Sunday, February 16, 2014

[Play Review] Under the Chestnut Tree I sold you, you sold me



Set in the dystopian world where color is banned for artist, Debutant play Under the Chestnut Tree by Allmytea products, offers a very unique rebellion from normal trends. The play promises a very strong setting by putting in three powerful characters in a confined space. 
Sidoscope review**
Under the chestnut tree opens with a cracking radio informing the repressive state that punishes playwrights and artists for showing obscene content and tax evasion. It also talks of the sodomy law being tabled in the parliament setting up the context that this is perhaps a dystopian version of a democratic farce.

What really ticks in this play is not the idea of rebellian but stalwarts performances by the actors and powerful characters and dialogues by Akash Mohimen and Siddhart Kumar. The story unfolds very beautifully in showing the complexities of the characters life as well as their entanglement with their inner evils. The quirky at times but serious sibling rivalry between the lead Osman (Prashant Prakash) and Captain L (Siddharth Kumar), the power struggle between Captain L and Eve (Shweta Tripathi) and finally the fierce competition between Eve and Osman fueled by a powerful backstory offers the balancing climax.
The performances are equally balanced and the clever use of theatre space as well as smart direction makes this play a visual treat to watch. Finally, the ending is a bit predictable but it is really not the ending but the way the play unfolds is worth a watch.

Under the chestnut tree premiered at the Jagriti Theatre New Writing Festival in Whilefield, bangalore. Follow their facebook page for upcoming shows in your city.


**Sidoscope verdict is based on the following Sidoscore scale. All opinion is personal and honest.




Thursday, February 13, 2014

How banning books is pushing us back by a century

From time to time nowadays certain people choose to start a one sided debate against me over my views. I won't go to the length of calling these voices as an organized effort by a political outfit or a group like those high class ignorant journalist. No, these people are passionate and true believers about their political leader, spiritual leader or religious leader. I don't deny making a provoking statement so that one of these start a debate on Twitter, the intention is not malicious, mind you, because debate improves knowledge, progresses society.

Journalism was once a profession that welcomed debate, nowadays it is imposing views between commercial breaks. But bashing journalist is not the point of this post (I just do it for fun), the point of the blog is this people are afraid of change. People are afraid of things that change and will go to any length to prevent it from happening.

On the eve of Penguin rekindled the age old battle between creative liberties and milking those by selling the books by banning the book by Wendy Doniger, here are my two paisa. First, for those busy reading about the plastic surgery by Anuska Sharma and nothing else here is what happened-

Wendy Doniger has spend over 40 years researching, translating and commenting hindu scriptures and stories. She is a distinguished professor at the Divinity School in Chicago, with a PhD from Harvard and DPhil from Oxford. But all these academic and professional experience do not matter much today because, today, she is being targeted for being a Jewist American Scholar who wrote about Hinduism. The book in question has blasphemous ideas including the cover of the book which has naked woman forming a carriage of Krishna. The idea of the book starts with traditional male-bashing and Brahmin-bashing (a past time activity, I also indulge). Obviously, the true believers of Hinduism felt threatened and found their faith shaken. They protested and raised multiple court cases against the book. Penguin did what every publisher choses to do, take the easy road out. It promised to burn down the remaining copies of the book.

True Believers rejoice, for their faith is intact, there are no challengers. But should they? History has told us that only debate and intellectually challenges have helped us evolve further. You could pick up a book, read it, dismiss it and write a counterpart. Denying that the book exists and burning it down is not a healthy sign for a society to progress.

One fine day a friend of mine arrived at my doorsteps unannounced (that is rude and borderline invasive but he is my friend) "They are ruining our culture man."
"Who are?" I asked knowing the answer was going to ruin my Sunday.
"The americans man," he said simply, "Today they have proposed a anti-superstitious bill that challenges most of the ancient practices in Hindu temples man. I tell you they are going to invade us again."
"But I did not know anti-superstitious bill proposed banning of praying in Temples. I thought it had to do with Black Magic, human sacrifices and other magical remedies."
"Yes, yes but don't you see these are part of our tradition for more than 5000 years," he said highly agitated, "How can you stop our culture man? And they don't stop christian religious practices do they?"
"Actually not true, there are many black magic rituals including witch hunt and exorcism are stopped in western countries. But I don't see the relation here, this law is actually empowering the hindu religion by weeding out all the malpractices, I do not see how bad it is."
"You are influenced by those american witch doctors and their phony science. Ayurveda is a real branch of medicine and we have our own science of our own."
"Yes we do and prominent scientist like Aryabhatta, Aurobindo and many prominent scientist in India over ages are against superstitious practices."
"Who?" the final question put in a final nail in his ideology.

When external forces try to penetrate your exterior you panic and you revolt against them. People call it revolution but it is really not a revolution, it is a last desperate attempt to stay relevant. Here is the thing we all miss, change is constant, so is resistant to change. People have been resistant to change for a million years now, we hear about people revolting against Krishna when he asked them to worship Govardhan instead of Indra. People resisted when idealist proposed stopping the child marriage. Just like social media gave power to the revolutionaries, they also gave steroids for true believes. Hence the outrage that is seen globally.

"You should join us in protesting against the false jailing of our favorite Godman," he twitted to me the other day.
"Why would I do that?" I tweeted back.
"Because you are a hindu and you should support this encroachment against Hinduism." he protested back.
I shared him the link to my previous article about baba bashing.
After what was 10 sec, he replied, "oh I see you are anyways against Hinduism"
I politely send me the link to my book (which is 5 awesome Hindu stories handpicked and rewritten with a bonus story from thai Ramayana)
"I don't understand you. You are such a great follower of Hinduism why won't you support our agitation?"
Do you know why I won't support the agitation? It is the sane reason I support the book by Wendy Dongier about Hinduism although I oppose a lot of her views in the book.

The reason being: if you have to ask the reason, it's not worth it.

The times are changing, the world is changing. The weight of this change is to be borne by all or this civilization will not survive. Rome was not build in a day but it did bury under the debris of change in a day.

Debate is essential for the civilization to progress, debate is essential for country to grow. Banning of books, films or any thing that opposes the mainstream view is the favorite past time of the country. You can build bridges, you can build buildings and you can build smart cities but you will always be a developing country until you ban this notion of banning things.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blog in the Times of Traffic


There is a inherent believe in the common public that during peak hours the horn of your vehicle magically transforms into a device that will make the traffic in front of your disappear. I find no other explanation of why people honk their horns waiting for traffic. Bangalore traffic is no different to this myth. When you live in Bangalore for more than year you don't know why you are paying so much rent when 3/4th of your day is spend in traffic jam.
On the lazy tuesday morning it took me exactly 2.58 hours to cover a distance of twelve kms giving a rise to a number of things. First, I took nice power nap in the middle of the road for almost fifteen minutes as the traffic would not move. Second, I did many phone calls to random people in my phone list giving rise to some shocking, surprising and some serious stories that cannot be shared publicly. Third, popped an idea in my mind about a blog post on traffic woes we see in India.
It thus happened, I was designated driver to pick up a presumptuous pompous Indian-Born-American-living-and-believing-himself-to-be-a-foreigner friend who returned to India after six months. As we drove around, exactly 96 secs of unable to control himself he started, 
"Those americans are so particular about their traffic. They will never break a single traffic red light," he started which is a generally acceptable form of conversation starter.
"How was your stay there, you had good food," I said politely changing the topic because I knew where it was heading.
"Food was a big challenge, these americans eat holy cow, can you believe that?" I can, "I could not find decent food there. Thats why I asked my mother to make a nice dal-chawal today."
At this moment we had reached an intersection which was completely deserted. I decently stopped the vehicle for the red light.
"Arey nobody is here," he exclaimed to my surprise, "Run over the red light, I need to eat that dal-chawal hot." He went ahead to talk about his returned from america stories, I simply wished he had returned with something more than stories. I did not run the red light.
There are people who take pride in doing things others should feel ashamed off. Spoke one rickshaw driver offering me a premium fare for breaking traffic rules, "If I go with the traffic, it will be fifteen bucks but twenty bucks and Ill go via the one-way and help you reach faster."

They say parking is a common problem in Bangalore but the old madras road is a very common parking lot with lots of vehicles parked for hours. During this period you actually feel the world has stopped and want some peace and quiet. You are contemplating the choices made by you in entire life, that has transitioned your journey to this point. You plunge into a nostalgic moment remembering those who were left behind in the journey of life and at that moment... a very deadly horn barks at your ears by a very bored bus driver. Apparently, honking horn is a favorite past-time of bored drivers.

Taking about past-times, in India the training for dare-devil stunts is taught on the streets. While it is normally accepted that footpaths are meant for riding a motor-cycle or using it for hawkers, it was a slightly surprising to see bikes climb over a girder lying on the footpath (which is the proof of the country that 'manufactures' worlds largest engineering population but that is for other day). Not one but total seven riders attempted this daredevil stunt back to back and got stuck over that girder.

It offered a very nice entertainment for almost twenty minutes to see every biker attempt the jump and failing miserably. You get to learn new things sometimes you learn spanish while staying stuck in traffic, other times you get entertained by listening to Kannada songs on the radio (and no I do understand Kannada, its just fun to listen to them), sometimes you can read your book standing in while, while once a while you can publish an entire blog post waiting for the signal to turn red.

Because life is all about moving ahead. Life is moving. The traffic poorly not so much.





Sunday, February 2, 2014

But Women Need to Be Empowered Too

After Mr. Bharathi of the AAP fame decided to raid a so-called African drug party in kirkee, the residents cheered. After all these Africans were walking around wearing short dresses and "ruining" the "sanskar" on their boys.

Of course it was the personal agenda of law minister cum Batman had to take matter in his own hands. The police are again in league with the corrupt members of parliament. He is the minister we deserve not the minister we need and all that. Ofcourse the superman without underpants or the one man army against corruption is not far left behind. While Mr. Kejriwal the honorable chief minister of Delhi had to run away from his own junta durbar due to errant public, he found his strength in doing a protest against the central government.

A wise man once said With great powers comes great responsibility but these words are wasted on the crusaders against corruption as they go on stage with a list of people who are corrupt with no proof attached. Neither did they think it was wise to approach the police with proof of corruption against these politicians, because obviously, there is no aam aadmi police force yet, so the remaining cops are corrupt and in league with these politicians.

While corruption is a major disease corrupting the roots of this glorious nation, populist policies and bad governance are not very far behind. Heard of a doctor who insisted in curing the cancer but refused to give medicine for common cold?

One of the biggest common cold this country is suffering from is giving subsidiaries, freebies and food securities to people below poverty line. The politicians make very sentimental statement about how every man should have a morsel before going to sleep and all that. The only problem is, most of these politicians keep their money safely in swiss accounts and people like me work for almost half the day to just fulfill their ambitions.

India is suffering from the dynasty politics by one family for over six decades. Oddly the one man who is against dynasty is the next hier to this dynasty. Oddly enough I thought the interview of Rahul Gandhi was the high point of my week but surprisingly, there was someone who could beat that interview easily.

I am talking about Dr. Asha Mirge, a gynecologist from Akola and currently member of Maharashtra woman's commission and also a wonder woman in her part time explained the entire concept of self defense. "Girls should be careful about what they wear. They should mind the time of their moving out. Girls' body language should not be such that it invites attention of a potential rapist lurking around" was her super formula to save every girl. Obviously, the rapist are known to follow the timings and they definitely do not rape anyone wearing full clothes. There are no rapes happening in middle eastern countries, haven't they made burqa for that... which is working fine for last hundreds of years.

But we have to empower woman, Rahul Gandhi spoke about woman empowerment for 23 times during the interview with Arnab Goswami. Should we expect some full clothes security bill for girls named after some Gandhi family member that will provide gowns and burqa (because this post is secular you see) for woman in this country in the days to come?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

[Play Review] Love during office hours- Internal Affairs

Sidoscope Verdict**
There was a time when love stories meant prolong exchange of letters (some using pigeons just to add glamor) and running around the trees. Love inspired movies would not reach the part of bedroom till the very end and sometimes not even beyond that. Not with Sid and Rhea, whose love is served fast food style. When new joinee Sid and Rhea go on a date 'fixed' by the common friend they end up in a one night stand.

Adhir Bhat and Bobby Nagra are clever writers who go into the history of what happened a week before their fateful night. Rhea definition of an ideal man is "neither a rapist, nor a serial killer and definitely not a boy from Delhi". Sid always wonders, "Why are girls always like this". Directed by the rom-com director Adhaar Khurana, and adopted from the scottish play 'My Romantic History' by Daniel C Jackson, Internal affairs brings you the confusion, characterization and charisma of the modern youth and the modern work on weekdays, party on weekends attitude.

Two senior actors Hussain Dala and Shiksha Talsania (Lakshmi from Wake up Sid) support the lead actors with their versatile, witty and clever punches throughout the play. The lead protagonist played by Priyanshu Patel (Sid) and Shriya Pilgaonkar (Rhea) bring the joy of office affairs very beautifully on stage.

It is a must watch and a welcome break for audience who get dragged into the mindless parade of senseless stories people like to call the cinema.

Where: Canvas Laugh Factory: Palladium Mall

When: Feb 15-16

Tickets: BookMyShow

** Sidoscope Verdict based on the following SidoScore









Have you read my book yet?

Have you read my book yet?
An epic adventure across space and time