A STEADY RAIN
Yes, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, better known as Wolverine and James Bond, starred in a play with this name on Broadway, but I haven’t had the good fortune to see it. My title refers quite simply to the state of the weather. The monsoon is a formidable foe for a theatre producer. Just as football telecasts were last month. In a recent run of shows, some smart application on my phone woke me up daily with the weather forecast, and on every show day, it mentioned ‘heavy thunderstorms’. Turned out to be remarkably accurate too. As such, every time I went to the box office to check advance sales, the guy at the counter evaded the question and told me which pin code was now flooded. Having said that, a special mention must be made about the much hyped ‘spirit of Mumbaikars’. Every word is true. Yes, the advance was slow, but that could also be because people today just find it hard to commit. But they came. They braved the weather and the water logging and turned up in fairly large numbers (given the circumstances) to support our cause. This is as public a forum as I can manage, so I’d just like to say ‘Thank you all’.
The month started with shows in Nagpur. The cast was put up in a beautiful, large guest house, with lawns, spacious rooms, a dining hall, a courtyard which made for some great sporting activities. The catch: In a generous move, it was kept private. So ten people were living on otherwise empty premises. A great luxury by day. The Shining by night. But sanity and courage were kept intact by copious amounts of alcohol. Speaking of which, while the shows went off very well, the most memorable part of the trip was an unbelievably enjoyable (and debauch) cast party – in a posh hotel, with lots of food, much booze and no restrictions. Besides limited music selections, but this was swiftly tackled by Reliance NetConnect. Yes, the music streamed in from online. And we partied harder than ever. No, fortunately there is no evidence. One cast member said condescendingly, “Who would have thought that the best party I’d ever attend would be in Nagpur?” I was offended, of course, as it happens to be my father’s hometown, but I understood the good intentions of the statement, and gave the person the benefit of the doubt. Our flight back was early the next morning, and predictably it was a quiet one, with the exception of the occasional groan.
With a couple of easy weeks before more shows, I took up an acting assignment, as an understudy. My first show was in Ahmedabad, without much rehearsal. I went on stage, with shaky lines, sweaty palms and a moustache that gently tickled. The fact that I opened the play didn’t help much. Halfway through the relatively short piece I realized it wasn’t going all that dreadfully. Moments later, right in the middle of one of my better learnt paragraphs, the lights went off, not as per cue or schedule. How the situation was salvaged is a story for another day. But all I want to say, especially to those who may want to try their luck on stage, is that think twice, maybe even thrice, because up there you need two things above all else – rock hard balls and nerves of steel.