Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bombay Talkies - A successful experiment

Presented by The Orchid Room Experiment, the first thing that struck me about the play is its name, 'Bombay Talkies'; it is not 'Mumbai Talkies'. In renaming Madras, Calcutta and Bombay, we have lost so much that is intangible! Chennai surely doesn't evoke the same degree of emotion as Madras does...

In this era where we get glued to reality television to get our daily dose of reality, (as if it is in short supply in our lives) we seldom have the courage to look at ourselves in the mirror. We are scared of the face the mirror conjures, for it is at odds with the one we put on for the world. As long as this dichotomy exists, monologues will be appreciated. A monologue is akin to a person thinking out loud, confronting himself in the mirror and laying open his soul. Bombay Talkies is eight monologues – “Uncensored moments of eight mumbaikars” - stitched together in a little more than 90 minutes.

Baby Dimple –

Played by Rasika, this is about a glorious past fading into an ordinary present and what looks like a bleak future. The once famous child actress, unable to come to terms with the changing ethos that conflicts with her self-professed values, begins to shed them as the lights dim.

Ideas –

In this monologue, the character played by Ishitta - A fountain of ideas - is caught between her own independence and the approval of her husband. As she talks of her painting – a maze of high rises and cable lines - she also reveals how the city is so dense and intricate…Beautifully imagined, this monologue is a simple and lovable sketch and my personal favorite.

Seven tiles –

Of lost childhoods and the agonies of growing up in an atmosphere of pseudo-conservatism, this is very powerfully enacted by Viraf. Where Kamasutra and Khajuraho are taboo, child sexual abuse is rampant. Beginning with humor, this one morphs slowly into an agonizing account of tarnished innocence.

No Tension –

Darshan is the typical agent and plays the character with such conviction that one begins to wonder if he has been an agent in his real life too. Loud, humorous, vulnerable, humane, vile and crude, he has the audience eating out of his hands.

Wonderland –

A cynical news reporter begins to introspect in this story. She slowly sees all around her, the genuine goodness of the human spirit as her travels in and around the city brings her into contact with people of different classes. The people she encounters defy all conventional conjectures…

Shobhit Patel –

This one takes the cake after Ideas. Namit is adorable as the classic Patel waiting for his American visa in a long queue. The moment forces him to examine his past with all its flaws. His friend’s – Manoj Bacardi – exploits with girls, the dandiya nights and his extended family’s yearning for all things back home, this is my second favorite.

Relationship Status –

The number of single mothers in urban India is on the rise. Financially independent, intelligent, assertive, the lives of these women is scrutinized harshly by a hypocritical society. The grind of daily lives without an emotional shoulder to rest on – Anahita does complete justice to this story.

The uprising –

I must confess that I could not understand the sense of gravity that Zafar in this last monologue seemed to evoke. The chorus chanting was also lost on me. Perhaps, a small explanation after the performance might have helped…

Kudos to the entire cast and Vikram Kapadia for a theatre experience that made us think, laugh and also question entrenched stereotypes. It is a beautiful sketch…go, catch it if you have a chance!

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