I was tapping away at my laptop, surrounded by other single-minded people focused on their work, when my phone rang. My girl pals, My sisterhood, Meri saheliyaan. They were having a girls night and I was missing in action so they called. At moments like this, those 12,631 kms simply dissolve; the world shrinks. I love New York and the ability to cherry pick from the plethora of experiences on offer. Pune cannot compare. But New York cannot give me the one thing that binds me to Pune. Ties of the heart.
Talking about ties, New York handed me an Off Broadway chance to see a phenomenal
production of Somerset Maugham’s book, Of Human Bondage, by the Toronto based Soulpepper Theatre Company. The Pershing Square Signature Centre was the venue to celebrate Soulpepper’s 20th anniversary and Canada’s 150th birthday. Not only is the Signature Centre known for hosting independent and smaller productions, at an affordable rate, but if you stick around post shows, you get a chance to interact with the cast and take pictures.
Maugham’s novel transcends time and is as current and relevant today as it was when it was written way back in 1915. It is basically how human emotions can lead you into and out of bondage. It is about believing in yourself, about life lessons, about destructive relationships, about following the conventional path, about love, hope, friendship, good Samaritans, users and abusers and about overcoming obstacles. The protagonist has club foot but it does not affect how he approaches life. A small stage, a handful of props, eleven actors and many musical instruments were used to enhance the production in a most effective manner. Music was used to convey sounds such as pigeons cooing, a river flowing, noisy street scenes, slashing of portraits and death by suicide. The same props were used to convey tea shops, medical labs, flats and lofts, a barn, the sea, a river and the English gardens. It did not follow the novel to the T but the essence was maintained and the audience was entertained.
It’s summertime and this city gives its inhabitants and visitors plenty of entertainment opportunities. I work right by Bryant Park and many an evening, I pop by the park to see what’s on offer. It could be a movie screening of Muppets or Wall street or song sequences from Beautiful, Spoon river or even Kinky Boots. Sometimes there are ballets and modern dance performances. There is even Shakespeare in the Park that I am still to catch. Hopefully I will rectify that with an upcoming showing of Twelfth Night. The best part: all the shows are free. There are plenty of stalls selling a variety of cuisine and beverages of your choice from soft drinks, to hot drinks and alcoholic ones too. It is one big summer extravaganza.
An extravaganza is the best word to describe the IIFA awards held at Metlife stadium recently. Wizcraft has taken Bollywood award shows global and each year a different international city is picked to host the event. This year the honour was bestowed on New York. No, I did not go even though I was offered the opportunity. But my nephew went and was amazed at how smoothly the event was run, how well done, great aesthetics, seamless entry and exit and he got a chance to hobnob with Katrina Kaif to boot! But there have been controversies starting from Dangal’s noticeable absence to the gibes against Kangana regarding nepotism and the bristling of Pahlaj Nihalani on being labelled Bollywood’s watchman. The three-day extravaganza had Indians in New York buzzing with many descending on the city for the show. Tickets were in demand especially for all the parties and hotels were fully booked. But non-desi New Yorkers were clueless. They stopped and marveled at IIFA stomp, held in Times Square as a prelude, because Bollywood knows just how to put on a good show. I plead guilty because even though I work minutes away, I try and avoid that tourist trap. Udta Punjab was the big winner this year with best actor, best actress and Neerja won best film.
A must see is The Big Sick; the true-life story of Pakistani comic Kumail Nanjiani and his American wife, Emily. It is about how cultural differences can break relationships but how humanity helps you rise above your differences. It is a slick production with a crisp script unlike the documentary/home movie feel of Meet the Patels, which also deals with a similar topic. When a stand-up comic pens the script, it is bound to be original. The star cast is also good with Anupam Kher, Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter. Zenobia Shroff from Mumbai has been cast as the mother and plays the conventional, emotionally blackmailing, Indian mother. If IMDB rates the movie at 8.1, there has to be something to this reel life movie.
In the meantime, real life occurrences Stateside is leaving the country tottering. What it will take to stop this mockery is anyone’s guess? I am no fan of Sessions, but in my dictionary, loyalty matters.
Also for all those transfolks in the army, I stand with you. And thanks to the last minute repeal, I still have health cover. Whew!!