Shoe bites: Pune Needs more Theatre

Amongst my friends the saying “At least it is something different” is often brought up in conversation. We’re constantly on the look out for interesting and fun things to do in the city. Pune is still at it’s core a small city, even though it’s grown up considerably in the last few years. This weekend Puneries were given the unique chance to delve into dance and theatre. The 3 day festival called Gulaal was hosted by the Indian Rhythm & Arts Association (IRAA), and brought together a power packed group of performers to entertain on such a large stage.

live to dance

I attended the Friday performances, a Bharatnatyam piece by celebrated artist Alarmel Valli and a play called Between the Lines by Nandita das and Subodh Maskara. As Ms.Valli said, it’s unfortunate that art forms like these don’t pull in the crowds as some of the more popular concerts and shows. For those of us in the audience though, we were mesmerized by the grace and expression of her craft. Personally I loved the second condensed varnam that was a story about a devotee who yearned for one celestial union with the Lord Natraj. The dance captured what so many of us women who long to be with our beloved feel, a moment even if a fleeting one is just as precious. That’s the thing about this form of dance, if in the hands of the talented it can bring to the bubble your emotions, even if you don’t understand every little nuance.

Between the lines

Next up was the brilliant play by Nandita Das and her husband Subodh Maskara. Between the Lines is story of a contemporary Indian couple, who tip toe between their cultural upbringing and their need to be more than a stereotype.  The couple are both lawyers, but after marriage the wife goes on to specialize in contracts, where as the husband becomes a lauded criminal prosecutor. The real fun begins when the two of them have to fight the same criminal case, but on opposite sides. The wife takes a more emotional approach, but the man a more practical. The entire play is a dance between how the couple view their marriage through the criminal trial. At the crux of it, the story is about the difference between a man and woman’s perceptive. They play is a delight to watch, as it has an immidiate connect with what we modern Indians feel and deal with. An excellent script teamed with incredible actors, it was a great end to the evening.

In Bombay, I’d go every two weeks or so to see plays at NCPA or Prithvi, or even stand up shows at local bars. I definitely miss that the most about my big move to Pune. Hopefully, we will get more theatre productions like the ones in Bombay, but till then I should get more connected to the already existing theatre culture here.

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