Where are you, my audience?

This is take on change in the social fabric vis a vis plays, movies and entertainment industry, in general.

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Sunil Barve actor, producer and a friend, wrote an article about a Marathi play produced by him under the banner Herbarium 2. Herbarium is a collection of preserved plants stored, catalogued, and arranged systematically for study later. The idea is to look at the plants and leaves after enough time has passed, and to view them in posterity. Sunil named his endeavor Herbarium for the old plays to be  enjoyed nostalgically after 3 to 4 decades. Herbarium 1, was extremely successful where Sunil revived five old Marathi plays, in 2010. The response from audience was exceptional, to say the least. Each drama had 25 performances all over Maharashtra. Herbarium 2, started with a Marathi play, Pati Gele Ga Kathewadi पती गेले काठेवाडी. This was in September 2017.

SunilPatiGele

Sunil wrote the article in surprise, to the reaction from the audience; he said where has the audience gone? It was just a matter of seven years. In that period, very good response for Herbarium 1, switched to ok response in Herbarium 2. Sunil was wondering what could have happened during this period? Sunil and I spoke on phone on the subject. I think that these seven years were crucial years where the generation which was nostalgic about the old plays, became much older and the younger people were not very keen about those plays.

Life meanders in a way where old likes & dislikes change, new thought processes come up, new technologies and media like Netflix become popular. The traditions and social ethos change with time. We may feel that certain things continue and do not change much. But they do change, though subtly! For example, foods and food habits change over a period. In my childhood drinking coffee in Maharashtra was almost non-existent; now we have so many coffee-shops and bistros. Drinking alcohol during my school times was taboo but now it is a socially accepted drink. Stadiums used to be full for Test matches, but slowly one-day matches took over; T-20 was the next step but IPL jamboree is the most popular now.

50’s in the last century had movies which were themes based on nation which had just earned freedom, मेरे देश की धरती सोना उगले, उगले हिरे मोती. 60’s films were more of sad stories and love stories. Then in the next decade came angry young man movies. So, trends keep on changing. Now the popular movies are, Salman Khan type of movies like Dabang. Connoisseurs of movies may like art movies with subtle stories, but general populace prefers Dabang. Connoisseurs may call such movies gross, but life’s realities are different! Ultimately, making movies and producing plays is business and their success will be dependent the masses and not classes. 

Connoisseurs of dramas would rather see Herbarium 1, but this number is dwindling. Are the days of such revivals numbered? Do people really care for plays in which Dr. Lagoo, Satish Dubashi, Nilu Phule and Kashinath Ghanekar acted? Do people now really care of writers & poets like Vi Sa Khandekar and Kusumagraj? If they are not in awe of such personalities, then there will be no nostalgia. Someone like Pu La Deshpande may remain in the lime light for a generation or two more. Do we hear the names Ga Di Madgulkar and Shanta Shelke these days? Pu La, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohamad Rafi are still on pedestal but for how long will they remain there? The most popular actors of yester years were Clark Cable, Vivian Leigh? Heard these names anywhere lately?

Another thing that comes to mind is the strong drama movement in Newyork’s Broadway and in London. Similarly, strong activity happens in Prithvi theater in Mumbai and NSD in Delhi. This continues at one location in one city! But, does it mean that going to different towns to perform, may not happen in future? The costs have gone up because of travel, and now GST. With these limitations it can be difficult to revive old plays in future. What lies in future for attempts like Herbarium is difficult to judge but indications are that it is going to be a tough call! Maybe equivalent of Prithvi theater in Pune, is the way forward!

I will share one more nostalgic experience with you. Recently, I purchased a device called “Caravan Saregama”. It looks like a Radio of the olden days with knobs and all! It of course, has a remote too! This device has 5000 songs stored on it and these songs can be played by mood, singer, music director and has Amin Sayani’s Binaca Geet Mala songs stored with his commentry. Songs are between the period 1950 to 2000! The moment I saw the advertisement I bought Caravan; nostalgia, love for olden days, not too much efforts to search songs,  were the reasons I bought it. How long this device will sell?  I don’t know. Maybe they can increase its life span by having songs between 1970 to 2010 and so on.  Audience for 50’s & 60’s songs is going to dwindle fast! But will the young gang buy this device for themselves? What is Amin Sayani for them? What is “Hava mein Udata Jaye” for them? I am not sure! In fact, I am sure it does not mean anything to them!

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Experiments like Herbarium are fantastic things that happened to Marathi theater, but the quality of the play and actors was not the only reason people flocked to see the first edition! Herbarium was “Amin Sayani”  & “Hava mein Udata Jaye”  of theater for them, nostalgia! Is my generation, which around 70, craving for Sehgal’s “Jab Dil hi toot Gaya”? No, it is not! The natural process of fading with the time, goes on all the time! I am quite sure that Sunil will definitely find the right path for more such experiments!

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Since I am in filmy mood, let me end up with an appropriate Hindi song Ye Jeevan Hai! It says this is what life is all about! There is some happiness and there is some sorrow! Life goes on and on! 

 

Go with the nature!

Follow the nature to improve quality of life!

Days are longer in summer and shorter in winter. There are scientific reasons for that. Similarly, waxing and waning of the Moon follow the laws of nature. Except for humans, all the living things follow natures laws, religiously. Why humans behave differently? Simply because we are brainy! Are we?

Human kids and their pets like dogs follow the nature. Example is eating habits. A child simply refuses to eat more food than it needs. If their indulgent mothers try to force them to eat or drink something more, they will simply vomit. Have you seen a dog overeating? Have you ever seen an obese dog?

There is a lovely little Marathi song for kids “Chimnu tai chya pila”. In the song the kid is asking the baby sparrow,  “How do we find the roads in the sky? Are their white markings, Red, Yellow, Green signals up there?  Should a kid lose the way, are there any policemen who will help them find the way back home? Do policemen provide kids with biscuits till someone comes to pick them up?”

Wow! What a song? So much meaning to it! The kid asks the baby sparrow only with references known to him, the white lines/policeman/signals and so on! But I always have been fascinated by the bird species that traverse certain path daily, regularly and religiously! This they do it to gather food for themselves and their babies; they also collect building material for their nests, when required. How do they handle this? They must be having very advanced radar and eyesight! They must be having a perfect body clock which guides them to start their day at a certain time with respect to sunrise & sunset! Birds never go out for all night parties! Every day, from my seventh-floor window, I see flocks of birds flying away for their daily chores, around sunrise and return back around sunset! In winter, as the days become shorter the morning times are a few minutes later every day and evening time is a few minutes earlier every day! How do they handle this when the Sun is not visible?

What will happen if humans follow the routine of the birds? I am very much aware that we have different time tables and don’t go by nature’s clock. There are practical limitations. But we humans flog our “intelligence” so much that we don’t follow even twenty % of what nature suggests! Have we heard of any birds who have stored so much food that they don’t have to go out in monsoon? Within the limitation of our life style, we should try to follow as many nature’s laws as possible!

We hear many stories of sleep deficit, insomnia, sleep disorders! Some of the people, may have illnesses, which cause these issues; but again, our fancy life style of partying, drinks, late nights start these issues. Once these issues cross the limits, sleep related issues start. Studies about sleeping patterns of Polar Bears makes a fascinating study. Scientists tagged about 30 polar bears in Northern part of Canada. They wanted to see how Polar bears handle their hibernation. (Polar bear Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals capable of generating their own heat) As the known time for going into hibernation came closer, volunteers started tracking bears physically. All 30 bears were looking for their nook for hibernation. To surprise of all when the hibernation start timings for all 30 bears were compared, they all went into hibernation exactly at the same time. Nature? Humans can at least learn that you have your flings and swings but don’t overdo them, otherwise our body reacts in such a way that different issues can start affecting our quality of life.

Migration of Birds in winter is another discipline that humans cannot follow due to practical difficulties. Lately, humans have also started this activity; our retired brethren who have settled in cooler climes, come back home during winter for 2/3 months. The radar and GPS within the birds works perfectly and I fear that Googles of this world have developed GPS, studying the birds! But can we humans not accept the discipline part of the winter migration? When “dumb” birds can do it can we “smart” humans not achieve this discipline?

Emotion is a trait very distinctly displayed by humans. I am sure that other species also have emotions but I am not sure how much they use the emotions. Human baby goes out of the “nest” at age of 20/22! Whereas in other species this phenomenon occurs much earlier. If we do comparisons using life spans, human “baby” spends ¼ of the life in parent’s home. Whereas in other species it is much smaller. This may be one area where humans are better over other species! This I think is because humans have come out of “survival of the fittest” law!

What can we learn from other species and laws of nature? A lot! We are already doing it. In science, this usage is much higher than in our personal behaviour. The airplane landing follows same flight path like the bird landings. Boats take their design from fish! Car maneuvers are based on Chitah running! Of course, Chitah looks more elegant! We build great homes but we are not able to use the simple tools available to us, like the beak and two legs, used by birds to build their complex nests!

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Humans are way ahead other species because of their intelligence but could have a much quality of life if they try to go closer to nature, by following more and more things suggested by nature, in personal life; these are already adopted by birds and the beasts. Many of these adaptations, will reduce a lot of common setbacks in life like obesity, sleep issues, social issues. See the photo of pelicans below, where there is no fight between them when fish is fed to a group of pelicans. So, get to know your Bees and Birds better, and follow them in other personal areas of life too! ( For records, Pelican photos were taken by me during our Australian sojourn)

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Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana”..

This is my take on Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” which is combination of suppression of mind and psychological aberration

I attended one religious function recently at someone’s home. It was a Pooja, a prayer to invoke a Goddess with request to ensure that the family remains blessed. It was the last ritual in a series of functions in that family. This was a 50 minute ceremony. Suddenly 2/3rd of the way, a 45 year old lady attending the Pooja, from middle class background and  educated family, started behaving what can be called in Marathi as “Angat Yene”. She suddenly went into a trance and it appeared that she was possessed by the religious chanting that was being sung in rhythm, accompanied by instruments. I had never seen such paranormal behavior in close quarters and definitely not in a known person. She started swaying to the musical rhythm and later she started sweating. Other ladies present stood surrounding her so that others could not observe her fully. Later, when the music and singing stopped the lady slowly came back to normal. By normal, I mean that she came out of swaying and out of trance. She was sweating profusely and looked very tired.

I was quite uneasy in mind and started surfing the net to look for articles explaining such events; naturally there was not much scientific material and probably not much scientific research has been done on the subject. Research may be there but it is more about traditions or “Pratha” and not the science behind it. In one or two places I read something which indicated that people do not want to challenge the old traditions for the fear of backlash. One thing I realized that, this may have been “business” till last century and even today in the rural areas. It is assumed that during “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana” the Devi or Goddess’s spirit enters the body of that human being. It starts with assumption that the Goddess physically exists! I came across one thorough article by Dr. Prakash Pangu written about four years back. It is in Marathi so all may not be able to read it.

http://www.kattaonline.com/2013/07/how-spirit-possession-happens.html?m=1

After reading this article I started getting some insight. I have used some references from this article but most of the take on this subject is mine. First let us look at the facts. This phenomena occurs in ladies and never in Men. The ladies who are affected by this can be generalized in the age group of those who have active menstruating cycle. This never occurs in young girls or old ladies. It was claimed that these ladies sometimes chant hymns and talk in language other than their mother tongue, during this spell.  Some are supposed to climb coconut trees effortlessly. Dr Pangu says that he has never heard of ladies from Maharashtra speak Italian in this spell. Those who did not know swimming are not known to suddenly start swimming under the spell of the Goddess! Probably they speak a language which may be known to them but is not spoken by them regularly! Maybe some of the ladies were already conversant with the skill of climbing coconut trees.  I want to share one experience with you. My cousin had a nose surgery years back. While he was coming out of Anaesthesia, he started talking a bit irrelevantly. To our surprise he spoke in English all the time! He knows English quite well but prefers to talk with family and friends in Marathi. It appears that effect of Anaesthesia made him speak in English. Anaesthesia and “Angat yene” appear to have same effect on humans! 

All of us get very happy and excited when we see certain events like a concert, a cricket match, or a football match. Sometimes we get overly excited and exuberant. I am sure that there is a switch in our brains which operates when our exuberance level goes beyond a certain limit. It trips or works like a fuse, at the right moment and brings us back to reality. Similarly we react in certain ways in the event of sad things or when we are in grief! I am sure the switch is common for both happy and sad events and it all depends on how the brain gives signal to this switch. In a Hindi movie Munnabhai, the hero says that there is chemical “locha” taking place in his brain. Meaning of “locha” is turmoil! This turmoil causes the human beings to react in abnormal or Paranormal ways.

With this back ground I am trying understand what decides the intensity of the different behavior? Why the intensity goes above normal tripping point? One of the reasons could be that the ladies mentioned probably are suppressed in their day to day life. Though they are educated, they are forced to suppress their natural thought process and they live under some kind of pressure which does not allow them to express their thoughts openly. Combination of this suppression and the brain switch not tripping correctly, probably causes this problem of Para normal behavior.

Lack of knowledge and blind faith is a deadly combination. In olden days when the “Para Normal” behavior started, people must have been surprised initially with this event. But later on some smart people decided to take advantage of this scenario and got control over people! They started telling people that the Devi herself had entered the body of the lady! They glorified the event and started taking advantage of the situation. It was Win-Win situation where the ladies could come out of their suppression, cunning people around got control over surrounding people and created fear psychosis. Maybe the people started giving offerings or alms to the “Goddess” within the lady!

This phenomena was never analyzed scientifically but slowly this may change. Probably some German or American scholar, who has no Hindutva baggage to carry, will be able analyze the event correctly. Another explanation of this type of event is that like psychosomatic illnesses, where people actually get the symptoms, the paranormal behavior does make bodily changes like change in blood pressure or profuse sweating and so on. So what we see is actually happening but the reasons for this event are psychological. Post this event, the person is physically as well as emotionally drained. Hence the tendency of the general population is to believe what is happening is normal and true. It is true but not normal, it is para normal. There is weakness of mind within these ladies which affects them to such an extent that the “Angat Yene” process is kicked off!

Friends, I have tried to understand the so called religious tradition. My take is that the even today nobody is seriously trying to understand or analyze. Such so called traditions are not good for the society and need to be abolished. This is a very serious matter and suppressed women folk should be helped to overcome their inhibitions and their problems. Is it not some sort of exploitation that society doing? Your take please.