Q's Countdown - Top Thespo Moments

It's been a long 12 years. And true to our earlier belief Thespo just dozen get any better. I look forward to each December. So as a special departure from the regular and keeping in the Thespo 12 theme, I am going to countdown 12 of my favourite memories. Please feel free to add your own or vote for your all time favourite. Here goes:

  1. Thespo '99: Lesbian Lip Lock.
    Few adolescent experiences top that. Yes I was still an adolescent then. The Jai Hind college play The Miracle was a about a strange love triangle where the counsellor (the incredibly attractive Ramona Sunavala) is repairing a marriage between Frieshiaa Bomanbehram (also very attractive) and Rohit Bagai (equally attractive). The moment was the twist in the tail, when the counsellor/therapist suddenly seduces the wife and they exchange a very passionate kiss. It shocked the audience. But hardly anyone hooted because of the comfortable and beautiful way the moment it was created. Kudos girls!

  2. Thespo 2000: Mel Gibson as the father.
    Something was annoying me about the deceased father's larger than life size photograph above the fireplace in the play Brothers. I couldn't quite make it out. It was familiar, yet not. Suddenly it hit me! It was a picture of Mel Gibson, with a moustache and texturing to make him look older. These were pre-photoshop days. At least we could say Mel Gibson was on stage at Thespo!
  3. Thespo 3: This is not my psychosis.
    Our first true theatrical moment makes it to the list. Nostalgia Brand Chewing Gum from Bangalore was playing at the NGMA. The story is about a young couple who have split up after very intense relationship. The play happens over the guy's house warming dinner, where each part of relationship brings their present significant other. The action is regularly interrupted by the monologues of the two protagonists. In one such section, both characters are talking to the audience about how they hate the other person and their short comings. However they seem to be talking as though they are the other person. Just as the audience begins to think that this is quite weird, both characters in unison cry, 'This is not my psychosis', and cross to the other persons monologue spot and continue in their correct monologue or psychosis. Great moment.

  4. Thespo 4: The Party Scene
    Easily one of my favourite moments in theatre. Incredibly difficult to do, so am not sure if this was design or happenstance. Still it was a brilliant moment. The play is mainly about 3 friends (no it's not written by Rahul da Cunha!). One who wants to kill himself. And the other two his best friends. There is however one scene where all his old college friends come to celebrate his birthday part. There must have been about 4 simultaneous conversations going on. And yet all were accessible to the audience. You could tune into one, and if you didn't like it follow another. One was about phone network, one about burning rubber and one about agreeing without actually listening. I watched the play three times and each time I tuned into a different conversation in the scene. And thus AKvarious was born!

  5. Thespo 5: The end of Shatranj Ke Khiladi
    I actually didn't see this moment. But the impact it left on a close friend allows me to include it in the list. The production used Munshi Premchand's characters' obsession with chess as a metaphor for our modern day obsession with brands. In the final scene of the play brand logos was projected onto the solo actor. As he tried to rid himself of the logo by taking off a layer of clothing, another brand was projected on the next layer of clothing. Bit by bit he stripped until he was only in his underwear. With nothing else to take off, the logo was projected onto his skin. The play ended with him tearing away at his skin. This moved the Awards Night MC so much that he was a mumbling wreck in the interval changeover. Anything that can move someone like that, has to be a great moment.

  6. Thespo 6: Woman being dragged across the space
    Sakharam Binder is a play known for it's violence towards women. But nothing prepared us for the opening of Sakharam Binder Retold. As the audience was still getting used to their seats and the houselights had still not dimmed; a woman runs into the NCPA Experimental from the audience being chased by a man. She takes shelter at the foot of the stage. He catches up with her. Swears at her. And then proceeds to drag her by the hair the full 45 feet to the exit from where they entered. We watched in horror. Unable to do anything. All this while the audience lights were still up. It made for an incredibly 'realistic' moment, before the artifice of the theatre took over with the play.

  7. Thespo 7: Don't want to be a politician baby, don't want to be a chuth
    The whole year belonged to Butter & Mashed Banana. It was really quite the runaway hit. And it was simple. In form it should have been a street play, but in content it was biting satire at it's best. The above line is from their seminal song which the three actors sang in their white dhotis, sitting by a pink bucket, strumming a guitar. Simple and effective. Lovely.
  8. Thespo 8: Middle initial 'K'
    One of the funniest moments of Confessions had to be when the protagonist is being asked his name by the fearsome interrogators. He is asked his first name? It is 'Katurian'. His last name: 'Katurian'. His middle initial? 'K'. Topolski then says, your name is Katurian Katurian Katurian? The audience held their sides with laughter. Lovely moment, well played.

  9. Thespo 9: Split personality
    In the middle of Ayushyamaan, Ninad Limaye's character goes to watch a play. During the performance he sees himself as one of the actors. To convey this Pratap Phad, the director, chose to have both the 'actor' and Ninad do the same actions. The synchronisation was immaculate. And just when we as an audience were wondering what was going on, the synchornised performance broke and Ninad ran out of the 'theatre'.

  10. Thespo X: There's only a little left
    The story is of Dalan is about a school master who tries to seduce a students mother. He visits her at her home and finally gets her alone. Just then a nosy neighbour comes to visit. In panic the master is disguised as an old woman in a saree who has come in to grind the wheat in a stone grinder/dalan/chakkee. After many hours and almost discovering the truth, the neighbour leaves. The wife then asks the schoolmaster to stop. To which he say, "There's only a little left, I might as well finish it.". Amey Wagh in a saree and grinding wheat is among the enduring images of 2008.

  11. Thespo 11: Potential Voylence!
    Each scene in the Institute of Pavtalogy is about training the students in the various forms of gangsterhood. One such is the violence lecture. The teacher comes in and hit a student. The class is stunned. "Violence" he proclaims. A little later, he picks up a chair and threatens to drop it on another student. The kids shriek and recoil in horror. He freezes. "Potential violence!". A hilarious moment.

  12. Zohra Aapa at Thespo 5
    The last one on my countdown is not an under 25 performance. It is an over 90 performance. Aapa was 90 years old then. As she received the Lifetime Achievement Award, the entire audience stood as one. Then a cry came out, "Aapa abhi to main jawan hoon!'". She smiled. Asked for a chair and then went on to perform the 10 minute poem. It was a performance that spoke volumes. It was nuanced, entertaining and yet powerful. The eruption when she finished deafened every body. No one was the same after that night. And neither was Thespo.
So that's the 12. Let me know what you think. And if you have any you disagree with. Let's be controversial!