There was a pin drop silence. Not only my friend, but everybody around looked at me with surprise.
For non-Pune people, let me inform you that 'Bharat' stands for 'Bharat Natya Mandir' - a drama theater named after the legendary Bharat Muni - the writer of Natyashastra. Bharat is a landmark in Pune - everybody is supposed to know that.
I understood the silence. But since long ago, I have inculcated the habit of not getting embarrassed. After all, what is wrong if I do not get connected to the places easily?
True, that I have a long time association with Pune city. But people conveniently ignore me when I tell them that 'I am a non-resident Punekar'. I am so much out of Pune, that I hardly know Pune well. And there are innumerable small roads connecting Bajirao Road and Tilak road, which always confuse me. It is like traveling through unknown parts of the world. Add to it frequently changing 'one-way', 'no entry' rules and you have much more confusion and irritation. Walking is bit easier (!) in Pune than using any other transport mechanism.
Once I had some work in a cloth shop at Laxmi road. They had application forms for Vipassana - this is long ago when internet and online registration was not there. So, I called up the shop to get the directions. I requested the person 'to give me some landmarks so that I can easily find out the shop." The person was so non-plussed, he told me "our shop is the LANDMARK' and cut me off. I am sure, he must have told the incident to many people.
But why was I going to Bharat? Oh! On Republic Day, a group of youngsters from a very small village, was presenting a drama on 'Right to Information Act'. The title was interesting, the theme was interesting, so I decided to go. I realize that I am not much of a drama viewer. Somehow there are so many dramatic things happening around, there is so much drama in daily changing world and human relationships, that I do not need to go to theaters to 'watch' drama - I am constantly doing that.
Though Drama is an important aspect of Marathi culture, this was only the fourth drama I was watching. I have participated in role plays and street plays a lot, but somehow beyond that I never had inclination for drama. Once while crossing the road, I just thought of watching a drama, had enough money in the pocket, so purchased a ticket and watched that drama alone. That was the first drama I had watched. I do not remember the name of that drama.
Once in Mumbai, a friend of friend, who then was a very famous actress, insisted that we watch her famous drama. She finally sent couple of free tickets to us, and then we watched that drama. Savita Damodar Paranjape was the name - not of the actress but of the drama (well! I am not sure of it! ) One of my friends used to act in commercial dramas, she had invited me many times. To respect her feelings, I watched her too - do not remember the name. So, this was only the fourth drama I was watching.
I have nothing against Cinema and Drama etc. I think I am not cut for it. I am not eligible to enjoy those. I find them rather artificial. They are time consuming (advance booking of tickets, sitting for hours in uncomfortable chairs etc.) and costly. I never had that kind of money to spend on entertainment. So, I guess I never turned to that! If people enjoy, I have no objection to it. I only know that I cannot enter into their world. It is not for me and I am not for it.
This drama on 'Right to Information Act' too was bit boring. I appreciate the local youths (both boys and girls, some adults) - their acting and energy level was superb. Their hard work could be understood. I could imagine what stress, what fight, what convincing they must have to go through to reach this stage. For someone coming from a small village, to act in a theater at Pune is a dream coming true, and I was happy to see them enjoying the limelight. I was touched by the action of the crowd - who gave the actors standing ovation and the claps never ended. It was a joyful moment, and very moving.
But still the drama was boring. I think it is always convenient to be a spectator. If a writer/director presents stereotypical characters, people like me would criticize them for not presenting anything new. If the duo presents something new, people like me would criticize them for not being realistic. So, I won't comment much on that. I did not like something does not necessarily mean that it was not good. It is just a matter of perception, nothing wrong or right in perceptions!
Anyway, next time I will probably not spend time to watch drama enacted in a theater. I would much prefer to watch the drama going on around me everyday - in the human world and in the non-human world too. Sometimes I act in those dramas... I laugh, I get irritated, I get frustrated, I enjoy, I smile, I feel sad.. .and so does everybody around me.
May be I should spend time .. just to watch the actors enjoying the art of acting.. that was indeed most interesting!