Compiled by Nishita Jha
Imitations Of flattery
Given the persistent rumours of Priyanka Chopra’s romance with a married actor, it seemed fitting that she was chosen to perform a tribute to the legendary Rekha who had perhaps of the most whispered-about extramarital affairs in India. At the IIFA Awards in Singapore, our Piggy Chops chose to go the whole hog, by making thinly-veiled comments about the object of her affections to the press — something Rekha has been notorious for doing at award ceremonies through the decades. When asked about her latest film, PC admitted to being a die-hard romantic who believes in soulmates: “There is one person for everyone,” she simpered, “but whether you end up living with him or not is a different question.” We hear your mannat, love.
While science-fiction fans mourned the demise of writer Ray Bradbury, undeniably one of the coolest storytellers ever, we could not help but cringe at another attempt by Amitabh Bachchan to appear “with it”. Admitting he had never read Bradbury, Bachchan insisted that reading his “quotes”, somehow made him feel like he had read the author’s works. Sigh. Should we stop watching your films now that we have read your tweets, Mr B?
Hema Malini suddenly seems to have an opinion on everything that’s going down. In this week’s bulletin, Ms Malini stated the new President should really be a “non-political candidate”, given that s/he does not wield much power, and should be someone who “knows a lot”. Are we sensing the birth of new ambition, now that daughter Esha Deol is leaving home in wedded bliss? In a perfect world, this would be a decision made by dance-off between Rajya Sabha MPs — Rekha, Hema and Jaya.
(Proving no one is ever old enough for an MMS-enabled phone)
Perhaps worried about being overtaken by the karma-truck, Salman Khan seems to be on a relationship-mending spree. Recently, he went to town praising Katrina Kaif’s hard work and dedication on the sets of Ek Tha Tiger, even conceding that Kat was a more disciplined actor than him. This week, he was seen escorting exflame Sangeeta Bijlani for a late show of The Avengers, unmindful for once of gleeful paparazzi. We’re half-expecting to see photos of Khan at a baby store next, shopping for goodies for a certain Ms Rai and her Baby B.
‘Devdasis are the mouthpiece of the modern Indian woman’
WHO Pune-based Siddiqui runs the experimental theatre company Orchestrated Q’Works (OQ). She has written three full-length and several one-act plays. Her story,Making Out, has been published in Urban Shots: The Love Collection.
Tell us about experimental theatre and OQ.
I started exploring experimental theatre in college, not realising it was a proper form. There was no money for conventional theatre. I started Orchestrated Q’Works with like-minded people, out of a certain vanity. We believed we could put forth messages better than anyone. Theatre shouldn’t be elitist. It’s a tool for empowerment. I want OQ to change the world.
What influenced your play, White Noise, on commercial sex workers?
I’ve read about and seen theatrical performances by Devdasis. Unlike what we think, they don’t victimise themselves. They have more control over life than most women today. Once you’ve sold your body, there is nothing left to hide. Most women have to mind their Ps and Qs. Devdasis speak their mind. Thus they are the mouthpiece of the modern Indian woman. That’s why I wrote a script about sex workers. In the performance, OQ uses contact improvisation. An actor recites the verses and dances sensuously, while behind a white screen, we enact a character being raped.
How has Saadat Hassan Manto influenced you?
Toba Tek Singh was my first Indian-themed play. It made me aware of how Partition has been the cause of terrorism. Manto had a romanticised idea of women as silent observers. Yet, he told their stories. In one, a Jewish girl, Mozelle, sacrifices her dignity to help a Muslim boy. He didn’t put women up on a pedestal; they were real characters. He spoke about sex without making it a big deal.
Does your ideology show in your scripts?
I don’t like admitting it, but I am a feminist. The word has a scary stereotype attached to it — of women who hate men. But I do have a problem with item numbers and female actors used as stage props. I have women dress up to play male roles and vice versa. I also adapt the male roles in a script to be played by women.