In a self-referential moment, Ms Saraf complains about her limited part, and is promptly cast as Punnu, but it would seem that Sassi remains a giggly damsel in distress for perpetuity. But this is meta theatre that works. The play makes several such nods to female empowerment, which sometimes smacks of tokenism. But it is also a good thing because semi-mainstream Hindi theatre is notoriously wedded to the status quo.
These are not pathetic clowns with great sad eyes or little dawdling duck-like movements, working up a lather of emotion for the whole dichotomy of a clown’s existence, ever ready to shoot upwards into bathos. No, we don’t have crying clowns here. Bonhomie is the creed. No circus clowns either, with large red noses or flying trapeze acts. They are not fleet-footed except when engaging in repartee.
An interview with Quasar Thakore Padamsee, in which the director talks about his latest work with Aadyam — a production of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children
You’ve added the tag line, Everybody Loves a Good War. The irony seems almost self-explanatory.
Toral (Shah) suggested it (It’s a reference to P Sainath’s book). I think it’s something the play does. It talks about the so-called benefits of war, the madness of it, and how everyone is looking to survive. If you actually take a look at it, all fascist agencies ‘love a good war’, because it breeds nationalism, and economically it simulates industry in many ways.
These little pockets of urban desolation include many women, but Notes on Chai is not in essence a gender-piece (to follow a current trend in Indian theatre). Here, human follies take centrestage rather than the baggage of male privilege or the spectre of feminine victimhood.
The play concerns itself with the breakdown of language and discourse, and how a herd mentality appears to be emphasized in communities online, stringing together a series of set-pieces that are little more than non-sequiturs, and flit in and out of the vacuous preoccupations of India’s post-millenials.
Mallika Taneja’s Thoda Dhyaan Se is set to be performed at Mumbai’s Sitara Studio on Mar 10, as part of a special programme commemorating International Women’s Day. Last year, she completed a seven-show whirlwind tour in September. Here are some glimpses from those outings.
An archival interview with Namit Das, in which the actor-singer of the Mumbai stage looks back at his musical legacy.
What are your earliest memories of music?
My earliest memories take me back to Mahim, to the house where we used to stay, Makrand Seh Niwas. It was the first house we had shifted into, as paying guests, when my father (ghazal singer Chandan Dass) arrived in Mumbai. Everything took place with the sea as a backdrop — my father’s riyaaz, my trying to mimic him on the ‘baby harmonium’ that my mother (Yamini Dass) had bought me.