02 August, 2008

Ayushyawar Bolu Kahi - A refreshingly different stage experience

My mother firmly announced " We are going for a stage show and you are coming ." She refused to say anything more. Both I and my wife assumed that it is a play in the Marathi language and resigned ourselves to the decision taken for us. We found ourselves in Shivaji Mandir - a drama theatre in suburban Dadar, at 8pm having braved the returning traffic of Mumbai.

That’s when we saw the tickets, they declared “Ayushyawar Bolu Kahi” (Lets discuss about Life) and a foot rule would have been found short to measure the length of our fallen faces. Were they long? It typically sounded like some heavy crap that my mom has dished out. Almost like a two day old casserole from her huge refrigerator being opened. Yikes what have we let in ourselves for? Our only solace now lay in the batata wada and chaha of Shivaji Mandir’s pantry and I love the two items from here. These days they don’t allow food in the hall. In my minds eye I could see a famished performing crew member leaping off stage and snatching the wada from a member of the audience and the ensuing drama within the drama.This could have been the logic for the management to have stopped eatables inside. Who knows maybe I was nearer the mark than I thought? We gorged on wada’s all the same. Before the show had started, I and my wife had 4 each, washed down with two cups of tea. Those who had seen us pig were worried about being seated next to us, Cant blame them. No one enjoys a fully spudded neighbour at a Cinema or a play.

Marathi theatre experience is more like revisiting an old school. There is a pattern almost distinct. The attendees are almost all genteel as a rule. They speak in hushed tones and catch up with neighbors and friends. Exceptions to this rule are those spotlight hungry ( stage term ) or footage eaters ( cinema term ) who deliberately drag attention to themselves. This is also a set pattern. They make a big show of purposefully walking up the aisle, confidently opening up the backstage door and making several trips to and from it. Pointedly looking at the front row audience with a "So what if you sit upfront, can you walk backstage???" look.

After all Saree patterns, Jewellery design-weight-brand, Recipes & Gossip has been exchanged amongst the atyas and maushi’s (dowager aunts of the wrinkled variety) a cell phone rings. How did I forget this ubiquitous device of personal invasion? It’s as if technology has given the gentlemen in the stage audience a subject of their own to discuss. There is a subtle difference though; in the display of pride of ownership. While bejeweled women take pride in saying “I have the heaviest” Men quite the contrary for cell phones say “I have the smallest” you even hear a stray “Dakhavu?” (Wanna see?). Out of context eavesdropping is always simply hilarious. The wife and parents are in some deep discussion so I am spared sour looks as I snicker.

The final bell rings and the lights dim save the velvety sword and shield insignia of Shivaji Mandir. The anticipation increases and the voices die down. The crew is delayed and the program announcers convey regrets. After an instruction to shut or silence our cellphones, the curtains part. The stage is yet dark. A voice sings the opening lines of the name of the performance and the stage lightens up. Three young men sitting on the stage, one stocky with a tabla, one geeky guy with a harmonium and one rather fresh faced good looking young man with a thick notebook. It’s the fresh faced guy who is singing. His voice has a curious tenor husky, and clear. He is Sandeep Khare a poet, singer and music director and the geeky guy is Dr. Salil Kulkarni an eminent Music Director and singer. Nothing else is on the stage.

My interest is piqued. What are these guys going to present? Then Sandeep introduces all on stage and confesses to the rather heavy title, urging the audience not to be worried by it. It’s a poetry recital and music program. Without any more preliminaries they start with one beautiful composition after another, completely fresh. Some are recited, many sung. These are truly awesome & are interspaced with conversations and anecdotes. Both have a very disarming style of speech and being from Pune love to talk. I realize that there are many in the audience who has come again having watched them earlier.
The range of poetry of Sandeep ,the mellifluous voice of Salil Kulkarni and the tenor of Sandeep Khare made for such a splendid experience that I was an instant convert. One could see many an old person moved to prickling eyes when Salil sang “Nastes Ghari tu jevha” or the younger crowd roaring to the bhajiwaala song that has given them complete recognition among the masses “Dipaang Dipaang”.

All of this poetry is by Sandeep and the connection of the performing artistes on stage was so complete that the experience was at once soul stirring and totally moving. This was not like a refrigerated two day old casserole warmed up. It was fresh, though these guys had done some 400 odd shows across the country and some outside.

A neo convert often is a zealot and like a person in need of the next fix I went scouring the music shops for all their titles. Most of their work is excellent, some outstanding while some are distinctly for the masses. I had made a new find for myself and though I woke up late to them, I am glad that I could hear them live on stage. Look forward to their next performance in the city again.

नसतेस घरी तू जेव्हा..जीव तुटका तुटका होतो…जगण्याचे विरती धागे..संसार फाटका होतो…

नभ फाटून वीज पडावी…कल्लोळ तसा ओढवतो …ही धरा दिशाहीन होते…अन्‌ चंद्र पोरका होतो…

येतात उन्हे दाराशी…हिरमुसून जाती मागे…खिडकीशी थबकुन वारा…तव गंधावाचून जातो…

तव मिठीत विरघळणाऱ्या…मज स्मरती लाघववेळा…श्वासाविण ह्रुदय अडावे…मी तसाच अकंतिक होतो…

तू सांग सखे मज काय…मी सांगू या घरदारा ?...समईचा जीव उदास…माझ्यासह मिणमिण मिटतो…

ना अजून झालो मोठा…ना स्वतंत्र अजुनी झालो…तुजवाचून उमगत जाते…तुजवाचून जन्मच अडतो !..

No comments: