I love watching theater. Unlike the serials, I feel theater is more dynamic and versatile space for exploring acting while not being overpowered by the huge set. I always enjoyed Shirley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theater a show run in Doordarshan in early 1980s. The fact that it was centered around fairy tales, was my fantasy icing of my priced cake.
My first experience with acting was in a short story that I converted into a play. It was very badly managed by me. I found out that I was the worst actor of all and there was no way that I am going to have a career as an actor.
That day, when I watched on while my acting career came to an unceremonious end, I was not unhappy but yeah, felt a little bad that I couldn’t retain dialogue in my memory to save my skin. I cannot act to save my skin, period. So, I have given up on that dream, but I could not give up my love for theaters, at least watching them as an active onlooker.
So, about a couple of Mondays back, I was watching merely by chance the free few minutes of Rangmanch and I was in hook line and sinker. After hurried quick missed call to the 1800 number for adding the channel, I was officially in and I could watch theaters until I am ready to drop down from the overload. My very first drama that I watched was “Sandhya Chaya” which I rather freakishly translate into “Shadows of the Evening” and it was quietly moving since I could relate to it.
The story was about two elderly parents with their children all settled in life one as a army personnel and other in US as a Software Engineer married to a foreigner. This is so true that westerners with some exception are fascinated with India for its culture, hospitality and eatery. They would rather have all this but not the hard truths of life. The elderly people are looking for human contact which is slowly lost since they don’t share the similar realities to make any kind of connect.
The parents land up pleading to the son to settle in India, while he finds more meaning in the western horizon and less on eastern ghats of hardship. I have lived in US and enjoyed some of the facilities that was available in various transports, banks and eateries. The roti, kapada and makan was handled with ease. Back here the scenario is improving but at a slower rate. The banks are a little too difficult to handle even now after having gained over four years of experience. It has taken me six months to close a bank account in India which I accomplished in relative ease with Wells Fargo in US under a single day. I loved being the customer of Well Fargo so much that I was reluctant to give up the account.
I do see the huge bridge of comfort that is lacking in India which the US makes it an on-demand requirement met instantly. So, I understood the reluctance of the Son to shift to India and naturally the conversation dwindles to be replaced with a wall of silence.
The parents eventually give up their life which I don’t feel is the right kind of end. It is a seriously hard life for people with disability and old age to live in India where the hospitals where low income people visit don’t have even a ramp for the wheelchair patients.
So, growing old in India is rather very excruciatingly painful for the aging populace if they are not healthy and wealthy. The fact that these thoughts are not addressed in general conversation where the talks are centered around pseudo-positive outcomes of having children in US. I have been witness to the empty pride that I found in such parents to rattle off some distant land’s city or state that marked them as a citizen of US.
The next drama that I saw was “Vaastav” and it was violently beautiful. I also saw “Ma Retire Ho Rahe Hai” played by Reema Lagoo. Excellent representation, I believe even Jayaji had done this role. But I really loved Reema’s interpretation. Yes I feel it is time that we say ‘mother you may retire and pursue your desires.’ But unfortunately, the mother has lost her physical strength to pursue her dreams. Because all mothers bank their entire life’s nest egg in her children. That is when I feel that mother should distance herself from her children once they reach an age and let them take over the caring of their selves.
Parents in India are all centered around their children. Their entire life’s struggle is for them and no one else. Despite the hardship they handover their old selves to their children who are focused on rushing ahead in their life that there is reluctance to walk with the aging parents at their pace. It takes a lot of effort and stoic determination to take on the challenges of finding ones own network of sole ownership of life in eventide.
I think Reema got that out rather with the right touch of female freedom to be independent and self-aware. The plays in the Rangamanch is rather interesting and socially sensitive. The fact that over the years I have learned to appreciate theater for it expanse and contracts of ideas that move the mental space to look at life in general and face upto, so as to address the uncomfortable talk spaces of real emotions.