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Thursday, March 30, 2000

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Word is Out

Theatre seems to be perking up again after a fairly dull run.

With the exception of Jesus Christ Superstar, Mumbaikars had norelease of quality for several months. It took the Nasseeruddin Shah-PareshRawal Khel to change all that and now, all of a sudden, the arclights appearbrighter.

True-life Drama
Last weekend saw the opening of Lillete Dubey's Siren City. StarringKitu Gidwani, Jayant Kripalani, Mohan Kapoor and Vani Tripathi, the200-minute play actually received a standing ovation, even though it did notopen to a full house. The play revolves around a couple that comes to Mumbaifrom Delhi and try to balance the critically-acclaimed with the commerciallysuccessful. Kripalani as the playwright is candid about the fact that thestory is very similar to his own. On stage after an eight-year hiatus,Kripalani was last seen in Vikram Kapadia's Tughlaq where again he stole theshow. It was also good to see Gidwani in a role of substance, a refreshingbreak from the Swabhimaan type of roles she seems to prefer ontelevision.

It is almost easy to forget that at one time this talented actress workedwith and wowed directors like Govind Nihalani. To see her true mettle, checkout Rajan Khosa's Dance With The Wind (unfortunately, this film has neverhad a commercial release in India and screenings have been limited only tovenues like the NCPA) and Deepa Mehta's 1947 Earth. It seemed to us thatboth protagonists were so good on stage because the story struck a chord.Vani Tripathi, a talented stage and television actress, was also good butthe person to watch out for was Neha Dubey. In a fine debut performancepreviously she has worked in Dolly Thakore's son Quasar's play, but thosehave been more of an amateur nature the young actress seems to have provedthat talent is inherited. Anyone who has seen Lillete in Dance Like A Manand Muggy Nights In Mumbai would say `Amen' to that.

Spirit Dance
Just as we were beginning to appreciate the silence, Prithvi theatre eruptedwith a din. The prolific playwright Makrand Deshpande had conned people intothinking he was hibernating, but in actuality, he was churning out yetanother tract. His latest "masterpiece" titled Jawan Trambak is a "hopeful"story, to say the least. To say more would mean delving into Deshpande'strademark abstract-obtuse thought process and that would be P2C2E -- aprocess too complicated to explain, to borrow from Salman Rushdie's Haroun &A Sea Of Stories. What we can do instead is let you in to the plot. Thestory runs somewhat like this: A good-for-nothing trambak (spirit) fromRanipur, a lotus eater, has misspent his life sleeping under a peepaltree.

One night, the native spirits of the tree call him "the chosen one", becauseof which, the panchayat threatens him. He is angry at the spirits fordisturbing his insignificant existence. The miserable trambak is then leftwith no option but to fulfil his mother's dream to get married. Through thesupport of his wife and hidden luck, he finds himself turn into a Historian.The spirits are happy as well as sad to find the trambak turn into History.Okay, so if you figure out what it means, tell us. The release gives a handyhint: "The play is a satire on existence of hope in the times of doom."

With Nandu Madhav and Mona Ambegaonkar, among others, in the cast, all wehope is that this play entertains like the bulk of Deshpande's works from EkKadam Aage, Meena Kumari, Chitra to the more recent Laila. Opening atPrithvi, this Friday, we are certain the audience will lurch out full ofquestions on existentialism, like why some writers exist.

Art Online
This one is for the mouse potato. If you are a lover of Indian art andheritage but are too busy to go to galleries or live away from India andwant to acquire some art, turn to the Internet. To be more specific, justlog onto and up comes an art site that offers aone-stop solution to owning art. And it seems to work.

In eight months, the site has had over two lakh hits because the site doesnot limit itself large, expensive canvases by big names. Instead, it focuseson the unique nature of Indian heritage by taking visitors through thefascinating journey of India's art history. Which is why for its first everexhibition it decided to display the prints of Raja Ravi Varma. While thepioneer print-maker of India published thousands of wonderful oleographs inthe late 19th and early 20th century, and his prints of Indian gods andgoddesses adorn millions of Indian homes, today it is almost impossible toget an original print. Indiaartmart managed to source works from all overIndia and has sold them to buyers all over the world.

Now, Indiaartmart unveils a new look with easier navigability. There are newitems and categories on the `for sale' section with bargains galore fromexquisite miniatures to emerging artists, the site also plans to launch aphotography show celebrating Indian heritage. The brainchild of AlmonaBhatia, media marketing professional, art lover and collector, her focus ison making art "accessible to everyone, everywhere". A Delhi-based set-up,the site has been nominated in the `What's New' section on Yahoo and wasrecently chosen by Absolute Arts, the premier world art portal as theirweekly favourite.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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