up playwright!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ok…I have been really unkind with my blog and terribly generous to my readers by not posting anything out here in quite some time. The entire placement hullabaloo and the contentment at getting what I wanted (ok…for those whom I haven’t yet informed- I got placed in GE which was my ‘dream company’- as they say in B skool parlance!) kept me woefully occupied in pursuits other than blogging. It also gave me a lot of time to check out on others’ blogs. And to my surprise I found that almost every human being I know seems to have a blog of his or her own. And I don’t know why, the name ‘Random’ seems to be a common one in most of them! It’s really phenomenal to see the manner in which people have been getting rapidly addicted to the blog-syndrome. I was just talking to a friend of mine about what in her view constituted this burning desire in people to document stuff and put it up out there on the big bad web? Like all things in life, there are good, bad and average blogs out there…some blogs talk of profound things (rare ones to find though!), some are way too witty and humorous, some are pathetically boring (like mine for example!)…therez one community blog I am part of called the Bitsian bloggers--- a site where all old students sit and rave and rant about their alma mater (it’s a different thing that while they and we were there all we did was crib about the place and its inadequacies, now in retrospect its always nice to go on a nostalgia trip and feel that milk and honey flew in those barren desert sands!)…but then the majority of blogs are run-of-the-mill; as in people set out to document every minute detail of their diurnal existences. When they woke up, why they used the tooth paste that they used, how the old toothbrush hurt the gums, why the breakfast wasn’t as appealing as the previous day’s, whom all they met and floored in the course of the day—every brick, every mortar touched with finesse! The ‘randomness’ continues to cover all the incidents, till the protagonist dropped down dead on bed after a hard day’s slogging and how the bed bugs woke him/her up to a new morning…and then the cycle continues!

Ok…I know I am a cynical bastard, but then I am also appalled and amazed by the vagaries of human behavior. Why on earth would one want to showcase all this seemingly ‘different’ stuff that we do each day…and more so, why on earth do others read it? What amazed me were some 20-25 odd comments that followed such posts! “Amazing post dude, keep it up” kinds! Baffling! My friend opined that perhaps the manner in which our social lives are getting constricted by the pressures of modern living, puts in us this burning desire to find a tell-all companion. We feel its easier to talk to our lifeless monitors and exchange e-comments with people whom we perhaps haven’t met in life. There seems to be a huge logical disconnect between what some of these chaps are in reality and the image they portray of themselves in their blogs! As in, totally reticent, laconic, unsociable and here, presto! We have some party hopping, garrulous person who has this urge to be seen as the ever peppy, ever chilled out, ‘reallllllllly cool’ human beings—perhaps this is what makes us feel even simple things that we are do are something that the world should look up to with awe! Someone therefore asked me one day –‘Why are some of your blogs so full of pain, it seems like therez lot to hide and tonnes to read between those lines’? well yes, who said life doesn’t give one pains, may be in varying degrees to different people; but every living organism does go through some cyclical processes of pain. To beat that, may be some of us write about it and bring it out of our system for good…while others cloak and bury this forever with the guise of the cheerful, peppy metrosexual dude! Entirely left to our discretion!

All said and done, its so nice to see this collective oozing out of Indian ‘creativity’ in the field of writing skills. Its so nice to see that almost everyone of us blog-regulars think, quite confidently, that we are as good as Vikram Seths and Jhumpa Lahiris when it comes to writing! Long live the pen—oops, the keyboard!