The national drama festival concluded
recently in April and there were things that left me in thought. Deep, muddy thought.
Our team was up against Hansraj’s, who participated in good spirit. Four of them and twenty of us: yet their (other-worldly) levels of energy could put a jack rabbit to shame. While our team’s performance was very visual (graphic?) what with formations et al (the numbers helped our cause), Hansraj had a subtler approach to society, isolation and life. Acoustic guitaring and a mouth organ only added to the charm.
Both plays depicted rape; their manner of stage play and ours grabbed attention to the flea-mindedness that infests the city of temples.
During practice sessions, I’m told, everyone would rack their brains on how to ‘decently’ depict a woman being exploited in public (… in Bhubaneswar) when someone suggested the pair stand a small distance apart and emote aaaand it was shot down to cries of vulgarity and indecency, by 20 something college students who command the group. This is what I have heard; ultimately, a more ornate formation to symbolize the act was reached upon, but anyway.
Hansraj was pretty simple about it. The guy (there was only one) prowled about ravenously and as he found a girl helpless enough, he pounced on her, literally. As he was performing this, he had the presence of mind to fix the girl’s errant kurta straight as he continued to nuzzle his face into her neck.
Their performance was before ours, so we were part of the audience and all hearts must have ceased; our beloved founder sir happened to be seated along with the judges. Vulgarity? What vulgarity?
A noted figure’s grandson is expressing his creativity while us village fools, we look to slake our thirst for lecherousness in the name of acting, such hooligans.
Had this been some kid from my uni, you can bet your money on the RAF being commissioned in the campus.
We, by the way, were at our best from since we’d begun rehearsals. So… yay.
Three of the four (or was it five?) students acted in the theater competition too.
The theme of their act was memories, while the uni’s was copied from some acclaimed actor/scriptwriter’s. While the posh and forward-thinking Hansraj people changed faster than Flash for successive scenes, I’m pretty sure they didn’t scurry around for ‘separate’ rooms to change in, like anyone would with the available time and space. But a lead actress of ours takes great pride in narrating a particular conspiracy by the snobbish Delhi people she saw through.
The guy dropped his pants right in front of me! I’m sure she wished that happened.
She spoke of how low people can sink to distract others from their performances; that guy dropped his pants to distract her from her role and character and what not. All tactics to spoil my concentration.
Personally, their performances were enough ammo to make you burn, they did not need to resort to such silliness. I only nodded my head as she confessed her horror over dinner.
The next day, we had the chance to interact with Usha Ganguly a veteran dramatist based in Kolkata. She shared bits of history of Indian drama and various types, conducted warm ups and discussed the intimate relationship that dance and drama share.
In relation to the style my seniors have adapted and the show they had put up the previous day, she (thankfully) said that college drama should be more relevant, less complicated, more relate-able, realistic… Common sense to the rescue, yay!
Narrow minded, staid mentality is the reason why the arts are stunted here; at least as far as . They profess to promote cinema and debating and dance and what not, but only as long as the chief guests are within earshot. On any other given day, publicity and ‘technical events that promote academics’ assume priority. Such hypocrisy, such hypocrisy.
But then again, the funny thing with artsy things like painting, acting or singing is, you don’t need approval to embark on odysseys of your own. Maybe that allowance in the face of insecurity that threatens its form is what makes it beautiful.