A Sinister flight! Poem by Aneeta Chitale

Birds afraid to come down
Birds over the sinister city

I was a happy bird….with great
Wings to fly …thousands of miles
In open skies…..in cloudy pallets
I flew in seamless oceans
Across the seven seas and
Five continents….in peace!
I knew I was the best chosen
By The Creator….God! Almighty!

I flew in all directions….untill
One day, me and my friends
flew to Wuhun…..China.

The land of plenty
The stuff the make..’.made in China!’
I flew no more…..as
I could feel and see sinister things one day….17 feb 2020
I saw people in bio…suits wearing masks….
These were the human beings
Plundering in n out
With Masks tied on their faces
They rattled here and there….

Untill …we saw many humans succumb to deaths ….in thousands!

No birds flew, no birds chirped, no peacocks danced, and no humans were seen ….
In broad day light, as if the sun had not rose …..on those days…
The deaths tolled but no one cried
Of pathos and woes!
Their were silent fickle cries
….no moaning of deaths…no sermons read…
when your
Beloved parts…..suffocated breaths!

The hues…very stoic n still
Roads that roared of thousands of cars n speeding vehicles
Were barren ….all deserted roads
The people were sick….were quarantined by state n folks!

No birds chirped, peacocks danced, no church bells rang
No tombs clad with wreath!
No obescience no moaning pictures
No ships sailed! No Airplanes flew
No tubes shuttled
All that rattled were people
On masks n deathbeds!

No Monk came to bless the departed!
No President read grieving speeches!
No Countries were told of
This pandemic and deaths charts read
They hushed up WHO !

Such is the gloom and cunning guise
All under the subterfuge , of a Corona Virus- Mask!
No people spoke in Chinese Lands!
Their markets closed in Wuhun!

Then….we all paled in the face of death….my friends went to far of lands ….
Thinking it were safe n happy,
But my friends the Corona Virus had plagued…..more deaths in this pandemic….
Millions lay sick and fighting for life!
The Leaders of Countries World Over, were shattered
But uttered words of promise n hope for mankind!
Cities are locked down, no ships catered on ocean routes
No planes flew in blue skies
No peacocks danced this Spring Season
No Spring Equinox celebrated!

No birds flew in seamless skies…
But birds and animals gathered in hooks and
Prayed for all beings well being!

The shepherd’s took a different route !
Something is sinister down China road!

The old traders, turned their routes off- China routes!
The Black Blanket Covered it all!

I flew away, away thousands of miles
With my friends …!
I knew this…..when I saw my reflection in crystal clear waters!

National Theatre At Home: Watch Top-Notch Shows Online For Free | Londonist

National Theatre has launched a new way for audiences to access its productions online while it is closed.

National Theatre At Home offers content including NT Live productions available to watch for free on YouTube, and resources from the National Theatre Collection being made available online to schools and universities.

A selection of NT Live productions, recordings of stage shows which have previously be screened in cinemas, will be made available on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel from next Thursday (2 April). Productions are shown every Thursday at 7pm, and then available for seven days.

Theatre at Home

“Phansi se pehle Corona ki antim ichha” by Sudhir Mangar

A writer and thinker, Sudhir Mangar, makes a very perceptive, video, on lessons to be learnt from the current Pandemic.

A thought on many things in our lifestyle which we are viewing due to corona impact and some aspects of change in society and our thinking perhaps require introspection.

Plays of Social Relevance and on Feminist Issues / Manohar Khushalani

Firstly on Women’s Day it is important to recall the innumerable street plays we did on women’s issues mostly under the banner of Theatre Union and Workshop Theatre

Om Swaha‘ was about dowry and bride burning. It contributed towards sensitizing the media and the nation on this issue.’  

‘The Rape Bill” was about custodial rape and insensitive cross examination of victims in courts. It was performed when a select committee was examining the new rape bill before it became an act in the parliament. It also informed women about their rights.

Pardon ka Parcham’  was prepared by us after Roop Kanwar an 18-year old Rajput woman committed Sati  on 4th September 1987 at Deorala village of Sikar district in Rajasthan. These plays were collectively evolved by our group Theatre Union.

I would also like to recall my brothers and sisters in arms, an endless procession of street theatre co-warriors who came, sometimes stayed for a while and sometimes stopped briefly for a production or two and moved on. In no particular order they were: Sudhir Mishra, Sushmita Mukherji, Bina Pal. Meenu Chatutvedi, Anamika Haksar, Nandini, Anil Mehta, Anuradha Kapoor, Ravi Shankar, Umesh Bisht, Maya Rao, Vandana Bisht, Sushil Prashar, Sujasha Dasgupta, Chandrashekhar, Urvashi Butalia, Ragini Prakash, Vibhuti Nath Jha, Dr. Harivansh Chopra, Krishan Tyagi, Kumkum Sangaria, Ein Lal, Dr.Ravi Mahajan, Satyajit Sharma, Tapush Chanda and me, Manohar Khushalani. If I have forgotten anybody then please remind me.

I also directed Dario Fo’s ‘Can’t Pay Won’t Pay‘ for TU, it was a proscenium play. The play Kanthi Tripathy’s Kurukshetra and After which I directed for StageBuzz was also a proscenium play based on the Stree Parv  of Mahabharat. Which takes up the issue of women’s plight during War. And of course how can I forget that as an actor I acted in Henrik Ibsen’s ‘Dolls House and Tendulkar’s ‘Khamosh Adalat Zari hai‘ ! Both monumental plays in their own right.

With Workshop Theatre which emerged out of a workshop conducted by the Theatre Giant Badal Sircar at Sri Ram Center in 1979-80 we did a few plays on social issues, the most important amongst the was Badal Sircar’s, Bhooma. It took us 6 months to develop the play, which we translated from Bengali to Hindi collectively. We were young and sentimental, and broke down before the audience and audience too became sentimental about the plight of the villagers and farmers of Sunderbans who had to till and plow a land made fallow by salinity. Other plays we did was William Hinton’s Fanshen, Bertolt Brecht’s, Measures Taken and a children’s play; Kaddu Ram evolved by Workshop Theatre

Would also invite the readers to a conference being conducted by Natrang Pratisthan to discuss our memories of Theatre Union and it’s plays on

Manohar Khushalani

Raunaq & Jassi: Watch Out Thespians, Bollywood is Here / Manohar Khushalani

The Legendary Balcony scene, in Raunag and Jassi inspired from Romeo and Juliet

The Legendary Balcony scene, in Raunaq and Jassi inspired from Romeo and Juliet

The show of Raunaq & Jassi at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was a blockbuster, though, not as big as Director Feroz Abbas Khan’s earlier hit, Mughal E Azam. What appears to be a new trend or perhaps a solution for the beleaguered Amateur Theatre, about how to make the ends meet. The approach is to be commercially savvy. Have a big budget production with all the frills that technology demands, get a sponsor and launch it on a big scale. Designed by John Narun, the Cyclorama had the digital projections of luminescent landscapes and skyscapes with a wow appeal. Lighting by David Lander was in sync with the background projection just as Fali Unwala’s set was. The arches and balustrades seem to flow out of the landscapes. Piyush Kanojia has given the foot tapping melodious music, and Mayuri Upadhya choreographing the play with Bollywood style vigorous dances, Yes, one is giving credits to the technical crew first because they were largely responsible for the bells and whistles which made the production stand up and be noticed. Talking about the technical crew, one cannot ignore audio projection, which was flawless with the actors using Bluetooth microphones to be heard loud and clear. This is where some discomfort is felt by traditional actors who have been trained in mikeless voice projections. The nuances and earthy qualities of human voice are lost and actors tend to ignore making the effort to modulate their speech patterns. This was clearly visible to a trained ear when the actors tended to declaim rather than emote. So let’s not get carried away by the glitz and glamour.

The script which was obviously inspired by Shakespeare’s, Romeo & Juliet, was written by Iqbal Raj. The poetic adaptation was indeed remarkable and played a major role in success of the production. The lyrical quality of the verse did full justice to the bards tale. Like the original 16th century play, “Raunaq and Jassi” too explores a long-standing hatred between two feuding families the Jagirdars and Chaudharys, and a chance encounter leading to an intense romance between young Raunaq (Omkar Patil) and Jassi ( Neha Sargam) who belong to either clans, leads to a compelling tale of helpless but hapless love. The two lovers are torn between loyalties to their own clans and the fatal attraction to each other.

Khan, however, insists his production was an original script told in an Indian context.”It is kind of a homage to Shakespeare, but it is a completely original piece of writing, and the fact that we are doing a musical, that’s the fresh aspect of it,” He is reported to have said. There is some truth in that because,  very simply, while Romeo and Juliet can be considered a tragedy as the protagonists – the young lovers – are faced with a momentous obstacle that results in a horrible and fatal conclusion. On the other hand Iqbals play has a happy ending because Raunaq is able to convince both families to give up their decades old rivalry and allow them to marry.

The play has a huge cast of  30 artistes including dancers and actors, It has 11 songs including two original compositions by the playwright. The performers have done a remarkable job. Dancers were agile and their steps were in perfect sync with the music. While the character of Jassi is played by Neha Sargam, actors Omkar Patil and Mahendra Singh Pal took turns to play Raunaq. One does not know who was playing Raunaq,s role on the day of the show. Neha’s performance stood out for her intensity laced with live singing. What is remarkable is the fact that all performers sang live, there was no playback except for the background scores which were played behind the crooner’s voice in Karaoke style. The lead singer Mirande Shah was like the spine of the play her matchless singing held the play together as she doubled up as a Sutradhar. The audience was applauding clapping and tapping their toes with memorable folk songs such as ‘Dama Dam Mast Kalandar’, ‘Kala Sha Kala’ and ‘Tumhe Pyaar’. This review would be incomplete without a word for performers who played supporting roles.and gave substance and flesh to the story. Dhai Maa (Sonal Jha) and Gurdip Mama (Jeetendra Shastri), who had a romantic history of their own in the play gave a peppy performance and drew huge applause. Gurneet in the role of Jarnell, the antogonist suitor of Jasssi with his remarkable stage presence was impressive. Farhan Fatema gave a robust enactment as the Chaudhraen with her clear diction and energetic voice.

This entire production became successful because of the visionary approach of the Director Feroz Abbas Khan with his out of box ideas in Production design and in booking Ashish Hemrajani of Book My Show to produce the play