Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A ramble for plays

Alas, this is the only photo I have of Prithvi Cafe.
Took it during  the Carnival earlier this year. Photo/ Afsha Khan

Man, it’s been so long since I’ve been to a theatre. I think the last play I watched was this quirky number called Nostalgia Brand Chewing Gum, which was performed by this troupe from Bangalore.

The play’s protagonist Adil is so intellectual he’s actually stupid. His ex-girlfriend Natasha is quite content with a job that makes her unhappy because… well, who is really happy these days? Her current shag happens to be Adil’s ex-room mate, Bob who is a stereotypical brawn-over-brains happy-go-lucky chump. And they all meet for a dinner from the most awkward realms of reality that is doomed to be a disaster, something you see coming five minutes into Adil’s opening soliloquy. 

I remember huffing and puffing into Prithvi Theatre that day only to realise that I was an hour early for the show. Good thing too, because I got to spend the next 45 minutes hanging out in the café, marvelling at the farce called Prithvi’s Famous Irish Coffee (or something to that effect).

But their Irish is irrelevant in the larger scheme of things, especially when you think about the community built around the place -- the bearded guy playing the flute, the banter of theatre folk discussing new ideas, the aspirants hoping to catch the right eyes and the book shop that stocks a decent collection of plays in print. All these factors go a long way in lending their hues to the passion with which the entire community functions.

As for the actual theatre, what made me makes me appreciate it more than contemporary cinema is the creativity it employs to explore themes ranging from love and loss to death and politics. It’s like their writers come up with an idea and then construct it into a 360 degree experience you’re bound to remember for reasons both good and bad.

Of course, with budgets being what they are, elaborate sets are hard to come by which is why most of the plays we see here are minimalist and experimental in nature. This can, after a while, make you run for the cinema halls where the world may be in two, maximum three dimensions, but at least it’s packed with a range of “mind-blasting” effects.

But at the end of the day, I’m rarely faithful to a cinema hall. They’re all franchises anyway, no? PVR in Juhu and PVR in Phoenix… same difference. But Prithvi is Prithvi. Small. Intimate. Sometimes very cold and uncomfortable. But irreplaceable nonetheless.

It has been a while since I’ve been to watch a play…

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