Dose. Overdose.

May began in the last week of April, when my vacations did. I am now in a bit of a rewind mode because I watched a whole lot of shit before I left to holiday happily in other lands and now that I am back, I have no memory of which play/ movie happened when. And I need to have chronology more than anything in my life right now. I find that I am aging, and aging quite badly.

So the string of doing things started on the last day of valuation when I hopped into TBC with the girls and discovered that beer can do the same thing that rum can. Possibly worse. A week before this, I wrote a longish piece on my experience with caste for a journal. While it is always easier to write personal essays than academic ones, this one took quite a lot from me. When I reread it now, I don’t understand what it took from me.

The next day, I watched Yashogathe which left me in love with the house it was shot in. Later N and I met to write. She wrote her first piece of memoir, which I drooled all over, and I tried writing and rewriting the review for Yashogathe. In the evening, I was at Rangashankara watching Avaru bittu ivaru bittu ivaru yaaru and Sanchayana. I remembered Kalagangotri Kitti from Beechi House and throughout Sanchayana, I looked only at him and waited for him to speak.

Watching Kannada plays has come to mean something more lately. It reminds me of the time I was first brought to the city. I go back to all the mosaic floored houses in Bangalore that we rented when we first arrived. The one in Kathriguppe with its cement terrace and the backyard washing stone. The packet of yummies and sticks of tamarind paste that we ate while walking back home from school everyday.

The language brings back faint memories of watching Parvati, Mayamruga and Muktha with my grandmother. In effect, Rangashankara and Kala Soudha have become spaces where I am forced to focus – on watching and on writing.

The next couple of days were insane — It occurred to me on the eighth day of NSD’s Dakshina Bharatha Rangotsava that I had missed 8 days. So I went to Gurunanak Bhavan to catch the 500th show of Mukhyamantri Chandru. I had to leave in the middle because my head was all fuzzy and I started to hyperventilate.

Next morning, I rode to Forum where I watched Mother’s day and then after a serious round of Old Monk in the evening, I floated to Gurunanak Bhavan again to catch the last of the NSD festival – a Malayalam play called Charithra pusthakathil ekkuoredu (The Abandoned)

Chakravyuha happened the next morning. And as surprised as I was by how much I liked Puneet Rajkumar, I was swayed by how much I missed watching Kannada films. Writing the review for Chakravyuha was more learning and less writing. I was so taken with my own response to the film that I didn’t quite think of anybody’s interest in it.

After bouts of eating, sleeping and daydreaming, I watched two Malayalam films-Leela and Kali. While I didn’t quite care for Kali, Leela made me think of Marquez and the thin copy of No One Writes to the Colonel that I haven’t gone back to. A prime BIFFES catch this year was Gabo – the documentary by Justin Webster. Marquez says here that more than One Hundred Years of Solitude, it was No One Writes to the Colonel that was difficult to write and one he considers his best work. Although there was nothing particularly Marquez-like in Leela, I giggled when the hero says Sulquer Dalman and Marcia Garquez.

Vikram Kumar’s 24 was refreshing. Not only was I seeing a Suriya film after ages, I was also watching a Tamizh sci-fi after a really long time. I should have quietly gone back home and written about the film, instead I went to Rangashankara to catch Shylock. Anish Victor playing Shylock gave me goosebumps. So many adaptations of The Merchant of Venice but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with an OCD prone Shylock. 

Anish Victor takes Shylock’s language and puts it in every little thing he does on stage. It’s in the way he shuffles papers until they are kept in the perfect square position, in the way he handles objects with attention – pen, knife, paper, phone, and in the way he says ‘moneys’ instead of ‘money’

That should have been all. Shylock would have been the best way to end my theatre spree before I took off to Manali. But I had to go watch 1920 London. I don’t know why. Ask my brother.

Thankfully after I returned, Sairat was waiting. Last evening, I waded through the rain from Chinlung’s to Garuda and sat in Inox’ plush red seat, fully drenched.

I forgot the rain, I forgot the wet undergarments, I forgot how cold I was. Because in its first 15 minutes, Sairat had me by my freezing cold balls. If there’s anything that has made me want to write in a long time – especially after spending a week with my madcap family, it is Sairat.

Here is a song from Sairat that has been giving me a 16 year old girl’s hormones –

The Bicycle Thieves


Kala Soudha seemed prettier than usual last evening. It had been raining and the air smelled sweet. When I parked in a hurry and climbed up the steps, I saw that there was nobody outside. Vowing to leave 2 hours before every play I watch for the rest of my life, I entered the theatre and was greeted with a cold AC smell. After grabbing the first empty seat I saw, I wondered if Kala Soudha always had an AC.

After an hour and a half, I was on my way home, trying to keep up with the many images of what I had seen. There are so many things about The Bicycle Thieves that are pleasing to eyes and ears, all the same. I hate to hurry here but the story always gets in between how it is told, so I am going to get it out of the way. An unemployed man must deal with the thrill of finally having secured a job and the misery of having lost his bicycle, both on the same day. He must encounter the many faces of the city and must encounter them with his little son, in his search for the cycle.

At the corner stage stood an inverted cycle tyre. On the wall were thrown the characters’ shadows. This was accompanied by people miming sounds loudly. An approaching, silent creak for the closing/opening of the door; an ornate machine sound for when the factory workers are at work; and the elaborate anti-clock rotation of the cycle chain for when the cycle is stolen in broad daylight.

As a child, I didn’t like it when characters onscreen/ onstage forgot to acknowledge an object after they had brought it to the audience’ notice. A cap, a pen, a prop left there to deal with all eyes in the room on it, long after its owner had left the stage, until someone is sent to retrieve it.

In one scene, the father-son duo sits and spits on their misery. In a moment’s notice, they have both stood up. My eyes immediately went to the discarded tiffin box that lay next to them. I was wondering if it’s going to lie there, orphaned for the rest of its life, when I almost whopped in surprise as I watched the son point to it matter-of-factly and take it with him.

Every time the Urdu-kannada was used, my ears strained to drown out the audience’s laughter. I knew I would laugh but I wanted to hear the words first. It’s oddly beautiful to listen to that dialect. The Urdu falls about and bounces off the Kannada, and emerges into something one taps foot and folds arms to.

After having watched The Bet, Beechi house, and The Bicycle Thieves, I have come to realize that I enjoy watching Kannada plays more than English plays. I like the swiftness in the actors’ language, their familiarity when they speak to each other or look at each other and their references to the city. Everytime I watch a Kannada play, I feel closer to the city in some way.