Jan 30, 2009

Anjor-Kaaya, the musical

Liberation. Something that we all dream about. Something which is close to 'nirvana'. Liberation is closely tied with arts somehow; as is captured in this photograph that Vinokur took during his hippie days. The setting is Manhattan - at the Guggenheim museum. Apparently Vinokur was standing across the street from the Guggenheim and this bus with 'Liberty' printed on it happened to pass by. The folk-lore goes on to mention that he was good enough 'capture the moment' as is demonstrated vide infra.

Here's what Vinokur would caption the picture 'As a bus named Liberty passed in front of a revered expression of freedom in the arts (Wright's masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum), the camera's shutter opened and closed.' It's a shame that he is so lazy that he wouldn't care enough to showcase his repertoire to the world, don't you think?

Life doesn't always allow everyone his/her share of equality, or better 'liberty' in this case. I allege the medical training as the reason for me to be suffering from the injustice of being left out from arts, literature, history and all the other 'essential' traits of a gay man. I shamefully accept that I can't blame anyone but myself for not indulging in all of this - I wasn't a rich heir living the land of dreams who could do anything with their life without worrying about the mundane necessities of a third world life after all! I do this rather passively - excepting of course delving in performing music.

Some other third-world-ers took it a couple of steps ahead. I was a witness to that the other night and it was enchanting. I might be a very 'soft' critic but I am not lying. I was invited to 'Anjor-Kaaya', an experimental musical written and performed by 'professionals' from various other 'professions' - I use inverted commas to be cynical about the media and the society which felicitate these to some higher level as compared to others - like doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. One of my friends, a microbiologist, the co-writer and performer in the play, had invited me for it.

I was late. I was late by about half an hour. Ashamed, I walked in and found a couple of 'phallow gay frens' sitting right at the back. One of them was about to leave attributing his desire to attend a rock-concert somewhere else. The other one, the more-established connoisseur of art, whose cynical tendencies were rather unpublicized, was to give me company. It took a while for me to get 'into' the play. It was a fantastical story based on a wishing-fountain. Many different stories of unfortunate people from the cross section of society - an estranged teenage girl who sells umbrellas in the streets, a painter whose art goes unrecognized, a dancer who becomes quadriplegic, a mother whose son runs away from home - all were unfolded in front of the fountain which is titled 'Anjor-Kaaya'.

The script was written in old-school hindi, something which I was used to thanks to 'Doordarshan' and 'Vividbharti' from my childhood, and it elicited the reaction of the romantic poet inside me. The stories themselves were painful enough to let the language unfurl it's adjectives and allegories poignantly. The combination of the two sounded like music to my mind and I was fascinated. My friend on the other hand was ruminating about what was wrong and what could be done to undo it. I wished I could agree with him. It was extremely hard and I found respite in one aspect - the background score. I thought it could have been written better and produced way, way better. It's ironic how I suddenly jumped into being a harsher critic in a topic that was familiar to me.

Anjor and Kaaya, by the way, were evergreen, immortal lovers who would try to make the wishes of the people come true by following instructions given in little parchments. There were a lot of interesting aspects in their own characterization with issues like jealousy being dealt with in shades of poetry. The fact that they chose colours and their combinations to find solutions to the problems that the people came to them was suggestive about the diversity in which the society is immersed in and how harmony can be achieved by the appropriate combination of the different elements. A very strong message about and to society, I felt.

More importantly, the actual issues in the present day society were highlighted and presented in a very attractive, romantic method. I don't see that often these days - the stuff that we get to see these days is harsher and cynical about everything relevant. The fact that the entire crew behind this effort were people from different walks of society not trained in drama was probably something which is given far too much attention. My friend, for example, chose to highlight that fact as their only redemption. I disagree. I agree with him about only one point - things could be improved in so many ways - to make it classier, to appeal to the 'art-lovers' who are engrossed with pre-defined notions. Ah, what they miss out on, the message, the sheer elegance of the content.

I applaud my friend and the entire team of Anjor-Kaaya for making me feel closer to being liberated. Thank you!

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