Today, I went to Ranga Shankara to watch a play called Butter and Mashed Banana. Here is the description of the play from the Ranga Shankara website.

Butter and Mashed Banana is a hilariously funny take on freedom of speech in our country. It goes from three actors in real life to three characters on stage caught up in a frenzy of activity ranging from International best sellers that are made into Oscar winning films to instant stardom and conflicting ideologies. The story revolves around a boy who goes on to become a world-famous writer, but faces rabid opposition to anything he tries to say or do back home in India. Interspersed with music and movement the play tangentially takes digs at ideology and censorship, among other things. Although its intent is to entertain, the play is a result of dissatisfaction over how poorly the freedom of speech is protected. Like it says in the play, there is always someone in this country waiting to tell you… "Don't you dare say that!" Created as a satirical farce, Butter and Mashed Banana uses dance, movement and live music to heighten the funny elements.

I have spent my entire childhood at a small town called Rajgangpur where my father works in OCL India Limited. There used to be plays, cultural performances and pravachans in the company auditorium where I used to go and enjoy. Also, cultural activities in my school, Dalmia Vidya Mandir, almost always included an English play, a Hindi play, a solo song, a group song and a classical dance from each house (We were divided into three houses: Vivek, Vikas and Vinay). Having lived in such an environment, I still retain an interest in plays as well as classical songs and dances. When, I came to Bangalore, I knew about Ranga Shankara but I was always too lazy to make an effort of booking a ticket for myself and going there alone.

Luckily, today, a few friends asked me to join them to the play. So, we arrived at Ranga Shankara at 7:20 PM, 10 minutes before the play would start and found some seats for the five of us. We realized that we should reach there at least half an hour before the scheduled time to get better seats, the ones that are aligned parallely to the stage and provide the best view. The play started almost on time and I enjoyed most of it. There were three actors and one guitarist. I found it very different from the plays I have watched before. Each actor was not playing just one character. The actors danced and moved around the stage assuming different characters in different situations. When the play began, one actor played the role of a father and the other played the role of a mother. The third actor played the role of a new born baby. He was also the narrator. Half an hour later, when the new born baby had grown up to be an Oscar winner, the first two actors played the role of journalists asking questions to the third actor after the Oscar ceremony was over. Five minutes later, one of the first two actors was making threatening calls to the Oscar winner.

The play made a lot of sense to me. These days, when I am with my close friends, most of the funny things I say are satirical reflections on how some people try to define what our culture is and how these people harass those who do not agree with or follow their definitions. The play was trying to express a similar idea and so, I enjoyed it a lot.

From the Ranga Shankara calendar it seems that they have a play on each day of the week except Monday. The one on the weekends are mostly in English. So, I will try to go there more often, probably every weekend if I get some company from friends, colleagues or anyone else.

3 comments

Prasoon said:

Had seen it and as usual forgot it totally. I remember the birth scene now that you remind it. All that I remember us that I enjoyed the play totally then when I saw it about an year or more ago.

Paritosh said:

Hmmm... Heavy stuff!! One of my cousins is also into theater, she has been asking me (well coaxing me actually) for so many weekends to come for her plays. Will probably go and see one just to please her :).

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