November has been, pretty much the most eventful year of 2009 so far. Well, there were other eventful months to be honest, but none of them that I would think of as eventful in a good way.
The play that I had been working on I am an Emotional Creature with Mahabanoo and Kaizaad Mody Kotwal (Poor Box Productions) which was written by Eve Ensler premiered at TATA theatre at NCPA Mumbai. We also did a few shows in Bangalore, my first visit to the city and then Nicholas came to India for the first time in his life. I did some stand up at Blue Frog through Weirdass Comedy‘s HAMATEUR night.
Now I’m back to mornings of watching the dog getting his hair clipped and standing around making faces to agitate him while he is given a bath.
Eve Ensler is hugely popular in India. Her Vagina Monologues took the nation by storm. Also produced by Poor Box Productions and the indomitable Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, it has played in almost every major metropolis in India. It has inflamed politicians, infuriated censors and is still playing to packed houses almost everywhere. So Eve’s next script I am an Emotional creature came with high expectations attached to it.
We were selected after a two-week long workshop process, and we finally became a cast of 10 who I think did a damn good job. It felt good to act with people who are in a good place in their careers because it makes me feel that I too will be all right, and out there in this world, there is a spot for me too. The reception to the play was also pretty good. Bangalore audiences, I found out are more attuned to drama. People were bawling at the end of most of the monologues. I am an Emotional Creature, much like Vagina Monologues, is a series of monologues, told from the point of view of different girls from all around the world. What the play aimed to highlight was the fact that being a girl, is a universal experience, and no matter what the situation or dilemma, girls are a resilient albeit emotional lot.
I have to admit, I was not a fan of the Vagina Monologues. Entirely too much vagina in it if you ask me. I mean, we don’t have men walking around talking about the smells and taste of the penis poetically, even in Mills and Boons it was always known as something like the ‘member’ or at best his ‘manhood’
Usage: Mick Jagger tried to enlarge his member by letting bees sting it/ His throbbing member responded to her heaving bosom and inviting eyes.
Meaning: Also, Penis, maybe a nicer way of saying Penis than say, I don’t know…member
Usage: The light of the candle shone on her heaving bosom, and his manhood sprang to attention}[EDIT: Does it seem like I’ve used the words “heaving bosom” too much in this post already? You’re right, I have]
For men it never got as nice as “love mound” or “honey pot.”
Everyone was very upset when one day in a skirt, on a swing, Oprah gleefully yelled “My vajajay is showing.” Why ,they ask, did she not say “My vagina is showing”? For the same reason that we don’t expect men to say, “My penis is so itchy”, before scratching their balls in public.
I am an emotional creature though is nothing like Vagina Monologues, had a lot of people imagining it to be a follow-up, which it was not. One of my favorite monologues was “The Thing about my Nose” performed by Gunjan Bakshi, about a 16-year-old in Iraq who is forced to get plastic surgery on her big nose by her parents because they think that “(she) will be a princess now.” But she loved her large nose, it gave her “history and mystery. It inspired (her) with wicked ideas.” My favorite performance, undoubtedly was Dilnaz Irani’s “Hunger Blog.” The text is sort of sparse, but Dilnaz created a whole character and story out of it. After having seen her explore every facet of the text and character very diligently during rehearsal, it was very satisfying to see her find herself on stage as an actor. (I was backstage during the Bombay performance, so I didn’t know how it went on the day of the show.) The reviews were varied with Pragya Tiwari of HT Cafe bashing it for all it’s worth ( It’s not online unfortunately), iDiva being much, much kinder.
As the cast of the play, we had the fortune of meeting Eve Ensler, who came down and watched all of our performances. And her public image is EXACTLY the same as her personal one. The warmth she exudes is exceptional, the way she speaks is riveting, and her experiences and work have set her apart from the rest of the world in unimaginable ways. I remember sitting across the table from her at her hotel in Bangalore and knowing that I was in the presence of someone who had taken what she had done exceptional things, and will continue to do so. I was a little bit in awe.
In the process of course, I ended up making friends with 9 other wonderful girls, one wonderfully chocolate faced assistant director, and a mother-son duo, who share the kind of relationship that Rohinton Mistry‘s character’s so plaintively long for.
Nick’s visit to India was amazing. I had an itinerary for every hour of our trip, one that was thrown out of the window almost as soon as he got here. There was too much hanging out in front of the T.V, over a beer and at a movie to be done with him, that I had rashly neglected to include in the itinerary. In his two weeks here however, we did manage to spend 5 days in Goa, 3 in Panchgani, go to an Indian wedding, get mehendi tattos (his, of a naked mermaid who has one arm draped carelessly across one boob, on his right arm, has given him the rash of a lifetime. Yes, I forced him to get it, yes I feel guilty) and rediscover each other. And of course my funny-yet politically correct-honey kept most of his observations about India to himself except “You guys are basically on the look out for a reason to start dancing all the time, right?” I had to respond with a guilty “Yes” before running off to dance to “chunari, chunari” in the middle of Pooja’s living room where everyone else had already been dancing for the past hour or so.
I am glad he came because I was reminded of how wonderful, kind, caring, gentle, patient and funny he is. This may will sound super corny, but even after years, I cannot believe my luck when it comes to having him in my life.
HAMATEUR night at Blue Frog was fun. First off, kudos to Vir Das for being generous enough to give a platform to so many young people. Second off, he is a man after my heart because no one I know has managed to create such awesome puns from his own name in the history of awesomeness.
Vir Das’s show is: Walking on broken DAS
Vir Das’s comedy troupe is: Weird Ass (Say it quickly and it’s Veer-er-dass)
I like it. Keep it coming guys.
Of course, Mumbai audiences are more attuned to humor. Make me laugh or get off the fucking stage really. And as anticipated, poop/fat/facebook/Gujju jokes rule the roost. It’s all right though, in Mr. Das’s own words ” Nothing like a good song about STD’s.” We will grow as an audience I hope. We will. Sourabh Pant, another member of the troupe was also up there adding to the whole awesomeness of the night. He was there if any of the HAMATEURS wanted to run the material by him and his feedback was thoughtful, intelligent and helpful. It didn’t hurt that he was cute in a “who-me-?-oh-I’m-just-this-damn-nice-all-the-time-anyway” kind of way.
I’m looking forward to December, the end of 2009 is going to be great. I’m ready for things to start going very,very well.