Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Blue Mug

Cast: Konkana Sen Sharma. Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Sheeba Chadha & Munish Bhardwaj

This play, I watched in Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore.
With a lot of anticipation.

While Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Sheeba Chadha & Munish Bhardwaj carry one thread, Konkana Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey carry another thread in the same play.

For some reason, the experience of watching this play seems to me, analogous to the experience of reading Somerset Maugham’s ‘Moon & Six pence’.
This is true of many plays I have seen of late.

The book has no story as such, but you will enjoy it for its literary splendor, for the beauty and power of language.
More than all else, you will be thankful for the details that it dwells upon, details dredged from the depths of the common consciousness of humanity and hence, details, that all people, at once, will be able to relate to.
Details that will serve to verify all of our preconceptions and hence remove our fears and assure us of our normalness.

The Blue Mug and other plays of its kind take us through a similar experience.
There is no story as such, but you will enjoy it for the beauty and power of rendition, for the talent of the actors, for the details that it dwells upon – details that all of us have chosen to forget, that we believe do not matter.
Details that when explored seriously by six actors on stage, became important and grave as they were the stuff we were are made of. An important source of our identity.

The blue mug is all about memories.

One part of the play attempts to show how we are defined by what we remember. The other part shows how we are defined also by what we have forgotten.
The two are interspersed – with alternating scenes from the two threads.

Fragments of memories are recalled by four actors - Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Sheeba Chadha & Munish Bhardwaj. Memories of incidents from various stages of growing- Childhood, teenage and adulthood. Past and present. People and places. Happy, unhappy, delightful, funny, pleasant and unpleasant memories.

The actors do share stage space, but they do not particularly interact with one another, instead take turns to narrate their piece, giving the whole play a solitary air.

What one should not miss is the rendition. Dialogues are very well delivered; natural and effortless. They certainly bring out the laughs. They speak in the accent of the people they are talking to us about; the expressions on their faces and the intonations in their voices help to bring the incident to life.

Vinay Pathak I remember was very powerful.

Another, parallel thread has Konkana Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey occupying the corners of the front of the stage and engaged in a conversation.

During the course of exchanges between them, it becomes clear that Konkana is trying to help Ranvir whose memory seems to have betrayed him.
A 40 year old still clings to a time 20 years ago and has not moved on since. He suffers from short term memory loss and cannot recollect what happened 20 minutes ago but vividly remembers details of what happened in his childhood. He has lost sense of time and has forgotten who he is and where he is. He lives in a world of the past and has no awareness of the present.

Ranvir has done a brilliant job of acting. Throughout his scenes, he speaks in a typical Punjabi accent. It must have taken him a lot of practice to master all the nuances of the Punjabi people, their culture, their style etc. Towards the end, his acting becomes very intense and cannot fail to move the spectator.

I returned home after the play, thinking of how without our becoming aware, memories of real incidents sometimes merge with our imaginations, how the imaginary conversations we have all the time with people – real and imaginary - and imaginary incidents smudge the clear contours of our memory and how the real and imagined become indistinguishable…

It is the prowess of the individual actors that will remain in the memory of the audience as all the rest – the incidents narrated, the lines, the laughs – will eventually sink into the abyss of forgetting…


notgogol said...

My mom had gone to catch this play in Chennai. She came back with only one question - where was the bloody blue mug? :P

Sowmya said...


There was a brief mention of it... This guy comes home and finds that his fav blue mug was broken - either by the maid or his wife...

Its a fashion these days to be unpredictable - whether or not it makes sense...