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What we did not say about The Blue Mug

July 15, 2009

I can’t stand journalists who don’t take notes. I can’t stand journalists who pretend to listen. And I hate them even more if they work for Mid-Day.

So, if you know this hack, put a stiletto in her back for me.

But first, the background.

On the evening of June 27, the wife and I watched Atul Kumar’s The Blue Mug at Ranga Shankara. While we thought it was entertaining on the whole, we wondered what the whole effing point was…

Childhood’s End? Or Happy North Indian Mammary Memories?

Or just haphazard, disjointed vignettes that entertain in a clunky Theatre of the Absurd way?

We’re not sure. We still talk about it. Because we’re not serious, anally retentive theatre critics but regular arty-farty people with long hair, pierced noses, jobs to do and a kid to bring up.

So, while we laughed our arses off at Ranvir Shorey’s excellent portrayal of the lunatic with no memory, and marvelled at Vinay Pathak’s ‘dance of the pervert’ with Sheeba Chadha, what we really saw was a series of cameos, well played but slightly threadbare.

And what really got my goat was the stage design. Okay, we know Ranga Shankara has a smallish stage, but dangling giant blackboards from the rafters right in front was not the smartest design – some of us in the corners couldn’t see what was happening on stage. So, like a blind man at the movies, I had to follow Rajat Kapoor with my ears when he chose to linger at the back.

But The Blue Mug was worth watching for Rs 200 a head. And thanks to the big names on the billboard, we sat in a packed house where at least two people in the row ahead of us were flatulent. I must tell the nice lady at the cafe not to serve samosas before the play starts.

Well, so we milled around with the other voyeurs after the play, hoping to see how the dramatis personae kept up without their makeup. And we did.

It’s sad, but despite Rajat Kapoor‘s string of subsequent achievements, I always remember him for the paedophile that he played in Monsoon Wedding. Konkona Sen Sharma, the missus and I agreed, was a lot more personable in person than the extreme close-ups we’ve been used to seeing of her mug, blue or otherwise, most recently in Luck by Chance. Ranvir, I think, has a new camera. And will someone in the know tell us: Is Vinay Pathak gay or just a Bombaywallah with an incipient ponytail and a slick shoulder bag?

On our way out, we were stopped by a young woman in an autorickshaw (for a moment, my mind drifted back to an unnerving memory of being accosted by a nubile nocturnal professional on Juhu-Tara Link Road in Mumbai many years ago). It was safe to talk to this woman, we presumed, when she introduced herself as a journalist. She was in a desperate hurry to get some quotes, it seemed. Driving back, I told my wife that we were going to be horribly misquoted because the chick had no Dictaphone or suchlike recording device. Neither was she taking notes, besides our names and… ahem, our ages (she got them right for the most part).

In hindsight, it may have been safer to talk to a nocturnal professional.

Our names have since appeared in Mid-Day, linked to statements that we never uttered. The journalist quotes me as saying: “What was very encouraging was the actors gave each other space and the celebrities in the play did not swallow the rest. It was a display of healthy team spirit.”

Healthy team spirit?! What do you take me for – an HR manager?!

Balderdash!

What I said was that the play’s denouement was an attempted mindfuck. I can understand the reluctance of a journalist to bowdlerise a semi-expletive, but my hunch is that  Ms Hack didn’t know what denouement meant, or how to spell it.

As for my wife, she was interviewed in my presence and I’m certain she said nothing of the sort. When I showed her this article she said: “This has to be some cosmic conspiracy, or a divine message that is incomprehensible!”

I’m relieved that Ms Tanu Kulkarni wasn’t quoting us as eyewitnesses to a rape or murder or something.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Rajeev permalink
    July 15, 2009 4:00 pm

    Hahahaha! Don’t I know about the perils of interacting with the paraphrasing penparazzi? Mid-Day Mumbai (hmmm!) after a brief interview and even briefer conversation with us about Filth (Irvine Welsh’s yarn about a deranged cop in Ireland), published an article crowned by this headline in Arial Bold, size 45: “Men in Khaki are scum of the earth”. D-uh!? Of course, we braced ourselves for a full onslaught by aforesaid men, but they must have been busy that morning. Or they too have distanced themselves from the Mid-Day Mumble scheme.

  2. vinay pathak permalink
    February 4, 2010 4:06 am

    hi bijoy,
    loved your review/take/dig at the blue mug. (I mean it)
    I am not a homosexual (Until now at least),and my being divorced with two kids have nothing to do with it. 🙂
    The pony tail was for a job.
    and I was born in bhojpur, bihar, and my bhojpuri is more chaste, pure and together than any other language that i claim to attempt. My English and my writing skills are embarrassing as you can see…
    bombaywallah i would like to become if the right wing marathi manoos attorneys are kind(and oblivious) enough, but yes, Bombay is my home for the last decade and a half. Why am i telling you all this? I thought perhaps you really were wondering, or may be not. Your writing is very (cynical) and earnest. I like it.

    I also read some of the other stuff you wrote here…
    you are very good at your job.
    35+ is a good age for such fire n cynicism…
    keep it up my friend, and stay intact.

    Pl convey my regards to your wife…She seems to be the brave one.
    🙂
    P.S. I am so glad you found the bag slick.

  3. February 4, 2010 4:17 pm

    Vinay, what a pleasant surprise to hear from you! Thank you for reading my blog — my Google Analytics report does confirm that you snooped around!

    You’re a very funny guy and I’m a big fan of your roles in Mithya and Bheja Fry (I’m sure you hear a lot of that) and I loved Johnny Gaddaar. I watched an adaptation of An Idiot for Dinner at Ranga Shankara (where The Blue Mug was performed) and I wanted to thrash the guy who played the role that you essayed in the movie – especially when the idiots in the audience started to find him funny. He was terrible.

    I’m glad you dropped by and clarified the details about your, er, orientation and other things – or I would have to rely on third-generation gossip to find out. A Bombaywallah is any day preferable to a Mumbaikar – and the same goes for anyone anywhere who wants to cut up and poison this nation.

    And the ponytail – mine is longer now so I don’t have to be envious 🙂

    Someday, when I have read enough about you that you would be willing to argue with me about, I’d like to talk to you about your life — you seem to have led a picturesque one. Not a plug story but a real intimate profile of a slightly funny, slightly sad and enormously interesting man. The last one I read about you that interested me was in M magazine, where I also write.

    Hope you drop by again. Good luck for the next big thing!

    Btw, that was a really nice bag!

  4. February 22, 2010 12:53 am

    I read ur review even before watching The Blue mug.. so I watchd it with a prejudice at rangsharda mumbai. As vinay said you are good at your job..

  5. February 25, 2010 12:11 am

    Hey Anand,
    Sorry about ruining it for you.
    The Blue Mug wasn’t all that bad, was it?

  6. Kusum Rohra permalink
    March 4, 2010 1:34 pm

    Hi Bijoy,

    I’ve moved to Chennai from Mumbai(where I watched 5 plays a month on an average and mostly at Prithvi Theatre). Blue Mug is playing in Chennai and while I was really intrested in the play because of the cast and mainly Rajat Kapoor( I simply love his play Hamlet-The clown prince), I had my doubts. You review is making me wonder if I should spend a good 500 per head and our Saturday-night-movies-in-bed for it. Sigh.

    Note to self: If you want to go just go, do not sit and look for reviews. Beh!

  7. March 4, 2010 10:58 pm

    Kusum, I agree with your ‘Note to self’. It’s a play, not a movie. Plays have their good days and lousy ones. And the dramatis personae are pretty good. I hope you can go watch it, enjoy it and come back here and trash this review and call me an opinionated jerk. Really.

  8. March 6, 2010 9:59 pm

    goodness, if this review had been dated tomorrow, i would have wondered if you were the guy i spoke to in the lobby of the music academy, who beat me to writing the review! agree with you completely. about rajat, konkana, and the play.
    individual performances, esp vinay and ranvir, were outstanding. rest of the play, uh-uh.
    and the ‘tweak,’ 🙂 is that what they were trying to do to our minds?

  9. March 8, 2010 5:53 pm

    Tweak! Yeah, that really put me off. Total mindf&*k.

  10. March 14, 2010 2:37 pm

    I agree with your review, it has its moments and was entertaining on the whole without really having much of an effing point 🙂 I simply loved Ranvir’s performance, for me the play belonged to him, I kept waiting for him to return.Liked his ek rupiya ke liye murgi ki G**nd phaad dun kya joke 😀 and his statement “Kya totta thi” reminded me of my love for the punju language. I miss it so much in Chennai 😦

    In BTW if I call you an opinionated jerk, wouldn’t that be a compliment? Tch tch tch some people fish so blatantly for compliment these days. Sigh. 😛

  11. May 6, 2010 10:38 pm

    Thank you. This was very insightful. I’m doing a preview of the play, minus any relevant information,and haphazard organization in the US.

  12. May 7, 2010 10:19 am

    🙂 Thanks for your compliment. It feels nice to be thought as opinionated, and even better as a jerk!

  13. May 7, 2010 10:20 am

    Have fun! You have a nice website, btw.

  14. May 7, 2010 4:41 pm

    Thanks Bijoy.
    I will be reviewing the play and now I’m pretty curious as to why such stellar artists are in it going by most of the reviews I’ve read.
    Looks like the Blue Mug is giving most people the blues!

  15. July 3, 2011 9:02 pm

    I guess this is first of the reviews I am reading about a play on the net, usually I happen to read in the newspapers. Thanks Bijoy for pointing to this.
    Interestingly Vinay Pathak choose to get back to you heeeh 😀 and I am hoping you guyz have already met by now to clear any further doubts. Yeah, most of what comes out in the newsprints are deteriorated altercations of whatever their interviewee spoke about. It’s pathetic! I don’t know how old the script of The Blue Mug is, if you let me call a script that is, but I should say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some parts where Sheeba was impressing upon seemed to lose my attention but it was Vinay and Ranvir who really kept me alive yesterday at Ranga Shankara.

  16. Vivek Srivastava permalink
    July 26, 2011 4:21 pm

    The play is hilarious. However, I came out with a feeling of having seen a visual collage which fails to integrate into a whole. I wonder whether the play would have made such huge reputation if it had actors of lesser (or no) fame. The acting is indeed superb but in the absence of a binding theme, it remains essentially a collection of phattas and a few drops of other emotions.

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