The Motley festival is on at the Prithvi Theatre. For the ignorant, Motley is a theater group started by Naseer-ud-din Shah and they have some wonderful plays that they have staged over the years. I have been lucky enough to watch some of their plays in the past few years. However, this time when the festival started I had something I never had before - Time! So I decided to watch as many of the plays as possible. Only I decided that a little late and most of the shows were already sold out. I did manage to get tickets for two very nice ones - Katha Collage 2 and Antigone; I watched Katha Collage 1 and loved it and Antigone is much applauded ... will write more about these once I watch them in the coming week. Right now will just tell you what happened yesterday :)
I went to Prithvi with more than one purpose - to buy tickets for whichever plays I could get, while time away at their adorable cafe and try my luck for yesterday's play - Dear Liar. I managed all three successfully! After I bought the tickets for the two plays I mentioned before and was about to head for the cafe I thought it was worth a shot and made cute, puppy-like, sorry faces at the people on the ticketing counter and finally one of them said that I should try just 15-20 mins. before the show starts and if there are any cancellations they may be able to give me a ticket. So I hung around. For three hours.
I sat at the Prithvi cafe with its lazy afternoon feel, people sitting and chilling as if there wasn't a mad, rushing world outside the walls. A group of three asked me if they could share my table (though there were at least 8 tables vacant) and they did. It turned out that it was a storywriter meeting with a director's assistant and a screenplay-writer to narrate his latest story. So as I read my book and munched on my samosa, I also heard snippets of the story and as it went along I also smiled and nodded to myself when their discussion got to something interesting (Rajasthani culture for one or the fabulousness of the Motley plays). After some time and many glasses of tea (by them); a raspberry drink, a lemonade and a mint tea down (by me) I became a quasi-teammate of sorts and was looked at for approval or a comment from time to time. It was all much fun. On one table I could see some students having a quick bite and running off. On another a mom treating a brother-sister duo after their summer workshop , there was much giggling and laughter. On yet another, one oldie and a young guy sitting while the oldie reminisced about working with Guru Dutt as a technician and knowing his driver personally(?). Some famous and some not so famous celebrities mingled over bhurji pav. Everyone seemed to be in a comfortable place, I definitely was. The three hours passed away pretty quickly and I managed to get a ticket and got to watch Dear Liar.
I managed to get a VERY good place to sit ... just a row from the stage. So close that I felt that Naseer and Ratna Pathak were talking to me (considering it was them on stage, I'm sure that may be true for most people) and not upfront so that I wasn't looking up at them. I have seen Naseer on stage earlier but I think you can never have enough of that, it was a treat.
The play was a comedy, based on the correspondence of over 40 years between Mrs. Patrick Campbell and George Bernard Shaw. The letters were found by her maid in a old battered hat box in the days of the second world war and now in the form of this play trace the relationship the two shared (Shaw and Stella, not the maid) over about half a century. Hilarious, funny, subtly emotional in places; but most of the time it had the audience rolling with laughter. It was an awesome experience and at the end of the play the two got a standing ovation. I have also watched the plays Love Letters, Tumhari Amrita and Aapki Soniya; which had a slightly similar format. Shabana's Tumhari Amrita is the only one which manages to touch this one's brilliance.
I was left with the sense that I had seen and been a part of something grand. What a day! I stepped out of the theater in a state of bliss. Not excited - just blissful. It was a whole new feeling. I'm now waiting to see what the other two plays will do to me ... :)