Revisiting Ahmedabad and Sanjay Dadhich
After many months, I have the honour of beginning my article with a Sanjay Dadhich quote. He's been meeting me less often, primarily because he is now getting key roles in plays, and is also evolving into a popular playwright. His first piece, which featured in T Pot Productions' Chaar Small, is rumoured to be the cream of the crop. I missed the play, for which he has forgiven me. But had I seen it, I would have been wary of giving him any feedback. This is because, not so long ago, I heard him stop an audience member mid sentence and say, "I choose my critics, and you are not one of them. Now let's have some tea." Note how the generous offer of tea softened the morale crushing blow delivered right before. Sigh. This man is an urban legend. And I have so much to learn.
June was relatively less packed than May, but we did manage to make it busy enough. One important achievement for me was to finally perform at Natarani in Ahmedabad. Back in the day, when I was still young, I used to frequent Ahmedabad, mostly to meet my chaddi buddy at NID, and to make failed attempts to justify a doomed romance. In those days, there was this myth of Natarani, this cultural Mecca on the river bank, where Indian Ocean played in lantern lit boats. Later I visited it briefly, and all the rumours were true. But theatre was a hobby then, and cracking integration for the maths exam was the task at hand. Natarani found its way to my wishlist. Later offers came, fizzled out, and I lost hope. But earlier this month, there I was.
You can't see the river anymore, because of some cultural River Project, but its presence is felt nonetheless. The place is genuinely beautiful, and this sense of being in some sort of a heritage site prevails. The café is quaint, serves as an adda for students, and offers lovely chaas. June in Ahmedabad is blisteringly hot. That evening was too, and it was absolutely still. But the audience stayed put, armed with their fans, which were also occasionally used to shoo away low flying bats. One artiste was particularly concerned about these creatures. He was convinced that if five or six of them sensed his fear, they would carry him off. Yes, Christopher Nolan, your work has this effect too. Not everyone conquers their fear.
I meant to see a lot of plays this month. Arms and the Man, Chaar Small, The Class Act, Famous Last Words, Flowers, Mamtaz Bhai Patangwale, The Sound of Music, and so on. I managed to see none of the above. I did read a lot of plays though, on account of being on the panel of judges for a scriptwriting contest. The one play I did manage to see was the revival of Me Grandad ‘ad an Elephant. I had seen and enjoyed it at the Prithvi Festival a few years ago, and then had played a part in a particularly interesting show. It resurrected in June, with the very talented Ahlam Khan returning as the lead, with a spanking new principal cast, including Tom Alter (what an arresting presence), Ayesha Raza Mishra (lovely as ever, note to self: must work with her), Zafar Karachiwala (apparently some girls confessed in their blogs about how seeing him in a lungi made them go weak in the knees) and Dilshad Edibam (the missus) in a new role, which she did wonders with. A lot of credit goes to Digvijay Savant, for his imaginative design, and Ritesh, for his unforgettable music. It’s playing in July. Watch it.