Nothing Like Lear – a Play Review

Vinay Pathak (Pic Credits – The Company Works)

To single-handedly hold the anxiety of an audience for 90 minutes is no mean feat. And Vinay Pathak successfully manages just that in a remarkable monologue act for the play “Nothing like Lear” staged at Prithvi theatre.

Directed by Rajat Kapoor! Well this was reason enough for me to have my seats booked for the evening while in Bombay for a day. It was his play, ‘Hamlet-The Clown Prince’ and my first that had got me to fall in love with theatre. This time too he sure knows how to keep his audience coming back for more. Prithvi holds the “Come early grab a good seat” thing. So seats taken we were excited for the play to begin.

Clad in a not so perfect suit, big shoes, a hat and a suitcase (psst: reminded me of Bheja Fry:P) a clown enters the stage 5 mins prior saying “It hasn’t started yet, continue your work”! Had I not known the lone cast before I would not have recognized Vinay Pathak dressed well to his character! So begins a roller-coaster act. This clown was not here to just make you laugh but to share his agonies as a father, a brother and a son. Humor tagged along as a well-placed emotion amongst all these bouts of sentiments.

The ramblings were various threads from his life woven together to form a see-sawing tale that had the audience engaged. They crackled with ripples of laughter on his witty lines, listened with anxiety on his relation and love for his daughter and drifted to his childhood sagas with his brother and father with equal enthusiasm. My favorites were his spontaneous entertaining lines right there in response to some audience talks. That’s what I think differentiates the skills of an actor on stage and in reel.

To end, Vinay Pathak I knew was a commendable actor but to see his various shades of emotions through this act just established his praiseworthiness. And Rajat Kapoor is a grounded man. Even after the show like always he is there to listen and greet his audience’s verdict. I would not compare it with Hamlet but Nothing like Lear was ace for a monologue act to be.

Is it playing at a theatre next to you? Go watch it and give your verdict. And if not go make a trip to Prithvi’s. Its vibrant atmosphere will sure play its effect and make you fall in love with theatre like me!

My Bombay Diaries – Saga 2

Bombay fotos2

If you plan to visit the nooks and corners of Bombay and not the usual hangouts, then choose your company well. Good company as in who are ready to hop on to an auto or catch a local train for any distance at any odd hour and travel across the hot sun. For the luxury of a cab lets you to enjoy err only the traffic.

Wait, don’t miss this fun part!

Speaking of company takes me back to my travel time company from Pune where we shared a cab with two loud blonde girls. Blonde, you know what I mean.  For the first time I met price-tag talking individuals just like Kareena’s fiance in 3 Idiots. Gosh, such blondes exist!  I knew their entire life doings in the short span, but of course only those involving a price tag. I knew one’s bf gifted her an iPhone6, her entire family changed phones to match up, the exact monies the other spent on her birthday treat (a whopping 11k), the exact quantity of drinks that had knocked her down to this and much more. All this live action in 3 hours sure had me by the stomach. Who talks this way! The icing came after they got off and the cabwala when we were thanking him at the end mockingly told us, “Tum log acche the, who dono toh pakaa rahe the”! S and I were rolling with laughter thereafter.

Coming back to my Day 2 of visit!

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Thebroma English breakfast- Avoid the closed plate click:P

It started on a high calorie note, sans any regrets! 😛 A Theobroma English breakfast. Theobroma, Powai I knew had the best brownies, before I had a sumptuous taste into this too. It’s the perfect Sunday breakfast recommended to all (see pic below). They have a variety of cakes and is packed on most days. What also got my attention was their nicely written Menu card that invited you to try their delicacies. Inviting enough that I couldn’t stop googling who their brand agency was!

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Tea-sets and beautiful brass crockery

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Mumtaz adorned the walls of some fan perhaps:)

Stomachs sorted, we were next looking for furniture shopping and headed to Jogeshwari. Now Pune has some good places but Bombay I discover is known for its antique furniture market- the Oshiwara market at Jogeswari being one of them. That was our next stop shop.

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These show-pieces ranged across centuries and was fabulous to be seeing them in real

I came across rows of second hand best of quality wooden furniture. This furniture is usually sourced from old Mumbai mansions, h avelis or palaces. What surprised me was to see some amazing antique shops that housed artifacts like picturesque paintings, brass & bronze crockery, pendulum clocks, colourful lamp-shades and much more. Curiosity to ask the owner let me know that some dated as old as 15th century and could be priced to almost up to a lac! I ain’t any collector but was already mesmerized by its presence.

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Lights and chandeliers

Morning came to an end and the evening was savoured for the best, a play at NCPA, Nariman Point. Theatre scene in Mumbai is huge. You will find a variety of theater artists including quite many side actors from movies portraying some fine acting in these plays some running full house till date.

NCPA Experimental theatre (Pic Courtesy - website)

NCPA Experimental theatre (Pic Courtesy – website)

I discovered my love for theatre after seeing my first one called Hamlet (a funny adaptation of Shakepeares play) at Prithvi theatre, Mumbai. Prithvi café inside, I have heard is famous and an adda for artists discussing art over a cuppa coffee. This NCPA play at the experimental theatre was ok and featured the Nescafe ad guy who stammers. (P.S-These actors are real short in real-life) But NCPA has amazing cold coffee and sandwiches. Don’t miss that. If art & architecture enamor you, then this place creates that aura and will have you looking around its British architecture and admiring its maganmity.

Mumbai trip is incomplete without a trip to Causeway at Colaba and a stroll near Gateway of India. Go past Bade-Miyan that is crowded as ever and walk over for some lip-smacking chicken rolls outside Gokuls a shadier but jam-packed hangout of Toons in Mumbai. That was my last and final pit-stop.

Till the next time, I had a last look at the enticing sea waters at the Gateway of India that have this magical power to enchant you saying come visit me once more will you!

Piku Movie Review – Charming, Witty and Heart warming Potpourri

PikuIf KJo flaunted in a largely overdramatic film, ‘It’s all about loving your parents’ crafted for the upper class, then enter Piku’s world where scores of Indians will relate to this movie and conclude yes, this is what is about loving your parents no matter how absurd they are.

Hindi cinema has come a long away from making larger than life movies where everything is near perfect to real-life movies where characters are well not that perfect. Piku, directed by Shoojit Sircar is a beautiful, breezy and a charming film that made me smile. I loved it.

Quite an odd pairing I thought when I saw the trailer for the first time, which was not exciting to me either. But this quite aptly proves doesn’t it, that when you have all the other elements of a movie right chemistry within actors just works if they play their part. Shooojit has made an engaging movie that keeps you hooked till the last scene, yet wanting some more. Just like his previous movie, this too has the essence of being Bengali complete with dialogues. I am sure quite a few non-Bengalis must have picked up a few words by now. (I do! -courtesy Odiya roots:P).

So what is the story line? Quite literally- nothing. Just a regular story woven around a constipation problem. But when you have three fine actors under one roof, a well written script and some rib- tickling dialogues, it’s amazing how even crappy talks sound entertaining.

Piku Banerji (Deepika) works in an architecture firm and lives with her father Bhasker Banerji (Amitabh Bachchan) who has an oddity for his health, constipation woes and verbal diarrhoea. Unabashed that Piku is, she often gives up on his talks but selflessly attends to his every beck and call. Enter my star of the film, Rana Chaudhary (Irrfan Khan) – a rental taxi owner who after a hilarious needful lands up driving the father-daughter duo to Kolkata via a road-trip. Thus the story opens to the world of Bhasker’s constantly harried bowel talks, Deepika’s relentless efforts to be calm yet caring and Irrfan Khan absolutely taken back by this, but wittily keeping Bhasker engaged throughout all his conversations.

Deepika’s stellar performance is one of her best in this, arrive the new demeanor of 2015. Her fine personality, earthy looks and casual acting will have quite a few heads turning. Amitabh is a proof of legend. His eccentricity amuses you, although I wouldn’t say it’s his best.

While Deepika’s flawless persona floors me in most of her movies, its Irfan Khan that I fall in love with, playing a lead role in a mainstream movie moreover opposite a stunning diva. With a blend of sweet and salt, he plays his character perfect. His acting has this element of laid back feel that gives you effortless dialogues. I discovered it in ‘The LunchBox’. His clueless expressions are what make you like him whenever on screen. Even his wardrobe is rightly done to meet the young look (p.s.- his final scene jacket is a killer). Ironically it’s the remarkable movie Lunch Box that had made me my write first movie review (read here).

Unlike Finding Fanny which put me off, this is real road trip movie. And unlike Mary Kom where the ad placement was on your face, you don’t mind the subtly placed ads. To end, you will enjoy the movie and see quite literally every actor coming alive, including the many helpers seen. I like the part where Bhaskar ardently listens to Irfan Khan, or when Bhaskar insists on being blunt like it or not. And the breezy conversation between Irfan and Deepika while having rolls is one of the most subtle blooming relationship I have seen in a while.

Piku is breathtaking, Bhasker is adorable and Rana is my show stealer.  Go go watch it now.

Imagining Future India, Realizing Digital India

If a stockbroker in a city can get the latest share prices across the globe in seconds, then imagine a day when farmers, arguably the most underpaid workforce are digitally connected just like in a city to know the best practices for cultivation & market prices forgoing the money minting middlemen. If urban youth in India can take courses from Harvard & MIT to enhance their skills, then imagine a day when most of the children in remote areas can take online courses by the government schools to get mere basic education. If US can have a unique social security number for each citizen that propels better services, then imagine a day where every Indian citizen’s Aadhar card a unique identification number stored on a cloud platform enables efficient and rightful service delivery anytime anywhere. This is Digital India envisioned. This is Dream India revealed.

From high speed internet connectivity for Gram-Panchayats, through governance and services on-demand, to providing collaborative digital platforms for participatory governance! Digital India- the dream project of the Government of India(GoI) has planned it all under nine pillars. Do I wish to repeat them again that can also be found here? Naah, this digital medium called blog just gives me a chance to connect with more like minded audience and share my thoughts on this colossal project set to achieve Education, Information, Healthcare and Broadband for all. Here are a few points that are interest me.

The Aadhar Card (722 million as on December 2014), an initiative for a cradle to grave unique identity number was an amazing initiative by GoI, but it lost steam midway. The government can propel this again to create a centralized online repository on a cloud platform connecting all citizen details such as voters id no., passport no. , address, ration card, educational qualifications, bank accounts among others. This will also help in tracking utility consumption details such as usage of electricity, gas, water, telephone, visa status and medical payments. Mandatory usage of Aadhar cards for purchase/trade/sale of all commodities above a set value will keep a tab on all transactions and eliminate/reduce liquid cash/transaction. It will also enable citizens to avoid repeated submission of personal details to different departments.

Digital banking is on the rise with mobile banking and cashless transactions. The latter can be enhanced by a common e-wallet cum card that can be swiped for all forms of public transport like railways, buses, rickshaws, taxis.

Digital city-wise rate cards for perishable commodities like grains, vegetables or fruits allowing the farmers to get the right price as per the local rate fluctuation in the city eliminating a major cut of the middlemen & increasing transparency.

Poor literacy rate is a key factor causing poverty and reduced employment opportunities. This is caused due to lack of proper school facilities, teaching staff and inadequate classrooms. Digital literacy can surpass distance and help connect classrooms across the nation and to provide online teaching. PM Modi on Teacher’s day demonstrated the power of digital by connecting to various schools across the nation. Also Intel’s ‘Digital Skills for India’ programme with the Indian government is set to create digital literates across 1,000 panchayats, a move that will impact five million citizens by the end of 2015. A day may not be far when schools are connected through broadband and online education platforms like massive open online courses (MOOCs).

The central government has proposed to build 100 Smart Cities by 2025. If this dream turns a reality a blueprint of a proposed smart city should include 24/7 utilities, wi-fi zones, telemedicine, digital security and surveillance, smart parking and traffic management. The main aim should be to provide good infrastructure such as water, sanitation, reliable utility services and health care.

PM Modi invites US President Mr. Obama to grace the Republic Day of India 2015, breaks the news first on his Twitter handle.  Khan Academy of US educates over 10 million students across the world, run via its YouTube tutorial Videos. From world leaders to the common man, Social Networking Sites have a growing mass appeal so enormous that it sure promises to not fade away in the near future. It is helping in a two way communication between Government and citizen. MyGov.in is one such platform that engages citizens to help give feedback and formulate policies.

In next 2 years, if broadband penetration across India increases by 50% from current ~7% and mobile penetration in rural India increases by 30% from current ~45%, the corresponding increase in GDP could be 9% (~$180 billion). Mobile Banking and Broadband connectivity are the two pillars of major transformation in India. As clichéd it may sound the Idea advertisements depicting better education through better connectivity holds true if success fully implemented (p.s. the network by demand itself has seen inroads into many remote areas).

In conclusion, Coal auctions going online has garnered a sum of Rs.1.52 trillion so far,  Make In India campaign has garnered over 2.1 billion global impressions on social media and the most recent Twitter Samvad Indian Govt. initiative about real time content thought messages has received a thumbs up. The Government of India is sure on the way to realizing this dream. Digital India is here to stay, revolutionizing India and impacting lives through various common platforms.

Thanks to Intel http://www.intel.in/ for hosting this topic and giving me the chance to research and write on this amazing initiative called #DigitalIndia.