Friday, December 17, 2004

from india: on the events of december 11, 2004

JR draws first blood with most of the details. I remember the "sudden right" so JR probably lost his magic touch on directions by the time he got down to putting his thoughts to electrons.

And now for the minor detail at Sujata (a familiar haunt for Mastani fans). We enter and take our seats at a table. Nothing seems to have changed. I don't remember the prices, although JR and BVHK assure me that things haven't changed significantly (or at all!). Our server approaches with the no-nonsense i-don't-believe-in-all-that-sham-about-sycophantic-procedure silent sullen look. He dumps three glasses of water onto the table. We tell him what we want. He leaves. We chat. He returns to take away our glasses of water before trumping down three Mastanis. Yep. Stop right there and wonder why he did that. Also noted was the reduction in the amount of Mastani served. All gripes aside, this is still a great place to chill (purely for content; if you want ambience, try the Gadgil Bridge).

A short stop at Pankaj (now credit-card-aware) with my piece of sliced plastic in tow, and I walk out with a medium cache of musical goodies. The place displays a simple and no-frills organisation, which in retrospect I found the most appealing of the music stores I visited -- the clutter of the old stores, although a nice touch for the eventual joy of discovering something rare, is sometimes an annoyance, especially when you keep ending up with blackened fingers. The billing system needs to move to an electronic equivalent, and it would be good to get rid of pen-and-paper for the cataloguing. Still, this place manages to get a thumbs-up for overall appeal as a music store [the classical music section is a favourite among friends, I am told].

And the final stop of the evening was Sudarshan Hall ["suddenly" near the Ahilyabai Girls School] for a staging of Final Draft by Girish Joshi (a COEP expat, a great creative influence and good friend). I have had the pleasure of catching only one of GJ's previous plays, Abhinetri starring Vandana Gupte (a good ice-breaker when I walked up to speak to her after a performance in naandaa saukhyabhare in Atlanta in the summer of 2001). This one was not only scripted by Girish, but enjoyed his directorial and acting inputs as well with able support from the only other player, Mukta Barve. The control and projection in the performances was remarkable. The plot was nothing unfamiliar: a screenwriting teacher finds himself a saddled with the challenging task of motivating a student who seems to be grappling with a lot in life. The underlying threads that strengthen the plot hinge on the fundamental trade-off between art and commerce. Given Girish's current work, the play even seems to take on an autobiographical tone. There was lots of Yanni in the background cues. And I loved the terminal piece of lighting direction. All in all, a great way to begin the brief hiatus back home.

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