The Prithvi Festival’s
tagline this year is – Kala Desh Ki Seva Mein [Art in the service of the nation]. It’s quite an interesting tagline. How can art serve the nation?
– I suppose art holds a mirror to society, and often tells us what we have become – sometimes criticising, and sometimes celebrating humanity.
– Art helps us reflect on, and influence our responses to the world we live in.
– I suppose art does provide employment too (though I doubt that that is the import of the tagline)
– Art certainly helps unite cultures, and helps us understand each other. We live in a world that is fragmented more than ever before by religion, terrorism, and war. Art is the underlying common thread across civilizations that helps us appreciate a ghazal, a classical raga, and hip hop at the same time.
– Art speaks an honest voice, uncluttered by rhetoric, political correctness, and cheap tittilation.
– Art helps us get away from our constructed urban realities, from the mundaneness of making a living, and gets us closer to humanity – ourselves.
I guess it was a good tagline to pick after all!
On Friday, I watched ‘Sufiana – Doppelganger‘, a play by Salim Ghouse (whom you may recognize as the voiceover on NDTV). The play centered around Mullah Nasiruddin – the sufi mystic cum jester, whose numerous escapades we have all read about as kids. The interesting thing though, is that while all those stories seemed to be structured like ‘jokes’, on a more careful analysis they reveal themselves to be much more than that, offering insights into the nature of reality, man’s search for meaning in life etc. The encoding of profound truths in unlikely metaphors is a common concept in sufi literature, and poetry.
This particular play though used the central structure common to a typcial Mullah Nasiruddin story, yet made it contemporary through references to the war in Iraq, WMD etc. The metaphors and underlying themes probably did not make sense to a lot of people sitting in the audience (Prithvi ), causing a few to leave midway through the performance.
The performances by Salim, and his wife (who plays his wife in the play too) were quite good, though nothing spectacular. On Saturday, Troubadour, another play centered around Sufism (this time, Rumi’s poetry) was staged. I missed this one though.
More on Salim Ghouse
Filed under Sufi, Theatre
Been addictively watching plays at Prithvi Theatre. Managed to catch a play called Evam Indrajit last night. Must say, its one of the better Indian plays that I have watched. It tells the story of 3 stereotypical modern day Indian youngsters and their mindless, random and circular lives (much like the most of us). The play (by Badal Sircar), supposedly an Indian classic, managed, to capture the Sisyphian concepts of absurdity and existential depression(?) quite well. The ending though was a bit of disappointment for a play whose tagline was “Your life in three acts.” While the play raised questions on such themes as the meaning and purpose of life, it failed to give many answers except “walk the road of life, regardless”.
Still, a decent play. Though originally written in the 60s, its been adapted quite deftly by the theatre group, which incidentally calls itself Evam. Catch it if you are in Mumbai. The play moves next to Bangalore. Here’s a more detailed review if you are interested.