Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Karl Marx and the Importance of Loitering

The sewage pits below my office have been opened for cleaning. Black gross liquid is strewn across the path that leads into the building. The first day I walked there, I was trying my best to not get any of that goo on my feet. That is, until I saw a man standing chest deep in the pit, cleaning it.

It's a little like what happens when Karl Marx appears in Kalba Devi. From the bookmyshow info of the play, also titled Karl Marx In Kalbadevi, I had already been introduced to the idea of him having lunch at Bhagat Tarachand - something that he also mentions a lot of time over the course of the play. What he only talks about once is the homeless people he comes across when he comes out of the place.
Karl Marx In Kalbadevi (KMIK) follows a very casual narrative jumping from autobiographical pieces to fictional encounters as he hangs around Mumbai with the director of the play Manoj Shah. Written by popular Gujarati writer Uttam Gada, the play is in no way 'Marxism in 90 minutes' or anything of that sort. Instead communal philosophies get gently sprinkled across hilarious accounts by Marx.

KMIK is funny, unapologetic and subtle but sharp in a running commentary about the state of things in the country and about communism across the globe in general. While I neither identify as a person with leftist or rightist ideologies, watching this monument of a man tear down discrimination and economic imbalance is throughly enjoyable.

But the best part about the play is definitely actor Satchit Puranik. When you walk into the auditorium, his Marx is fast asleep on the floor and the director of the play himself has to walk on stage to wake him up. But once he gets up and starts talking, there is no looking back. Both the pace of the play and Puranik's energies keep soaring and you in their grasp. I'm the kind of person not used to sitting in one place and often find myself squirming in the seats during the best kind of plays. But miraculously enough, I was completely unaware of when I sloped or sat up. When the play got over, I was left hungry for much more of this conversation.
Puranik in the play

This isn't the first time Satchit Puranik has left me inspired. I ran into him a couple of times at Writers' Bloc and the one incident that stayed was his panel discussion about the book, play and movement - Why Loiter?

Firstly a little about Why Loiter. This is a book written by three women in the year 2006. Mentioning their gender becomes important here because of the content of the book. They pose a simple question - why aren't women allowed to loiter around?
It's not something to which a lot of us have given a thought before. Certainly not me.

The book then grew to be a movement initiated by a wonderful girl called Neha Singh. She realized that the only answer to this question is actually going out and wandering. Soon girls in Rajasthan were loitering in pubs and bars while girls across the border were stepping out too. Men were walking around in dresses on Juhu Beach.

And one of those men was Satchit Puranik. Puranik turned Why Loiter into a play. This wasn't exactly a scripted dramatic performance. Instead it was real people walking on stage and recalling their stories to an audience. There's not much I can talk about the play, not having seen it. But I intend to watch it really really soon, because how can I not?

Now here's why I say this event also left me inspired. About a couple of weeks ago, a friend suggested that we have a rendezvous at this shady bar she and I like to frequent for it's impeccable Prawns Curry. We generally sit at the table closest to the door and she isn't free from the stares of the other only-men customers of the place. This time however, it wasn't just her and me. It was three other female friends as well. I prod them into going in without me at first, and they went straight to a table upstairs, in the AC room. None of that sitting by the door, 'because girls aren't meant to be here'. Girls are meant to be everywhere.

The men stared (more in surprise than in perversion) while the girls chattered and laughed on. I have to confess, I was a little uncomfortable myself because fighting the good fight for the opposite gender is often tricky and looked down upon here.

The night didn't end there. An hour or so later, we were at Marine Drive reading poetry and smoking cigarettes. It's something I regularly do with my guy friends, but 'taking girls with me' at 2 pm is a questionable choice. But when we sat there, I was no longer thinking about how all four of them were my responsibility. I nodded off on Marine Drive itself, while the girl continued their fiesta.

So there you go. 'Hence, LOITER'. And that play might not be on anytime soon (and this post is a little late for when another show of KMIK was scheduled) but if you manage to watch either of them, tell me what you think!

1 comment:

  1. thank you for this. Reinstates my faith in the movement and that good ideas will always find a way to spread and blossom. :) keep going!