Mumbai Diary: Friday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce
Wearing her heart on her tee
Malaika Arora, who was rumoured to tie the knot with Arjun Kapoor, makes quite a statement with her "official heart breaker" T-shirt as she walks out of yoga class in Bandra with sister Amrita, on the day the couple dismissed all speculations. Pic/Shadab Khan
Poems over plates
This week, a free poetry reading session hosted by the Max Mueller Bhavan saw noted city poets Ranjit Hoskote, Kamal Vora, Mustansir Dalvi and Sampurna Chattarji take stage. And after the event, the poets joined by Arundhati Subramaniam, Kaiwan Mehta and artiste Danish Husain headed straight for dinner to a Kala Ghoda eatery that serves North West Frontier cuisine.
Witnessing such an event is a rarity, and Husain captured this in his caption along with a picture of all the happy diners. "There is nothing like a convivial gathering of poets," he wrote.
Smita turns playwright
The premiere of the play Hello Zindagi, this Saturday, marks the debut of television actor Smita Bansal as playwright. The plot revolves around the lives of five women from different backgrounds staying together in a posh flat in Mumbai.
"I have always been fascinated by what women, who have given their all to their careers and devoted themselves to bringing up their children, do once the kids are independent. Do they reinvent themselves in the lull that follows, or do they accept things as is? These characters have been close to me, and I thought it was time to build a story around them," Bansal told this diarist. Directed by Raman Kumar, the cast includes Minissha Lamba, Kishwar Merchant, Delnaaz Irani, Chitrashi Rawat, and veteran actor Guddi Maruti, who, too, is making her stage debut with the play.
A step in the right direction
A little-known but insidious practice plaguing Indian classical art forms is what members of the community call "pay and perform". "Organisers put together festivals and in lieu of providing artistes a platform to perform, they charge them a sum of money, which is a huge impediment to the economic progress of young practitioners of Indian classical dance and music. Having access to a stage is the right of every artiste. Why are they called the performing arts, after all?" Uma Dogra told this diarist, ahead of a new show, Nava Pallava, which is the kathak exponent's response to the practice.
"It is an initiative by Mr Ashok Jain, a connoisseur and organiser based in Rajasthan, who raised his voice against pay and perform, and several senior artistes including Sharmila Biswas ji from Kolkata and Anita Sharma ji from Guwahati have joined in," she said, adding that starting with the show this Sunday, performances will be organised across India, where young artistes will not be asked to pay. Instead, they will be paid a fee for performing. Odissi dancer Biswajit Das, kathak dancer Nikita Banawalikar and sarangi player Sandeep Mishra have been invited to perform in Mumbai. While Dogra has taken care of their conveyance and the fee they will be paid for the show, other senior members of the community have arranged for their stay. Pandit Nayan Ghosh has offered the baithak hall of his Sangeet Mahabharati in Juhu. "This exploitation is a new phenomenon and if we allow it to continue, Indian art forms will be reduced to hobbies," Dogra said.
Free speech for all
He's not one to mince his words, though he does add a dash of humour to every performance. So, when stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra uploaded an interview with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as part of his Shut Up Ya Kunal videos, it brought to the fore serious issues like mob lynching, lack of faith in democracy and 85 per cent reservation in Delhi colleges.
Apart from the content, another thing that caught our eye was the "free speech" T-shirt that Kamra was wearing. It is one that has been designed by rapper Sumit Roy, who has been making all the right noises with the release of songs with political messages like Poorna Swaraj, which, incidentally, saw the light of day when Kamra urged Roy to release it.
"Kamra wore it because we all bind to the idea of free speech. I want the T-shirts to become a movement of sorts. Because, why not make just the words 'free speech' cool?" Roy told this diarist.
They will be back
When The Quarter opened in late 2017 in the same complex as the Royal Opera House in Girgaum, it created the sort of splash that most new venues in the city can only dream about. The place had three different components — a café, restaurant, and an intimate jazz club that came as a lifeline for independent musicians in the city starved of quality venues in which to ply their craft.
But the place has been closed for two weeks, for renovations, we are told. We called up co-founder Ashutosh Pathak but he remained tight-lipped about what the changes will be and when The Quarter is expected to reopen. But he did tell us, "We will be making a formal announcement soon about something exciting that's coming up."
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